Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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Updated IPhone App version coming soon February 26, 2010

Filed under: stress,Uncategorized,yogic breathing techniques — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 7:11 pm
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An updated version of our Long Deep Breathing Application will be available soon…

In response to your requests, we will be including a way to do more advanced breathing exercises (called pranayams in the yogic tradition) by individually adjusting the inhale, hold-in, exhale, and hold-out times.  I’ll let you know when it is ready.

There are many wonderful ways to do breathing exercises and each has slightly different effects.  The simple and basic Long Deep Breathing exercise remains the best for beginners and those who want to reduce their stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve their overall health.

Here are some instructions on how to do Long Deep Breathing:

Sit with your spine straight or lay on the floor with your spine straight. All inhaling and exhaling is through the nose.
Exhale all the air out of your lungs through your nose by contracting your navel point back toward the spine. Now inhale deep, pushing the navel point out and expanding the lower one-third of your lungs. Then consciously expand the middle portion of your lungs by expanding your chest. Finally expand the upper third of your lungs. Your collarbone will lift slightly and your shoulders may go back slightly. Once you have reached the full inhale, hold for a second or so, and then reverse the process. Exhale first the top, then the middle, finally the bottom. At the end of the exhale, immediately begin the next inhale.
This process will feel very natural after a little practice.
If the breath feels jerky, you are probably trying too hard. Just relax and continue practicing. Here is a simple fix: put a finger about four inches in front of your torso. As you breathe, move your finger smoothly up and down, from the level of your navel to your chin. Let this be a guide, raising the finger as you inhale and lowering as you exhale. You will soon be breathing smoothly. Think of a big pitcher slowly filling with water, starting at the bottom and slowly filling to the top, with the opposite on the exhale.

 

Today’s front page in the Washington Business Journal is about the new Long Deep Breathing iPhone App December 4, 2009

Today’s Washington Business Journal put us on the front page!  Here’s the link:
 
 

Holistic medicine practice puts deep-breathing app on iPhone to draw in new customers and revenue

Washington Business Journal – by Melissa Castro Staff Reporter

Joanne S. Lawton
Dr. Darshan Khalsa has launched a “Long Deep Breathing” mobile application to spread holistic medicine techniques.

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A Reston-based alternative medicine practice is launching ancient spiritual concepts into the frenetic world of iPhone apps, in yet another sign of technology’s steady march into pretty much every fiber of our existence.

Dr. Darshan Khalsa and his wife, Carol O’Donnell Khalsa, went live this month with their first app, “Long Deep Breathing.” It’s a stress relief technique that is part of the Kundalini yoga that Darshan Khalsa has practiced since the early 1970s.

The Khalsas’ collaborative project hints at the limitless opportunity behind smart phones and the app craze, a no-barriers-to-entry industry that has made millionaires out of entrepreneurs peddling everything from flatulent noisemakers to imaginary farms that sell imaginary seeds for genuine money.

If expelling air can make big bucks, there has to be a market for inhaling.

“Apps,” or applications, are tiny software programs that give smart phones the power to find a restaurant, hail a cab and identify the song playing on the cab’s radio.

Khalsa, a quiet Sikh convert whose gentle hazel eyes and impossible stillness of being inspire healing in his 1,500 or so patients at Khalsa Integrative Medicine, is an unlikely prophet for technology and social media. He rises at 4 a.m. to do yoga and pray for world peace, then tends to 10 or 12 patients a day.

If Khalsa were left to his own devices, “I’d have just four or five patients — she’s the one who brings in the patients,” he said in his Reston office, surrounded by Chinese herbs, maps of the body’s energy meridians and dozens of certificates affirming his training in alternative and Oriental medicine.

O’Donnell Khalsa handles the marketing for her husband’s practice with a muscular New York brassiness that grabs you by the collar and demands your attention. She has her own long history with alternative medicine, but that’s not the contribution she makes to their relationship. “My background is health care marketing, yours is healing the world and together we co-create that,” O’Donnell Khalsa said to her husband.

Thanks in part to his wife’s tenacity, Khalsa could soon have millions of patients from around the globe, although none will pay more than a dollar for his advice.

In just five days — despite snafus in the initial launch — the breathing app had already been downloaded 46 times. Without a single act of marketing by either Khalsa, iPhone users from as far away as Australia have downloaded the breathing app.

Even the app’s developer, George Churchwell, the president of Herndon-based Tech 2000 Inc., was surprised by its early success. “If they had asked me my opinion, I would have said, ‘Eh, I don’t know. Do people really need to learn how to breathe?’” Churchwell said. “But Darshan hit on something that resonates with many people.”

While Long Deep Breathing is no iFart Mobile — which has been downloaded half a million times since December 2008 and has frequently pulled in as much as $10,000 a day — it’s a reminder of the app craze’s unlimited opportunity for entrepreneurs.

“This is the third wave,” said Churchwell, who launched Tech 2000 as a software and computer training company in 1984. (The company started writing apps in January.)

Before Google’s search engines, Churchwell says, most companies were invisible on the Internet. After Google took over the Web and began charging for prominent placement in its search results, “the big guys crawled to the top and owned the Internet again,” Churchwell said.

But Apple Inc.’s App Store has leveled the playing field once more, creating a space where placement is based on the number of downloads and the level of positive feedback an app has received.

If you’re creative and already tech-savvy, it could cost you as little as $99 to write your own app and put it in the App Store. Last summer, Churchwell’s Tech 2000 trained high school students at Woodson High in Northeast Washington to create a basic

iPhone home page for their schools.

Not only does Churchwell believe anyone can write an app, he’s also developed a business model to prove his own theory true. By creating engines that can easily program apps for any sort of educational content, Churchwell is now willing to develop any well-conceived app for anyone, free of startup costs. Instead, Tech 2000 takes a 50 percent cut of all sales revenue left over after Apple takes its own 30 percent slice of total revenue.

“We’re like mini-venture capitalists,” Churchwell said.

The Khalsas’ breathing app didn’t fit into the existing templates offered by Tech 2000, so it was built from scratch and paid for on a flat-fee basis. (The Khalsas declined to say how much the app cost to develop.)

The Khalsas are already working on developing their next two holistic health apps, including a wellness assessment that will be a free download.

At its current sales clip, the Churchwells expect that Long Deep Breathing will pay for itself within six months. But that’s hardly the point.

It’s more about seva — the Sanskrit word for selfless service. “The cost is irrelevant — it’s about putting our energy into something,” O’Donnell Khalsa said. “The goal of our relationship is to transform the health of as many people as we can.”

 

 

 

Our new Long Deep Breathing iPhone App is ready! November 22, 2009

Our new Long Deep Breathing iPhone application is now available on the iTunes App store! 

This link will take you to the iTunes store where the App is described and can be purchased:

 http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/long-deep-breathing/id337291691?mt=8

Of course you can experience the benefits of Long Deep Breathing without an iPhone or an iPhone App.  Many of you who are patients have already learned the technique and understand some of the benefits of Long Deep Breathing.  

Creating the App is a way to reach out to people far beyond our patient base.   We’re hoping that many people all over the world who  are experiencing stress can learn this simple Long Deep Breathing technique and derive many benefits from it.  Perhaps those who already know the Long Deep Breathing technique will be reminded to practice it more often.  The App does seem to make Long Deep Breathing  more fun, particularly as you work to slow down your breathing….it becomes quite easy to track and challenge yourself. 

We’ve already had sales in 14 countries!  For some reason, it seems to be selling well in Australia. In addition to the iPhone, the App will work on an iPod Touch.

Remember, our clinical experience is that people who practice Long Deep Breathing for 5 minutes, three times daily, will experience major health improvements!

 

Preventive measures for H1N1 Swine Flu August 25, 2009

Yesterday the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued their estimate of the possible impact of H1N1 swine flu on the American population:  Up to half the population infected and up to 1.8 million hospitalizations required!  This is much more than a normal flu season—we’ll find out in the next few months how accurate their estimate is.  This H1N1 flu variety is relatively new and people have built up less immunity.  Unlike most influenzas, predictions are that older people will have more immunity and that this flu will disproportionately infect younger school age people. 

Here’s a link to the Center For Disease Control’s H1N1 Swine Flu site with lots of good information:  http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1Flu/

I’m certain the mainstream media will be sufficiently alarmist so the real issue becomes what should we do to prepare for the impending flu season.  Disease is always an interaction between the strength of the pathogen and the strength of our immune system.   How can we strengthen our immune systems to better resist these new pathogens?

The vaccine which may help prevent infections won’t be ready until the flu season is well underway.  Vaccines have their own problems as well, and I’ll discuss these in a future blog post.

 The basic recommendations for strengthening the immune system are still primary:     stress reduction,   regular acupuncture,    good diet along with steps to improve digestion,   good hygiene (frequent hand washing, etc…)

I also teach patients various acupressure techniques that are effective for immune building and disease prevention.  In addition, I’ve been dispensing two different supplements to patients to help build their immunity and one supplement to keep in reserve at home in case a cold or flu starts.  We dispense only to current patients since no formula is indicated for everyone.

Two supplements that we often give to patients to boost the immune system:

The first supplement is a Chinese Herbal Formula called Yu Ping Feng Wan, “Jade Wind-Screen Pills”.  This is a very old formula in continuous use at least for the last 700 years in China.  It contains Huang Qi (Astragalus), Fang Feng (Siler), and Bai Zhu (Atractylodes).  The action of this formula is to build up your immunity, hence the name:  create a precious (Jade) Screen around your body to shield you from pathogenic influences (Wind).  Yu Ping Feng San is a good formula for almost everyone to take as we enter cold and flu season. 

We also sometimes give patients another good modern formula that combines enzymes, Chinese Herbs and Western Herbs called ProSol™ Immune.  Here are some of the ingredients of this formula:  PHysioProtease™ is an enzyme blend that activates the immune system to promote healing and seeks out areas of inflammation and tissue damage.  Astragalus root extract – An antioxidant that helps protect the liver, has many known immune stimulating properties.  Goldenseal root – Contains several alkaloids shown to have anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. Echinacea angustifolia root – Has antiviral, anti-fungal and immune-stimulating effects

What do we do when our immune boosting preventive measures are not adequate and we feel ourselves starting to get a cold or flu? 

I’ve been recommending to patients a Chinese Herbal Formula called Gan Mao Ling to keep on hand for just that time.  This formula has antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be very effective at helping the body overcome an initial disease onset.  This formula is not as effective at building the basic protections as Yu Ping Feng Wan or ProSol™ Immune, but is more effective for initial disease onset.  Here are the ingredients of Gan Mao Ling Wan: Ge Gen (Pueraria Root); Da Qing Ye (Baphicacanthus Leaf); Bo He (Mint); Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum); Jie Geng (Platycodon); Xing Ren (Apricot Seed); Lian Qiao (Forsythia) Gan Cao (Licorice).  Gan Mao Ling Wan, if taken at the onset of a cold or flu, can often help your immune system throw the disease off quickly.

Be prepared for flu season!   If you wish to maintain optimal health through this coming flu season, please schedule an appointment.  We dispense only to our patient base, so if you are not already a patient, you will need to make an initial appointment.  Our best wishes for your good health this flu season!

 

Why Do So Many Patients Exhibit Sensitivities to Wheat? August 23, 2009

Filed under: allergies,food sensitivities,stress — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 2:37 pm
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What is it with wheat?  Why are so many of our patients now testing sensitive to wheat and wheat products?  Wheat is by far the most common food sensitivity we encounter when testing patients.  (Other very common food sensitivities are milk/dairy products, soy products, peanuts, and eggs.)  By simply removing wheat products from the diet, we often see great clinical results, particularly with children.

Wheat probably couldn’t always have been so allergy inducing.  Is it the way wheat is grown and processed in this country?   I’ve had patients who were highly sensitive to wheat here, but who were able to go to Europe and eat the European bread while there with no problems.  Was it just because they were less stressed when on vacation and therefore their digestion performed better?  Or is there a difference in the wheat itself?  When I went to India recently, the wheat there tasted much better than anything I remember having here.  Their wheat was grown locally and probably freshly ground (they were harvesting while I was there); their method of preparation used hot steel and fire and this also probably helped counteract the “damp” producing effects of wheat.  (Damp is a Chinese medical term roughly equivalent to congestion.)

I have read that the type of wheat we are mostly eating today is much higher in gluten than what was historically grown—in other words, the wheat has been bred to be much sticker and starchier than what we historically ate.  The highly refined nature of the wheat and the possible presence of genetically modified wheat are not helpful either.

In addition to the way our USA wheat is grown, stored, and processed, there are probably other environmental stressors that we experience here.  Our country has experienced a vast increase in asthma over the past twenty years.  The same cofactors are probably creating the increase in wheat sensitivities that we see today.  Our overall air quality is much better than in many parts of the world, and yet we are seeing an increase in allergies and asthma.  Why is this?

More on this later….

 

Do Blood Pressure Medications Lead to Diabetes? August 4, 2009

Do Blood Pressure Medications Lead to Diabetes?

I saw an interesting short article about a Johns Hopkins University study the other day in the May 2009 issue of the Townsend Letter:  “Potassium Loss from Blood Pressure Drugs May Explain Higher Risk of Adult Diabetes”.  Here is a link to the article:

 http://www.jhu.edu/~gazette/2008/15dec08/15potassium.html

Basically, one of the side effects of taking diuretics over the long term to control blood pressure may be mineral imbalances and consequent creation of other health problems.  This Johns Hopkins study identified a problem with type 2 diabetes; however blood pressure medications could be creating many other problems that were not searched for in this study. 

This is yet another example of how treating one system without considering the effects on the whole system can lead to many unforeseen problems.  From our standpoint it is much better to deal with the root causes of the problem.  Stress is almost always a contributing factor in high blood pressure and Long Deep Breathing can almost always reduce stress and lower blood pressure readings.   Five minutes of Long Deep Breathing almost always produces a ten to fifteen point reduction in blood pressure readings.   With repeated practice of Long Deep Breathing, the lowered blood pressure readings become more stable; the blood pressure is permanently lowered.  And the other side effects of Long Deep Breathing are all good! 

Pharmaceuticals may sometimes be needed, but they should be used primarily in acute cases where more benign therapies have not worked.

 

Long Deep Breathing July 29, 2009

Filed under: stress,yogic breathing techniques — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 7:23 pm
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Much of what I have to say has been said before, and probably better, by others.  Still, this information may be new to you, or presented in such a way that it registers just right for you.   My hope is that you will find these entries useful in helping to improve your health, longevity, and happiness.

 One of the simplest and most profound ways to 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, 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 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 advertised on TV 15 times a day!