Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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Recent Coronavirus Post #3 March 27, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 10:13 am

Dear Patients and Community: I have written up the notes from the March 24th video and you will find them here:

This is a summary and update of the video conference I gave on Tuesday, March 24th. First of all, thank you to all who participated, your feedback is valuable to guide further efforts. Plus, we miss seeing all of our friends and patients! I apologize for the technical failure at the end of the video conference, apparently that is not uncommon these days. I still don’t know whether it was a Zoom failure or an internet failure, probably an overload either way. We’ll try again soon. This is a summary of the remarks:

THE MAIN QUESTION: HOW DO WE STRENGTHEN OUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS?

At this time there are no vaccines or other pharmaceutical interventions that can prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Your best strategy is to strengthen your own immune system. If you strengthen your immune system, you may not get sick at all even if exposed or if you do get sick your discomfort may be very mild.

There are two interconnected aspects to strengthening your immune system, mental (includes emotional) and lifestyle.

MENTAL:
Since we are all still mostly OK physically (as of March 26, 2020), our fear is generated mostly by news reports. I did a post a few days ago on the preponderance of fear inducing words in the news reports. We should not ignore the news, but we need to balance the news with more positive thoughts.

Fear and panic suppress your immune system, while laughter and positive thoughts will strengthen it. Fear engages our “fight or flight” systems and during that time most of our energy goes to short term mental, to arms, and to legs: systems we would need for fight or flight. Since our energy is finite, energy goes away from our digestion, immune systems, and repair systems at that time. Likewise, feeling calm and happy engages our “repair and restore” systems and our bodies can heal or fight off diseases.

The yogic paradigm is to see the negative, see the positive, and then bring everything to neutral. The negative mind sees what can go wrong in any situation. This is very valuable; people who have weak negative minds do not see what can go wrong and often end up dead, severely injured or in bankruptcy. The positive mind sees what can go right in a situation and gives us our impetus to take action for our benefit. The neutral mind sees what can go right, what can go wrong and proceeds with an awareness of both. When we are in our neutral mind, our immune system is at its strongest.

What is happening is serious and we should be aware of it. Here is a recent news report on the track of the virus:

https://www.nytimes.com/…/coronavirus-deaths-by-country.html

First the negative: New virus, spreading rapidly, we do not have normal immunity. Our present track as I write this is accelerating and doubling every three days or less. You can get plenty of the negative on the news… let’s put things in some perspective: Assume we maintain social distancing and are following the track of Italy (so far, we are growing faster than Italy in some of our states -New York in particular, so we may end up doing much worse). Sicknesses and deaths increase exponentially until about 3 weeks after strong control measures are instituted and then begin to level off. Anyway, Italy’s deaths will probably peak in early April and be declining or minimal by early May…we are about two weeks behind them so we should start leveling off by mid or late May (assuming we strengthen and do not relax social distancing). On this best track our expected number of deaths will be around 200,000 (less than 1 person per thousand). Without strong social distancing, our deaths could exceed 2,000,000 or even be much higher. Of course, these are just predictions based on past data but even the worst predictions call for less than three deaths per hundred people.

So, the positive is not that many deaths (you have a high chance of survival) and the situation won’t last forever. (Eventually there will be good treatment methods and a vaccine for prevention). In the meantime, many of you have much more free time and a much easier commute. As for the money, if you are healthy you can always make more money.

The neutral mind sees both of these at once and acts from a place of calm judgment. Be aware of the negative, enjoy the good fortune you still have, do what you can do, change what you can change, and be at peace.

LIFESTYLE—HOW TO STAY CALM?

THESE ARE SOME PRACTICES THAT OFTEN HELP: DRINK WATER. DO LONG DEEP BREATHING. GO FOR WALKS OUT IN NATURE (WHILE KEEPING YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCE). SUNSHINE IN GENERAL. YOGA AND MEDITATION. BE CREATIVE. LISTEN TO CALMING MUSIC. LATER, IN A FUTURE CONFERENCE, WE WILL TALK ABOUT EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE.

IN OTHER WORDS, WATCH LESS NEWS, AND DO MORE OTHER THINGS!!! (30 to 90 minutes of news per day should be more than enough to give you useful information, beyond that just over-energizes your fears and negative mind.)

THE OTHER PART OF STRENGTHENING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS DIET MODIFICATIONS. I DID A POST LAST WEEK AND HERE IS AN EXCERPT:

From my March 14th post: “The best protection we have is strengthening our immune systems. COVID-19 is caused by a virus that seems to thrive with “damp” internal conditions. Damp is a term in Chinese Medicine that refers to excess fluids of various thicknesses. Diet therapy can help a lot with the internal dampness.”

“First of all, avoid damp producing foods such as milk products, sugar, sweets (except fruit), and most grains, especially wheat. Rice seems to be OK.”

“On the plus side, you should eat much more garlic, onion, and ginger (either raw or cooked—raw is stronger but may be harder for you to digest). Aromatic herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom are good for dispersing dampness so herbal teas are also great as long as not too much milk.”

There were a few follow-up questions at the end that we did not get to:

1. Recipes for onion, garlic, and ginger: There are abundant onion/garlic/ginger recipes on the internet. Also I will send you some recipes from the ayurvedic traditions.

2. Calmness techniques: We will review Long Deep Breathing and other techniques next time.

3. What to do if you do get the COVID-19 virus: Western medical treatments are the best for acute conditions. Follow the directions of your Medical Doctor. Once you are past any crisis, more natural techniques can help restore your balance.

4. Please feel free to email DSK@KhalsaMedicine.com with any additional questions or comments.

I hope you found this helpful. Be Well!

Darshan Khalsa, L.Ac. ,Dipl. O.M.
Khalsa Integrative Medicine, LLC
11731 Bowman Green Drive
Reston, VA 20190

 

Recent Coronavirus Post #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 9:58 am

From March 22, 2020:

I circled a few key words from this mornings headlines. The media is valuable, but unbalanced in its emphasis on fear and anxiety. Best to see the negative, see the positive, and bring it to neutral within yourself. Long deep breathing will calm fears. We need to be aware of what can go wrong, but not to the exclusion of what can go right.

 

No photo description available.

 

Recent Coronavirus Posts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 9:47 am

I am mostly posting on Facebook now, but this will be a series of recent posts for those not on Facebook.

Khalsa Integrative Medicine LLC
March 14 at 11:41 AM ·
Dear Patient Community—

I’ve been doing some research into COVID-19 and I want to share some recommendations with you. This is in addition to all the advice you are getting from CDC and the Health Departments on washing your hands, social distancing, etc… and is not to be taken as specific medical advice.

The best protection we have is strenghthening our immune systems. COVID-19 is caused by a virus that seems to thrive with “damp” internal conditions. Damp is a term in Chinese Medicine that refers to excess fluids of various thicknesses. Diet therapy can help a lot with the internal dampness.

First of all avoid damp producing foods such as milk products, sugar, sweets (except fruit), and most grains, especially wheat. Rice seems to be OK.

On the plus side, you should eat much more garlic, onion, and ginger (either raw or cooked—raw is stronger but may be harder for you to digest). Aromatic herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamon are good for dispersing dampness so herbal teas are also great as long as not too much milk.

More to follow as it becomes available.
Darshan Khalsa
Khalsa Integrative Medicine, LLC
703-326-0817


General Herbal Advice from 3HO Foundation:
Onions, garlic, and ginger are known as the Trinity Roots. They are essential for cleansing, sustaining, and producing energy in the body. The beneficial effect of each of them separately is amplified when they are cooked together.
Onion
Universal healing food.
Purifies and builds new blood.
Recommended for colds, fever, laryngitis, and diarrhea.
Increases mental clarity.
Eat raw (preferred), juiced, or cooked.
Garlic
Fights viruses and bacteria.
Increases sexual energy that, with the practice of Kundalini Yoga, can be channeled upward for greater spiritual awareness.
Eat raw, baked, steamed, or in capsule form.
Ginger Root
Soothes and strengthens nerves by nourishing spinal fluid.
Increases energy and vitality.
Useful for menstruating women.
Drink as a tea or juice or use it as a spice in main dishes.
Turmeric
Good for the skin and mucous membranes.
Good for female reproductive organs.
Increases bone and joint flexibility, anti-inflammatory.
Sauté for curries, casseroles, soups, gravies, and sauces.
Tumeric needs to be cooked before eating; you can cook it with a little water to make a paste that will keep in the fridge.


Yogi Tea
Black pepper purifies the blood.
Cinnamon strengthens the bones.
Cardamom supports the colon.
Cloves build the nervous system.
Ginger, with all its benefits, is an optional addition.
Black tea (tiny amount) holds it all together.
Milk protects the colon.

[Nothing in this text should be construed as medical advice. Always check with your personal physician or licensed health care practitioner before making any significant modification in your diet, and before using any of these recipes, to insure that the recipes and ingredients are appropriate for your personal health condition and consistent with any medication you may be taking.]

 

THE FOUR LEVELS OF HEALING April 8, 2019

Filed under: energy psychology,Uncategorized,wellness — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 12:30 pm

As I’ve treated patients over the years, I have come to realize that most people have problems that occur on multiple energetic levels, ranging from primarily Physical all the way to primarily Spiritual. These levels are often abbreviated as the PEMS levels or Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual.

It may be that all problems ultimately stem from the Spiritual level and work from there to the Mental, then the Emotional, and finally to the Physical in that order. I find it most clinically useful to just work with whatever imbalances present themselves with each individual patient and not try to work in any specific order. Most problems have components on all of these levels, and helping on any one level helps all the other levels. We do know that for deep healing to take place, we need to address all of the levels.

In Chinese Medicine, physical pain is viewed as being caused by a blockage in the flow of energy. Likewise, emotional pain is caused when the emotions are not able to flow but instead become stuck. We call this condition unresolved emotions and most patients need work in this area. On the Mental level, limiting beliefs seem to be the sources of imbalances. On the Spiritual level, excessive blame and judgment lead to feelings of pain, loneliness and separation. Again, these Mental and Spiritual problems are forms of energy blockages.

Fortunately, we have many ways to help patients deal with each level of blockage. I intend to share some of these in future posts.

 

Our blog is back to life!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 11:53 am

Restarting my blog!

It’s been 7 years since my last post, but in the interim I have learned a lot. Looks like I’ll have to figure out how to clean up the blog, plus see if I can get the obnoxious advertisements to stop appearing…my apologies in the interim, but I suppose these ads are no worse than the ads we see on Facebook and on so many websites.

The posts about updating our Long Deep Breathing App are no longer relevant—we did some updates and then discontinued the App a few years ago as the pace of device and operating system changes increased. The app served its purpose, more than 10,000 downloads, and I still teach Long Deep Breathing to almost all of my patients.

Most of the other old posts are still very accurate and relevant!

This was a housekeeping post; my next post will be about the four levels of healing.

Darshan Khalsa

 

Will nutritional supplements improve our health? January 20, 2012

Filed under: enzyme therapy,stress,wellness — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 4:23 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Do we benefit from taking nutritional supplements?   Do we need nutritional supplements?  Why can’t we get the nutritional support that we need from just our food?  These are some  of the most common questions we get asked.

After all, people have historically gotten all their nutrition from their foods, and in many environments and eras people were able to lead long and healthy lives.  What is different about now?

Part of the  answer is that today’s food is not the same food that our great grandparents ate.  Today’s food is generally grown on deficient, chemicalized soils, so there is less nutritional content to start with.  To make things worse, the food is often stored for long periods before we are able to eat it, losing nutritional value each hour.  Finally the food is often heavily processed and this causes additional nutritional losses.  One more obstacle:  our factory farmed food is bred and grown for ease of bringing to market and ease of storage rather than for nutritional content.  Much of the food we eat today is genetically modified or excessively hybridized, and so it may have far less nutritional content than the food our great grandparents ate.

The other side of the equation is that we generally live in a much more toxic environment than our great grandparents.  We may need additional nutritional support to help us process these toxins.  The toxins are found in the foods we eat in the form of herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides.  In addition to these toxins in our foods, other toxins such as heavy metals or industrial chemicals are  found in our air, water, and building products.  Finally, some of the chronic stresses of modern life may produce additional toxic burdens in our bodies.

So even though in most ways are lives are much superior to our great grandparents, in the question of food and nutrition we are not necessarily better off, even though we can get relatively fresh foods from all over the world simply be going to our local grocery store.  The food looks good, but the nutrition we need may not be there.

In practice, most of our patients benefit greatly from some moderate nutritional supplementation of their diet.  As with most therapies, we are looking for the balance point of not too little and not too much.  Too much supplementation can lead to imbalances also!   We often have patients who come in with grocery bags full of supplements and they often benefit when we help them identify what they really need–more is not necessarily better!

In general, supplements that are too refined and concentrated often don’t test well.   Plant based enzymes and herbs often do test well.  Vitamin and mineral supplements may or may not test well.  More on the topics of nutrition and nutritional testing in future blogs….

And remember, supplements can not take the place of a good diet!

 

WHAT DOES STRESS DO TO US AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT STRESS? October 7, 2011

In our wellness practice we find long term chronic stress to be a major contributing factor to many health problems.  We find that up to 80% of the symptoms that patients initially present with are improved when stress is dealt with first.  We also find that the patient’s remaining symptoms become much easier to alleviate:  we see better digestion, less pain, less fatigue, better sleep, improved fertility, improved moods, and reductions to allergies when we deal with stress first.

How does stress affect us?

Stress initiates the “fight or flight” syndrome—our body energy goes to where it is needed for “fight or flight”: energy goes to the arms, legs, and short term mental functions.  Consequently our energy goes away from digestion, immune system and all of the body’s other “repair and restore” functions.  This has great survival value for short term “ fight or flight” type stresses; however, long term chronic stress is what most of our patients experience—rather than a short term “escape predator” situation, we experience days of unrelenting deadlines or other forms of work, relationship, or financial stresses.  In addition to impairing digestion, long term chronic stress has also been shown to raise blood pressure, stiffen arteries, suppress the immune system, and heighten the risk for conditions as diverse as diabetes and depression.  Worst of all, any of these health conditions can exacerbate our feeling of stress and set up a real downward spiral/negative feedback loop!

When stress is reduced, immune system function and digestion are automatically improved.  Good digestion in turn gives us the energy to heal. Also, we feel less stressed when we have more energy. This is why reducing stress results in improvements to so many other symptoms.

What are some specific symptoms that can accompany long term chronic stress?

  • Cognitive: memory problems, inability to concentrate, seeing only the negative, anxiety
  • Emotional: irritability, rapid mood swings, agitation, feeling overwhelmed, unhappiness or depression
  • Physical: aches and pains, digestive disturbances, rapid heartbeat, loss of libido, frequent illnesses, auto-immune disorders, high blood pressure
  • Behavioral: disturbed sleep, over or under eating, procrastination or neglecting responsibilities, substance abuse

 

What can be done about stress?

For our bodies to be in optimal health, there must be a balance between stress and relaxation.  We must manage our stress to keep ourselves in balance.  Stress management involves changing the stressful situations when possible, changing our reaction to the stressful situations when the situations can’t be changed, taking care of our health, and making time for rest and relaxation.

Common and effective stress reduction techniques include acupuncture, massage, moderate exercise, meditation, pleasant social interactions, and laughter.

One of the simplest and most profound ways to reduce stress and improve your health is with the practice of Long Deep Breathing.  I teach almost every patient this very simple technique and those who practice it benefit tremendously.   Long Deep Breathing is a wonderful relaxation technique and counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

Long Deep Breathing is the simplest of all yogic breaths.  Simply inhale and exhale through the nose.  Fill the bottom of the lungs first, then the middle, then the top.  Hold the breath in for a second or two and then exhale:  top first, then middle, and then bottom.  You can do this breath while sitting on the floor, while sitting in a chair, or while lying down.  It is excellent to do before bed to help with sleep difficulties.

When we are stressed our breathing becomes short and shallow.  Likewise, when we are relaxed our breathing is naturally deeper and slower.  By cultivating the practice of Long Deep Breathing, we can induce a more relaxed state in our bodies.  It is when we are in this relaxed state that healing and rejuvenation of the body can take place.

Long Deep Breathing is easy to learn and easy to practice. Benefits come with very small amounts of practice.  Five minutes at a time is usually ample.  Five minutes, three times per day will have wonderful clinical effects.  In addition to a feeling of relaxation, there will be other effects such as lowered blood pressure, better ability to clear body toxins, and increase in energy levels.

Many of our patients have been able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medications simply from this practice of Long Deep Breathing.  If Long Deep Breathing could be packaged in pill form and patented by a pharmaceutical company, you would see it heavily advertised on TV!

There are of course many other stress reduction techniques as mentioned above, but none are as easy to do on your own or as always available as Long Deep Breathing.

I hope that these simple suggestions can help you reduce your stress.  Your personal situation or health condition may be very complicated, but by starting with stress reduction great improvements can be made to your health, happiness, and longevity.

 

A poison ivy story October 2, 2011

Filed under: allergies,energy psychology — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 4:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last summer a patient came in to get treated for her severe poison ivy allergy.  She lived out in the country and often got extreme and lingering poison ivy reactions even from indirect exposures such as handling her children’s clothing.

She lived a few hours away and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see her often enough to take her through our normal allergy elimination process.  I gave her one bioenergetic treatment for the poison ivy, and then taught her how to do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).  EFT is an easily learned method of tapping the acupuncture points and it often works on physical as well as emotional symptoms.

She recently sent an e-mail, so I’ll let her speak for herself:

“I came to see you July 2010 asking to try treatment for responding to poison ivy.

I keep meaning to let you know that I did do the EFT for 2 weeks after the treatment and then went and brushed poison ivy on my arm. I covered
it for a day and watched it. I never got any reaction. Since then I have watched my kids go through poison ivy many times, knowing that I
would have to handle their clothes, take off their shoes…..etc. I myself have brushed up against it on trails with no reaction. I am
very glad about this outcome.”

We see allergy outcomes like this frequently; however it usually takes longer!

EFT is a branch of what is called Energy Psychology; psychologists discovered that they could clear a lot of emotional issues by simply tapping on acupuncture points while focusing on the problem.  Later the methods were applied to physical symptoms as well, often with equally good results.  EFT is similar in concept to much of the bioenergetic clearing work we do right in the office as part of our WholeHealth Wellness protocols:  Identify the imbalances, then use various energetic clearing methods to neutralize the problem.  We often teach the EFT techniques to patients as part of our normal course of treatment.

The highest form of medicine is teaching patients to take care of themselves!

 

WholeHealth Wellness: the idea of balance June 24, 2011

When we talk about becoming healthier with WholeHealth Wellness, we talk a lot about balance.

Balance is a somewhat nebulous term and is often called harmony.  Our premise is that all human body processes are interrelated and they are in continual interaction with each other and with the environment.  A state of balance or harmony with these interrelationships is what we call health.  Disease is simply a pattern of disharmonies.

Symptoms and physical signs help the practitioner access what is out of balance and by helping to correct  the imbalances assist the patient to heal.  Imbalances can occur in many different forms, since we as humans are very complex and imbalances tend to be multi-factorial.

Any model or theory of health or disease is just a model and not what is actually there.  It is a simplification so we can analyze and act. The old saying is that “the map is not the territory”. Still, maps are very useful symbolic representations and can help us find our way from here to there.

Chinese medicine has various models for how we look at the world and what can be out of balance.  “Yin and Yang” is one of the most useful models.   Yin and Yang originally denoted opposite sides of a mountain.  In the morning, one side was in shade, the other in sunlight.  Later in the day, the sides reversed.  Yin and yang describe the continuous force of change and the intertwined nature of things; they symbolize balance and harmony in our perpetual interplay with our internal environments and our exterior environments.  Yin and Yang relationships are more than just opposites:  they support and require each other.  The traditional, circular yin and yang symbol shows the interrelated nature of yin and yang, where each flows into the next and each has a component of the other within.

Examples of yin and yang pervade the universe and illustrate that one cannot exist without the other.  Male and female, hot and cold, up and down, activity and rest, day and night, inside and outside, front and back….there is no end to the examples.  One can think of the action of a wave at the ocean with its ebb and flow.  More technically, think of the sine wave, where positive and negative polarities oscillate in rhythmic frequencies.

Some yin and yang examples:

Yin                                            Yang

Cold                                           Hot

Rest                                         Activity

Lower body                           Upper body

Inner body                             Outer body

Chronic diseases                  Acute diseases

Deficiency conditions         Excess conditions

When yin or yang dominates, disharmony and disease result.  Paying attention to yin and yang helps to assess balance and harmony, and also gives the practitioner insight into how to assist in restoring harmony.

We can go back to the Buddhist idea that attachment leads to suffering.  When this natural flow of yin to yang and back is blocked in some way (attachment), disharmony results and suffering or disease occurs.

The acupuncture meridian system is another very useful model of looking for patterns of disharmony.  Qi is the basic life energy or life force referred to in many traditions.  It can be considered the sum of all your body’s electrical, chemical, magnetic, and subtle energies.  Your body is nourished by, cleansed by, and dependent upon the flow of Qi.  Normal flows of Qi (and its yin counterpart blood) are the basis of good health.

The acupuncture meridian system consists of fourteen major channels and numerous minor channels.  These are interconnected and flow is normally continuous from one meridian to the next.  When the flow is blocked for some reason is when problems occur.  The meridian system provides a means for the body to balance itself between inner and outer, left and right, and up and down.  Acupuncture points are like switches and can be used to regulate the flow of energy along the channels and to their associated organs.

A very useful model that I use often is called “Eight Principals” in Chinese Medicine.  The eight principals are four yin-yang pairs of conditions:  excess/deficient, inside/outside, hot/cold, and damp/dry.  Chinese medicine uses these eight principles to access the location and nature of an illness.  Once this is known, the treatment often becomes obvious:  if the condition is too hot, cool it down; if the condition is too damp, dry it out.

Excess/deficient:  these terms describe too much or too little of some component of nature, disease or the patient.  Sudden illness comes from excess, chronic illness suggests deficiency.  Symptoms of excess are usually stronger than those caused by deficiency.  A severe sore throat suggests excess (viral and yang) while a persistently scratchy throat implies heat caused by a deficiency of coolness or moisture (yin).

Inside/Outside:  Does the disharmony originate from outside (yang) or inside (yin)?  Is it some exterior pathogenic factor such as airborne viruses, or a bacterial infection?  Exterior factors can penetrate the body and become interior diseases if our defenses are not strong or if we have created an interior environment open to the pathogenic factor.  However, some diseases are primarily interior creations and result from deficiency, emotions, or other forms of stagnation within the body.

Hot/Cold:  Hot and cold pairings refer to more than just relative temperatures.  A heat symptom could be something like hyperactivity or inability to rest and may not be reflected in body temperature.  Heat suggests an oversupply of Qi or an inadequacy of the body’s cooling system.  Cold suggests the opposite:  under-stimulation, poor flow, Qi deficiency or weak metabolic function.  Of course we can usually find examples of both present in the same person:  some aspects or regions will be too hot and some too cold.

Damp/Dry:  All life is dependent on moisture but too much is also not optimal.  Excessive dampness inside the body gives pathogenic factors such as bacteria or fungi an opportunity to multiply.  We see this excess moisture in the form of swollen tissue, water retention such as edema, or excess phlegm.  Dryness is the opposite and demonstrates a scarcity of fluids.  In dryness, there is not enough moisture to harmoniously sustain life; dryness can be both the cause and result of blood or yin deficiency.  So when conditions are too dry, we try to help them become more damp; if too damp, we try to make them more dry.

Whatever the pattern of disharmony, our role as a practitioner is to help bring the body/mind back to harmony.

There are many other models within Chinese medicine: the five elements is a major one that I don’t often utilize.  The twelve organs is a model that I do often use.

The point is that most models or maps have their uses. If the maps are accurate and are applied correctly, the patients find their way to better health.  Ultimately that is how we judge the usefulness of any theory:  does it help produce the results we want?

 

Stress and digestion: how they interact and simple ways to make improvements

In our practice we find long term chronic stress and poor digestion to be the two health conditions at the root of most other problems.  Furthermore, long term chronic stress and poor digestion interact to make each other much worse.

We find that up to 80% of the symptoms that people initially present with are improved when stress and digestion are dealt with first.  We also find that the patient’s remaining symptoms become much easier to alleviate:  we see less pain, less fatigue, better sleep, improved fertility, moods improved, and reductions to allergies when we deal with stress and digestion first.

How does stress impair digestion?

Stress initiates the “fight or flight” syndrome—our body energy goes to where it is needed for “fight or flight”: energy goes to the arms, legs, and short term mental functions.  Consequently our energy goes away from digestion, immune system and all of the body’s other “repair and restore” functions.  This has great survival value for short term “ fight or flight” type stresses; however, long term chronic stress is what most of our patients experience—rather than a short term “escape predator” situation, we experience days of unrelenting deadlines or other forms of work, relationship, or financial stresses.  In addition to impairing digestion, long term chronic stress has also been shown to raise blood pressure, stiffen arteries, suppress the immune system, and heighten the risk for conditions as diverse as diabetes and depression.

When stress is reduced, immune system function and digestion are automatically improved.  Good digestion in turn gives us the energy to heal. Also, we feel less stressed when we have more energy. This is why simultaneously reducing stress and improving digestion results in improvements to so many other symptoms.

What can be done about stress?

One of the simplest and most profound ways to reduce stress and improve your health is with the practice of Long Deep Breathing.  I teach almost every patient this very simple technique and those who practice it benefit tremendously.   Long Deep Breathing is a wonderful relaxation technique and counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

Long Deep Breathing is the simplest of all yogic breaths.  Simply inhale and exhale through the nose.  Fill the bottom of the lungs first, then the middle, then the top.  Hold the breath in for a second or two and then exhale:  top first, then middle, and then bottom.  You can do this breath while sitting on the floor, while sitting in a chair, or while lying down.  It is excellent to do before bed to help with sleep difficulties.

When we are stressed our breathing becomes short and shallow.  Likewise, when we are relaxed our breathing is naturally deeper and slower.  By cultivating the practice of Long Deep Breathing, we can induce a more relaxed state in our bodies.  It is when we are in this relaxed state that healing and rejuvenation of the body can take place.

Long Deep Breathing is easy to learn and easy to practice. Benefits come with very small amounts of practice.  Five minutes at a time is usually ample.  Five minutes, three times per day will have wonderful clinical effects.  In addition to a feeling of relaxation, there will be other effects such as lowered blood pressure, better ability to clear body toxins, and increase in energy levels.

Many of our patients have been able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medications simply from this practice of Long Deep Breathing.  If Long Deep Breathing could be packaged in pill form and patented by a pharmaceutical company, you would see it heavily advertised on TV!

There are of course many other stress reduction techniques, many of which we utilize in our practice, but none are as easy to do on your own as Long Deep Breathing.

What can be done to improve digestion?

Reducing stress is one key; eating in a pleasant environment in an unhurried way is another.  Beyond that, digestion can be improved by avoiding highly processed foods and by avoiding foods grown on soils with heavy fertilizer and pesticides use.  These food production practices result in nutritionally deficient foods.  Our bodies have to work harder to draw nutrition from these foods.

In our practice we also frequently recommend supplementing with digestive enzymes:  Digestive enzymes are what our bodies use to break down the foods we eat.  As we get older our bodies produce fewer enzymes; supplementing can result in great improvements to digestion.  In clinical practice, there are many additional steps that can be taken.

I hope that these simple suggestions can help you reduce your stress and improve your digestion.  Your personal health condition may be very complicated, but by starting with the basics great improvements can be made to your health, happiness, and longevity.