Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

THOUGHTS ON WHOLEHEALTH WELLNESS…..VISIT US AT WWW.KHALSAMEDICINE.COM TO LEARN MORE

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.

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Stress and digestion: how they interact and simple ways to make improvements June 24, 2011

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.

 

Our Long Deep Breathing App has been upgraded! February 11, 2011

Filed under: stress,wellness,yogic breathing techniques — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 10:21 pm
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Our Long Deep Breathing iPhone App has new been updated with some new features and it now supports many other breathing exercises besides Long Deep Breathing.

I received a number of requests to expand the App and enable control of the duration of the inhale, hold-in, exhale and hold-out.  Now the App can do this and for those of you who already have the Long Deep Breathing App already it is a free upgrade.   (For new users:  cost is 99 cents, Works on iPad Touch, iPhone, and iPad, requires operating system iOS 4.1 or later— Just go to the iTunes store and search for Long Deep Breathing, or click this link:

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

Most forms of conscious breathing are very beneficial and breathing exercises (called pranayams in yogic terminology) have been used for millennia to improve physical, mental and spiritual health.  Try the One Minute Breath—20 seconds to inhale, 20 seconds of holding the breath in, then 20 seconds to exhale.  You can use the App to help you gradually build your lung capacity by starting with shorter intervals and gradually lengthening the intervals as you practice over the weeks.

For me having a chime sound and meditating with my eyes closed enables me to go deeper into meditation than if I’m watching a clock or timing my pulses.

Here is what Yogi Bhajan said about the One Minute Breath:  “Use the One Minute Breath each day.  Practice it to the point that you have mastery.  All knowledge of the universe, here and hereafter, of the underworld and the heavenly skies, will dawn on you.”    Even if you don’t achieve all this, you will still feel many benefits!   (Yogi Bhajan is the man who brought kundalini yoga to the western world and I have been following his teachings since 1971.)

So try out the App…my patients and new yoga students love the Long Deep Breathing part of the App…..now more advanced yoga students can time more complicated pranayams!

 

 

Preventing Cancer October 8, 2010

In a sense, we all have cancer.   We all have a small proportion of cancer cells among the trillions of cells that make up our bodies.  The normal healthy immune system easily deals with these, breaking down the cancer cells harmlessly while performing all the other immune functions.  What is normally called Cancer, (groups of cancer cells that become large enough to diagnose) usually occurs after a long period of immune dysfunction.  Allergies, inflammation, poor diet, stress, genetics, poor digestion, exposure to environmental toxins and inability to detoxify all can contribute to this immune system dysfunction.

Our task with WholeHealth WellnessTM is to do everything we can to maintain healthy immune system function before cancer can develop. It seems significant that to my knowledge no patient who has had regular care using WholeHealth WellnessTM has ever been diagnosed with cancer. This is probably not statistically significant and will undoubtedly change at some point; still it is very comforting both for patients and for me as a practitioner.

Acupuncture, herbs, enzyme therapy, homeopathic detoxification, stress reduction, and bioenergetic clearings are all components of WholeHealth WellnessTM .   Using these modalities, we seek to balance and enhance your immune system so that cancer and other diseases never develop in the first place.

Remember the old saying:  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

 

 

PAIN, SUFFERING, AND THE ROAD BACK TO HEALTH July 23, 2010

Pain is one of the major reasons that people seek medical attention, and physical pain is responsible for about 25% of patient visits to our practice.  Pain is very mysterious… sometimes a small stimulus can lead to great pain and likewise, very simple treatments can often lead to great pain reduction.

For physical pain, I often use a technique called “Battlefield Acupuncture”; we insert small gold plated needles into the outer ears and pain intensity usually drops dramatically in a matter of minutes. We see this happening over and over again, even with people who have been in pain for months or years….how can this possibly work?  Read on for our explanation…

What is pain?  We know it when we feel it.   Pain is often defined as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.  In a larger sense, pain can include emotional suffering not specifically tied to tissue damage, but to damage of any sort.  Pain may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable.  Duration and frequency of occurrence can increase our feelings of pain or suffering.

Pain can serve a very useful purpose to motivate us to withdraw from damaging or potentially damaging situations, protect ourselves while healing occurs, and to avoid the causes of pain in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body/mind has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable cause.

The Western medical view is that physical pain is initiated by stimulation of nociceptors in the peripheral nervous system, or by damage/malfunction of the peripheral or central nervous systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine and other forms of Energy Medicine take a very different view:  We view pain as being primarily caused by a blockage of energy. There is an energetic network underlying our physical bodies. When this flow of energy is blocked or constricted for any reason, the body/mind senses this as pain. This applies to emotional suffering as well as physical pain.   (A classic statement of this concept for emotional pain is that attachment leads to suffering, but that is a topic for another day.)

On a physical level, pain causes our muscles to tighten, which in turn compresses the nerves and decreases blood flow.  The nerve compression can increase the feeling of pain, while the reduction in blood flow prevents tissue healing.  Pain caused by trauma is a little different since there is also an inflammatory component; in that case the swollen tissues can also reduce blood flow and compress the nerve endings.

Whatever the cause, reducing or eliminating the energy blockages reduces pain and speeds healing by increasing blood flow.  Emotional pain is more complicated, but restoring energy flow results in much the same results and reduces emotional suffering as well.

We use many techniques to remove blockages and restore energy flow in our practice: body acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, electrical stimulation, yogic breathing, ear acupuncture,  and more.  We try to select the specific modalities that will result in the most rapid improvement for each individual.  For physical pain, I like Battlefield Acupuncture because of the often immediate and dramatic pain reduction it brings….please see our previous blog post about Battlefield Acupuncture for more specific information about this wonderful technique.

While no medical treatment works on everyone all the time, it seems clear to me that people are enduring far more pain and suffering than they need to.  Simple acupuncture techniques that restore energy flow can often dramatically reduce pain and speed recovery times.  Our own clinical results and twenty-five centuries of acupuncture history have demonstrated this over and over.

 

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.

 

Another Long Deep Breathing Newpaper Article!

This article form the Fairfax Times actually came out in December, 2009.   In addition to talking about the Long Deep Breathing App, it talks  about our practice.

Here’s the link:

http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/cms/story.php?id=779

Here’s the article:

by Gregg MacDonald | Staff writer

Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times
Darshan S. Khalsa, of Reston’s Khalsa Integrative Medicine, LLC, displays the iPhone application he helped design to lead users through a series of deep breathing exercises.
A Reston alternative healer has teamed up with a Herndon software developer to create an iPhone software application that helps people practice holistic deep breathing techniques — and it is selling all over the world.