Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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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!

 

 

Cold and Flu Prevention November 8, 2010

Late October/Early November is the traditional start of flu season. Here is what usually happens:  The schoolchildren eat excessive amounts of Halloween candy.  The extra sugar acts to suppress their immune systems.  At the same time, cool, damp weather begins and the children are inside more.  Soon various forms of flu are spreading from child to child in a receptive environment and from there the flu spreads to the adults.

How do we prevent the flu? The general 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 Wan 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!

 

 

Did you know that acupuncture improves your chances of success with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? October 1, 2010

Filed under: acupuncture,stress,Uncategorized — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 1:12 pm
Tags: ,

We have helped many women increase their fertility and have babies, both with and without IVF. Acupuncture helps both by decreasing stress and by redirecting blood and energy flow to the reproductive system.

Here’s a link to a summary of seven NIH studies on this issue of fertility and IVF:

http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/020808.htm

Other recent studies have shown that elevated stress markers were inversely correlated with fertility. This makes a lot of sense…when we are stressed, energy is going to arms, legs, elevated heart rate, short term mental activities and other functions that we would need for “fight or flight”. Therefore our body energy is going away from our reproductive system, our digestive system and all of our other “repair and restore” functions.

 

Stress, Digestion, and Allergies June 22, 2010

In our practice we find stress and poor digestion to be the two health problems at the root of most others.  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 remaining symptoms become much easier to deal with.   We see less pain, less fatigue, better sleep, improved fertility, moods improved, and reductions to allergies when we deal with stress and digestion first.

When stress is reduced, immune system function is automatically improved.  Good digestion gives us the energy to heal.  This is why simultaneously reducing stress and improving digestion results in improvements to so many other symptoms.

 Keys to digestion improvements:

  • Reducing long term chronic stress:  Stress initiates the “fight or flight” syndrome—our body energy goes to where it is needed for “fight or flight” : To the arms, legs, and short term mental functions.  Consequently our energy goes away from digestion, immune system and all of the bodies repair and restore functions.   Long term chronic stress substantially impairs our digestion system.
  • Avoiding highly processed foods (the center aisles of a supermarket mostly contain highly processed industrial foods)
  • Avoiding foods grown on soils with heavy fertilizers and pesticides use.  These result in nutritionally deficient foods.  Our bodies have to work harder to draw nutrition from these foods.
  • 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 less of these; supplementing can result in great improvements to digestion.

 

 What are the usual results of chronically impaired digestion?  

  • Fatigue
  • The creation of food sensitivities and food allergies.

 

 How does impaired digestion lead to the creation of food sensitivities and other immune system dysfunctions?

  • When food is poorly digested in the stomach, incompletely broken down food passes into the intestines.
  • The intestinal walls gradually become inflamed, allowing larger than normal molecules to pass through the intestinal walls into the blood stream.  This is sometimes called “leaky gut” syndrome.
  • The immune system senses these incompletely broken down foods in the blood stream and reacts to them as though they were pathogens.  Gradually allergies to certain foods can be developed.
  • The immune system can become exhausted by having to continually react to foods and may become unable to react to true pathogens, leading to chronic illnesses.  Alternatively, the immune system can become too reactive in general, and begin to attack the bodies own tissues.   This can lead to auto-immune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Remember:  Poor digestion can be successfully treated.  Improving digestion is the first step to clearing allergic sensitivities.  Energy and overall health will also greatly improve once the digestive system is functioning optimally.

 

Allergies June 18, 2010

What is an allergy?

An allergy is an abnormal, adverse physical reaction to an allergen.  The allergens can be either toxins such as automobile exhaust fumes or pesticides, or nontoxins such as pollens or foods.  Allergy sufferers react to small quantities that are harmless to most people.  When exposed to an allergen, allergic individuals develop an excess of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).   These IgE antibodies react with allergens to release histamines and other substances from cell tissues.  These produce the familiar allergy symptoms of watery eyes, runny nose, itching, nausea, hives,  etc…  Allergies can also cause a predisposition to colds and flu by compromising the immune system.

However, not all adverse reactions rise to the level of an IgE allergy reaction detectable by a blood test.  These lesser reactions we call sensitivities. Allergies or sensitivities can be either immediate or delayed.  Allergies/sensitivities  are not a yes or no issue, there is a full spectrum of disorders ranging from mild delayed sensitivities to immediate anaphylactic shock.

What are common symptoms of food sensitivities or food allergies?

  • Congestion
  • Headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diarrhea, constipation or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Acid reflux
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
  • Brain fog
  • Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity, especially in children

The most common food allergies/sensitivities that we encounter in practice are the following:

  • Wheat (usually but not always to the gluten in the wheat)
  • Milk products
  • Peanuts
  • Corn products
  • Soy products
  • Refined sugar (usually not actually an allergy but more of an overdose)

Notes:

  • Wheat is by far the most common food allergy/sensitivity
  • The production of corn and soy is heavily subsidized and corn and soy or their byproducts are found in virtually every processed food.

Many people are sensitive to one or more of these foods and don’t even realize because they consume one or more of these virtually every day.   When these sensitivities are identified and then avoided, most people experience major reductions to their symptoms within two weeks and sometimes within a few days.

Reasons that food sensitivities have become so prevalent today:

  • Stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • Depleted soils
  • Consumption of over refined foods
  • Chronic poor digestion
  • Foods bred for our industrial food system rather than for taste and nutrition
  • Leaky gut syndrome

Food sensitivities or allergies are not necessarily forever! They can be successfully treated.

How we treat food allergies/sensitivities in our practice:

  • First step is always to identify the sensitivities and avoid those foods at least for a while.
  • We treat the body’s energy and re-educate the body’s immune system to respond more appropriately to these non-toxic food substances.  Often we do this in a step-by-step manner, treating each component of the foods:  amino acids, vitamins, minerals, sugars, etc…
  • Stress reduction
  • Digestion enzyme supplementation
  • Assistance with detoxification and repair of damaged body tissues