Friday, February 23, 2018

Brief case study: Asian Bodywork Therapy supporting client in withdrawal from Benzodiazepine

One day, about a year ago, I was manning my chair massage post at a natural food store, when a lady in her mid- to late-forties approached me with wild eyes and the statement "I'm going through withdrawal!" I invited her to sign-in for her session, pre-pay for the time (as is the protocol at this location) and then began to listen to her symptoms as we adjusted the massage chair for her.

She told me that a psychiatrist has been working with her manic depressive disorder for multiple decades. Eight years ago she was given a prescription for a benzodiazepine drug which was supposed to be a ramp down from previous medications. The administering doctor said there were no addictive side effects. For her own reasons my client decided to stop taking the drug and immediately found that her detoxification was quite intense. She had done some online research and found that 3 weeks was the expected duration of the intense withdrawal.
I asked if there was any particular area that she would like me to focus my work on. She replied, "I just need touch." I began working on her shoulders and neck and quickly found that direct and sustained pressure helped her relax. Knowing from my studies that the Fire Organ Networks are the most affected by manic/depressive fluctuations, I inquired of her body if this was a correct assumption. Her Triple Heater meridian (the most peripheral of the Fire Organs) was energetically quivering. The entire Triple Heater meridian is accessible in the massage chair, so once I confirmed that my focus of work felt good to her I treated this meridian thoroughly, including the Zen extension on her legs. I finished with sustained pressure on her Bladder meridian from head to base of spine. 
After the time was over she sat up with a completely different countenance. Her breathing was deep, she seemed to be comfortable in her body and expressed feeling relieved. She set up an appointment for later that week to receive a full Shiatsu session. We had two full-length sessions total. 

For any readers unfamiliar with Shiatsu bodywork, a widely taught method is for the practitioner to listen to the client for clues as to the direction of treatment, but to confirm all clues with a touching assessment of the abdomen (referred to as the "hara"). The Organ Networks are all represented in this area of the body. Gentle and inquisitive touch around the specific assessment areas of the hara will provide the practitioner with a clear comparison of which networks need attention and which are holding extra energy. Listening to the body in this way takes the guessing out of Shiatsu bodywork so the practitioner can focus on being present with the client throughout the session. Re-checking the hara during a session is a common technique used to help stay on track with a body as it balances itself.

The first session was a continuation of the chair massage session. She arrived looking a bit frazzled, but was more emotionally calm than my first meeting with her at the natural food store. The session was focused on the Fire Element vessels, specifically the Pericardium. She relaxed physically as soon as I touched the meridian, and began to process her experience of finding comfort with the nurturing pressure. During the session she asked for suggestions on how to support herself through the detoxification process. Aside from drinking several liters of water per day, which I recommend for anyone working through toxicity, I gave her two pieces of advice. The first was a "homework" assignment given by my Chinese Medicine teacher, to practice belly breathing, 50 breaths per day. This is a simple and accessible form of chi gong and a natural pain management technique. The second was from my own experience with detoxifying, to drink a tablespoon of liquid chlorophyll in water whenever physical discomfort began to creep in. Liquid chlorophyll is nutrient-dense and available at most health food stores. It provides the blood stream with magnesium which supports an alkaline pH environment. I believe we agreed that epsom salt baths would help her on multiple levels, specifically for the full-body feeling of warm support.
She left the session feeling physically comfortable and hopeful that she would be able to get through the full detox with the minor intervention of medical marijuana. Being a resident of Colorado she had been given a medical marijuana permit by her doctors, which had been part of her self-medication for mania. 

When she arrived for her second session, about 10 days later, she looked happy and calm, almost like a different person. She told me that she was in a manic phase. The session was focussed more on the Wood and Water Elements, which I took to be progress toward deeper organ healing. She was indeed full of thoughts about how to move forward without pharmaceuticals. She was pleased that she had made it almost to the end of her three weeks of withdrawal and had no intentions of looking back. Because she had been diagnosed with this disorder at a young age she knew there would always be swings of mania and depression but was committed to coping with them in a natural way. She said that during the manic episodes she was productive, social and able to accomplish tasks. Her bigger problem and fear was that she didn't know when the tide would turn. Once she went down to depression she could not motivate or think well enough to help herself. My suggestion to her, based on my own experiences and personal study, was to supply herself with tools before she needed them. Specifically forms of aromatherapy and mood-supportive flavors. 
Aromas stimulate a response from the limbic part of our brains and if used intentionally can be highly productive in stabilizing moods. Inhaling aromas with "high notes" such as citrus or floral fragrances have historically alleviated the deeper troughs of depression. Asian medical models have always made use of food as medicine. The bitter taste tonifies the Fire Organ Networks, the networks in need of support during depression. In my experience smelling freshly ground coffee is as effective as drinking it, and chewing a cacao bean has a marvelously anti-depressant effect.
At the end of the second session she was satisfied that she had a plan to finish the detoxification from benzodiazepine. She did not reschedule, and was comfortable that she would be able to find me if future need should arise. Anecdotally, she was still in her manic phase when she walked out, but seemed more centered in her resolve.

I have not seen this client since, but feel confident that she has achieved her goal to get clear of pharmaceuticals for manic depressive disorder. My observation is that she was an exceptionally resourced person to begin with, and had been living with this diagnosis for her entire life. It was my honor to be part of the support that helped her through the deep difficulties of withdrawal.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What all is involved in Liver Cleansing?

I'm still in the "almost" phase of my knee recovery (see my Kettlebell Sport blog for that story). Meaning everything feels perfect almost all the time. My primary gauges have been whether the bursa behind my patella are at all swollen, and if I can do all the possible movements with zero sensation. After the Liver Stone Flush I did in Spring both of these markers improved rapidly. My Physical Therapist was very excited with the results and supported my plan to repeat the process. The protocol I've been using is a variation of Dr. Hulda Clark's recommendation as modified by Peter Minke in a pamphlet called "Clarifying Cleansing: Practical Strategies for Cleansing Your Body Holistically." This pamphlet was once available through this website, but it is not available at this site. I will update the post once I have learned where it went.

Emotional Detox Disclaimer
For those who might be interested in following a similar protocol I have this disclosure: it is not only a physical cleanse. Expect to see emotional, mental and spiritual flotsam come to the surface. Or rather, don't be surprised when it shows up. I've been doing yearly fasts, cleanses, flushes and elimination diets for more than 20 years, I'm here to tell you there is always another layer to shed. It is a healing ceremony. 
People may be wondering why I put myself through these intense cleanses. My reasoning first is prevention. Same as the reason people clean out the rain gutters before the rainy season starts. It's easier to flush out toxicity before a crisis. Second, I cleanse for restoration. Of course my most vibrant health was much earlier in life, but have experienced the amazing return of energy and efficient organ functioning after each cleansing process. Additionally, the emotional detoxification of elective healing work may be dramatic, it is far less devastating than what emerges in a state of crisis.

Product Recommendation Disclaimer
The YoungLiving supplements mentioned here are certainly not the only possible options. I have mentioned specific commercially available products if I have experience with them. YoungLiving has one main feature that makes it worth the higher price, they add therapeutic grade essential oils to almost everything they sell. In my experience this both increases it's efficacy on a cellular level and enhances the product's consistency. The only way to get YoungLiving products is to order them online, or physically go to the distributing site (Lehi, UT, in the USA). To order you will need an "upline" as it is a multi-level market structure. If you call a customer service person, he/she will ask if you have a distributor that you'd like to sign up under. If not, you will be assigned to a random upline. If you would like to be in my downline (I'm a very hands-off group leader) use distributor #705744. If you sign-up online put this number in the fields for both Enroller and Sponsor.  
You will also need to choose your membership status. I have been a distributor since 2003, so think that paying retail price is ridiculous.

Large Intestines/Colon
Back to the physical cleanse, when you think about it, there is reason to do a cleanse with specific order. As in the "clean the rain gutters" metaphor above, it makes sense to clear out the lowest point of elimination in preparation for what will come from the upstream organs later. In my experience, colon/large intestine cleansing is the easiest way to start and can be a stand-alone organ refresher.This does not require as much dietary modification as other organs, but necessitates more purified water consumption. Why this is so is that the large intestines, when performing optimally, will re-absorb any remaining nutritional fluid before excreting solid waste. The organ is lined with mucous to facilitate this process, however through the consumption of toxins such as pesticides, preservatives and undigested foods, the mucous becomes dehydrated and begins to hold waste rather than eliminate it. 
A thorough intestinal cleanse will require a few ingredients. You need a mucilaginous fiber to bind with the build-up, something that is bulk-forming and absorbent to create a solid mass, and a laxative substance to increase peristalsis. Most cleansing mixes make use of psyllium husk, bentonite clay and cascara sagrada. Also important are anti-microbial ingredients such as cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger. If you are not an herbal specialist I suggest checking into ready-made mixes rather than trying to make it yourself. 

These two Intestinal Cleanse products are blends I have used with great success:
CorforTone (YoungLiving) ComforTone is very thorough and comes in capsule form. This product also contains diatomaceous earth (said to absorb mercury, pesticides and undigested proteins from the bowels) and YoungLivings patented therapeutic grade essential oils. It can be used in an on-going basis at various doses.

Perfect 7 (Agape Health Products)   Perfect 7 is the product I've used most and recommend to clients who do want something easily available. It is found in well-stocked natural food stores, also by mail-order, and comes in capsule or powder form. This is the first colon cleansing product I used and remains my go-to for deep cleansing of the bowels. The biggest trick of Perfect 7, aside the extra water, is to take it two hours after a meal and at least 30 minutes before eating. When I first came to Perfect 7 it was suggested to start with a smaller amount and move up to 2 teaspoons/dose as the bowels gained bulk and began to eliminate toxins. There was no recommendation on how long to take the stuff, so I took a whole bottle over the course of 2 months. Now the recommendation is one heaping teaspoon, take 5 - 7 days and repeat each season. I personally feel it is a question of need. For a first ever colon cleanse it's a good product to start with because after the initial bloating (some constipation may happen if your system is dehydrated to begin with) it is quite comfortable. Mass will come out that you don't remember eating... plus you may actually notice less mucous in general. I have not tried Perfect 7 in capsule form.

The next organ system to cleanse is the kidney. The kidneys provide fluid filtration, purification and fluid waste elimination functions. All of our blood gets filtered through the kidneys, so you can imagine what might get stuck in the glomeruli and eventually become stones.
A safe strategy to cleanse out the kidneys is to ingest blood cleansing agents and substances that gently dissolve the hard debris.
Simple blood and kidney cleansing methods of the ages: stop consuming preservatives or additives; dramatically increase pure water intake; add fresh lemon juice to some or all of your water; drink diuretic juices, specifically unsweetened cranberry juice (tart!!); consume high amounts of celery, beets and other anti-oxidant foods such as tart cherries, blueberries and spinach. Herbal supports include nettle, burdock, juniper, uva ursi, parsley and dandelion root. (People in near-crisis state may be advised to drink only distilled water, as hard water contains minerals that may clog up the kidneys.) As with all organ cleansing, if you are not well-versed in herbal medicine or natural healing, I suggest either keeping it simple with nutritional support only and/or using pre-made herbal products.

The one product I've used with success is YoungLiving's K&B Tincture This is another high-quality product that includes essential oils. The dosage is measured in droppers-full, so I recommend getting two bottles at once if you feel that your kidneys need a good flushing out. A full dose (3 droppers 3 times daily) will run you through the first bottle in about 2 weeks. 

I know there are great pre-mixed herbal teas and supplements available at health food stores, but I haven't tried them. My main practice has been to take at least one bottle of K&B in the winter. More recently I have been creating my own "kidney hooch" with a blend of essential oils with glycerine based tinctures. I am not fond of the grain alcohol content of tinctures, perhaps my liver cleanses have soured me on using alcohol as a cure. The effect of a thorough kidney cleanse (once you've gotten used to plenty of extra trips to the bathroom) is an ease in low/mid-back discomfort, reduced swelling around the ankles and increase in energy overall. Because the adrenal glands are closely related with kidney functioning, you may also notice a drop in your stress-response and more restful sleep.

If you're going to be thorough with physical systems cleansing, the next step is parasite cleansing. I'm not saying you want to scrub those little buggers up so they are nice and shiny, I'm talking about killing them off. Once you've got a good intestinal cleanse underway parasite genocide can be done simultaneously. Some signs that the guts are overloaded with parasites include unexplained IBS symptoms (constipation or diarrhea), unexplained skin disorders such as rashes or hives, weak immunity, inability to recover from a food poisoning episode, unusually voracious appetite and lethargy. Parasites come from undercooked meat, contaminated water and contaminated fruits/vegetables. It is said that anyone who travels through an undeveloped country is going to pick up parasites.

To clear them out you will need anti-parasitic herbs at the least. To be more thorough, combine the herbs with a mild electrical charge. 
The three herbs suggested by Dr. Hulda Clark are cloves, wormwood and black walnut hull tincture. I have not tried this protocol, but trust that anyone with clear signs of parasite overgrowth will benefit from it. 

My experience has been with another quality product from YoungLiving for this purpose, ParaFree, which is loaded with powerful essential oils, sesame seed and olive oil leaf extract. This one can be self-regulated in dosage, but is recommended for only 21 consecutive days per month.

The above-mentioned electric charge is in the form of the Zapper.
The one I've used is a 9-volt unit with an on-off switch and metal leads to hold. The specific directions are to hold the leads, covered with wet paper towel, for 7 minutes, set them down for 21 - 40 minutes, and repeat twice (for a total of three 7-minute "zapping" sessions). In Peter Minke's "Clarifying Cleansing" protocol it is recommended to start Zapping once daily on the second week (after one week of taking ParaFree, intestinal cleansing and enzymatic support) and continue along with the parasite cleanse supplement for the next two weeks leading up to the liver stone flush. He recommends to continue taking ParaFree for the week after liver cleanse without zapping.

Digestive System
Part of the lead up to the liver stone flush in Minke's protocol is a product from YoungLiving called Detoxzyme  This is a digestive enzyme supplement. As part of the cleanse it will make available starches, proteins, fats and minerals that may be siting in the guts in non-assimilable form. I note it here to be thorough in my description of the complete systems cleanse and will pick up the subject again after liver stone flush.

Why all this work to get to the liver? The liver detoxifies our blood. If it cannot expel toxicity the liver will neutralize and stored it. If it purges this stored toxicity while the down-stream organs are still clogged chances of a miserable "toxic rebound" are high. Meaning when the liver is stimulated to release toxic build-up it needs to be eliminated immediately. If the lower bowels are not prepared to do this the small and large intestines will function as usual, attempting to assimilate and re-absorb any nutrient to be found while the kidneys filter the fluid dross. The result is re-toxification of the entire digestive and eliminatory systems. The blood then carries the remaining toxic waste that can't be eliminated the second time back to the liver to be neutralized and stored again. It's a hangover lasting 3 to 7 days. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to do a thorough liver cleanse to prepare the lower organs to release immediately! 

Here's the "elephant gun" of liver stone cleanses and the one I've used with great results.  This requires two full days to complete. It must be planned into your schedule. The first day you will eat only fat-free food for breakfast and lunch, finishing with all food and water in the early afternoon. This begins the 20- to 24-hour fast, which allows the stomach to empty and all gastric process to move into lower digestion. In the early evening you will prepare your intestines for the above-mentioned quick release with two doses of a strong epsom salt water solution, taken in two-hour increments. Preparation of the cleansing catalyst, a mix of olive oil and citrus juice (fresh squeezed from lemon/lime or grapefruit) happens just before bed. Drink the mix with additional sleep and purgative aids if needed (refer to Dr. Clark's time line instructions for more details), and lay down. First thing in the morning of day 2 follow-up with more epsom salt water, figure out what happens when gravity is applied to your system, and take a second follow-up dose of epsom salt water to fully flush out the liver stones and chaff that was released (four epsom salt water doses total). Fresh water never tasted so good as it does after all that epsom salt. In a few hours you can drink juices, then some fruits. Perhaps broth or a soup later in the day and a meal at night. 

Peter Minke suggests a coffee enema after the majority of brown/green/blue bile blobs and other liver discharge seems to be out. This is an attempt to clear all bile stones out of the colon before regular digestion resumes. I've done this a few times but found that the coffee caused a detox headache, so have skipped it on recent cleanses with no ill-effects and no headache. Perhaps this would be a good idea for someone who is already familiar with coffee enemas as a detox stimulant.

I hadn't read Dr. Clark's full protocol until researching this article, so haven't know about the black walnut hull tincture or follow-up zapping. She advises a thorough parasite cleanse, which you can find on the right hand side bar on the website linked above, or the link at the end of the second paragraph in "Parasites" section above.

For the most recent two liver stone flushes I've included the 7-day malic acid preparation as recommended in this blog post by Gillian B:  Malic acid is found in apples, apple juice and apple cider vinegar (the strongest concentration per ounce). Rather than drinking a liter of apple juice each day for the week, I opted for the 4 oz (half cup) of raw apple cider vinegar each day. This lasted about two days, then I started combining the vinegar dose with 16 oz (2 cups) of apple juice and 16 oz of water. Even at that dilution raw apple cider vinegar hits the stomach hard! This was the most difficult part of my last two cleanses.

People have asked me how to do a liver cleanse without the intensity of apple cider vinegar or the epsom salt + olive oil/juice experience. So far I have not found anything that doesn't require at least a few days of diet modification and the specific olive oil/juice intensity, but here are some ideas for those who want to explore other options. The last link leads to a 14-day cleanse, which may be the easiest.

I found quite a bit of information from Dr. Josh Axe, who is an abundant resource for those who learn from video.  He talks about it in multiple steps: go through a dietary clean up; then add foods that will support the liver; work through the emotional detoxification process; supplements and diet additions to rejuvenate the liver; but ultimately advises doing a full out liver flush with the olive oil and citrus juice. Rather than the full intestinal cleanse, kidney prep and parasite eradication, he advises to eat only apples and raw vegetables, and drink apple juice for 1 - 3 days before the liver stone flush. I haven't tried it, but imagine it is an adequate shortcut if you don't plan to lift anything heavier than a two gallon jug of juice on day three. Anyone who has an active lifestyle will certainly notice the loss of power after two days of eating only apples. Dr. Axe's liver flush does not include the epsom salts, but I'm guessing all the lower digestive organs will be pure liquid by that time anyway.

Dr. Edward Group has his own 5-day cleansing protocol. This plan may work well for anyone who wants to follow a recipe for the whole 5 days. His method makes use of apple cider vinegar and a dose of epsom salt water, but both are very diluted. 
The lower link is to his special liver cleansing products, which seems reasonably priced compared with the investment in a YoungLiving product cleanse. The full protocol culminates in the olive oil thing. 

This link offers a "gentle" 14 day complete package. I found it by following this link: I do not know what is in her kit, but it includes all the supplementation, a grocery list and 2 consultations. It seems reasonably priced considering there is a bit of personal guidance. If anyone who reads this post explores this option, will you please let us all know more about it in the comment lines? 

Post-Flush follow-up
The first few times I did this cleanse I returned to food with total abandon. After all, I figured, I was doing the supplementation so why not take advantage of the heightened sense of taste and smell that comes with a well-flowing liver. Coffee was more rich, ice cream more sensational, chocolate more exciting and salt added more pizzaz! And I could catch a buzz on a shot of beer. 
At this point in my self-healing work the party of the senses no longer appeals to me. The more times I've flushed my liver the more I crave foods that digest well, and feel supportive of my life. Now it's exciting how much better my supplements work, and how my emotions affect my physical comfort. Several cleanses ago all of my typical seasonal allergies went away, and I've noticed the effect of essential oils to be more potent.

Using food as dietary support, the liver responds well to broccoli (the crucifor vegetables), lemons, apples, dark leafy greens, artichokes, garlic and turmeric. By all accounts meat protein is good if it comes from clean sources. Of course the main rule of healthy eating is minimize sugars, preservatives, flavor enhancers and pesticides/herbicides. Foods made at home are generally healthier as long as the ingredients are "clean" and not overcooked. Here is a link for Dr. Group's top 14 recommendations for liver healthy foods. 

Peter Minke's cleansing pamphlet recommendation is JuvaTone , which I used on multiple occasions. I do remember enjoying the benefit of these chewable tablets. The part I didn't care for was the yucky tasting breath it left. The main thing it has that you cannot find anywhere else is a proprietary essential oil blend. There are two companion products: JuvaSpice and JuvaFlex, which I have not experienced enough to draw an opinion.

For my current liver support I've been using Jarrow Formulas' Liver Optimizer:
I determined this by muscle-testing (a.k.a. applied kinesiology) the liver support products at my well-stocked natural foods store. Muscle-testing is certainly not a scientist-approved method of selecting nutritional support. Some people are certain they can rig the results, and so they can. Having said that, I've seen some very smart people use much less informed methods for selecting supplements. To each his own. It works for me because I am open to the energetic awareness of what my body wants to experience. Suffice it to say that the Liver Optimizer formula seems to support my need for additional detoxification as my PT has been rubbing hydrocortisone into my knees.

Thyroid Support
Much can be said about the thyroid and its vital function in our health that I'm not going to say here. For anyone who has symptoms of thyroid imbalance, (difficulty waking, dehydration symptoms, lack of appetite, swelling in the throat or throat pain, brain fog, symptoms of hormone imbalance, cold extremities, it's quite an inclusive list as the thyroid interacts with all the body's functions) I recommend becoming more informed about how to correctly supplement. Most of what I've seen contains thyroid and glandular extract from animal sources.
The thyroid support product from YoungLiving Thyromin  contains porcine pituitary and adrenal extract. I used Thyromin for the first two or three cleanses but was not overly taken with it's effects. The main ingredient I've noticed fitting into my health needs is iodine, so I've incorporated more seaweed into my diet and use only sea salt for recipes. My favorite sea veggies are dulse, kelp and wakame. When my thyroid function seems taxed I notice a craving for these foods. 

Digestive Support
In response to my long-term healing experience I have recently taken up the study of unlocking the vital nutrients in my food. My primary source of information has been Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. I learned volumes from the Introduction. One sentence of consequence: "Enzymes are complex proteins that act as catalysts in almost every biochemical process that takes place in the body." (p. 46, Revised Second Edition, 2001) An important factoid that I adopted immediately is that most of our grain foods are prepared incorrectly. Grains and seeds contain an enzyme-inhibitor to prevent being eaten out of existence by potential natural predators (such as birds, insects, etc.). Indigenous humans learned how to unlock the nutrition in grains and seeds by a simple method: soaking it in purified water for up to 24 hours before cooking. The soak time can be shortened to 7 hours by adding vinegar, whey or lemon juice to the water. Slightly more high-tech is sprouting then roasting. I started soaking my rice, oats, amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat and noticed two things right away; first, my digestion was much easier, and second, I didn't want to eat as much as I had in the past.

Another revelation in my study is that our pancreas get worn-out by the demands of digestion. Including enzyme-rich foods into the diet will take some of the load off. The inclusion of cultured foods (such as sauerkraut, pickles, preserved vegetables, cultured dairy products, fermented fish and aged meats) as part of the cuisine is a natural adaptation made by indigenous groups. These foods, at least the vegetable and dairy variety, are now being marketed for their "probiotic" content. With a bit of education, time and a few special tools, cultured foods can be made at home. Naturally occurring enzymes have been my preference, as unadulterated krauts are not available in every store. Mangos, papayas, apples, figs and red meat cooked rare to med-rare are some of my top picks, though the list is far more extensive than this.  

So there you have it, the full story of cleansing, follow-up supplementation and dietary support as I know it. This is by no means the only way to care for the organs. The post was inspired by the number of people who have asked me "What all is included in a liver cleanse?" As you can see it is not a short answer. There is not an instant fix for liver congestion nor a handful of pills that will make it go away. Because I'm adapted to the routine of cleanses after 14 years of doing them, the whole liver stone flush routine does not daunt me, but it does require some planning  and a special focus on the diet for at least a month month.

I certainly hope this helps you, thank you for reading all the way to the bottom.
Wishing you abundant health!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Autumn: letting go and freeing space

Autumn has arrived. In a classic sense we know it to be the time of letting go, for the leaves to fall, to shed the old and prepare for colder weather. Lest we forget one important aspect it is also a time to create space for new energy to come in.

Autumn in context of the Metal/Air Elemental Phase
Metal stretch pt. 1: inhale
In Chinese medical theory the element associated with Autumn is Metal/Air, its organ association is the Lung Network (Lung is the yin organ and Large Intestine is the yang bowel).
You did read that correctly, Metal and Air are considered the same elemental phase.

We commonly associate metal with consistent structure. It conducts electricity, vibration and temperature while maintaining it's form, but metal it is a state of matter that transforms. With enough heat it evaporates water and eventually melts. Enough cold makes metal retain water and harden. In the presence of specific other molecules it rusts or corrodes and changes it's primary nature.

In much the same way air transforms according to environment. Like metal, air evaporates water when warm and condenses water when cool. Though air may seem less solid than metal, it provides an immediate structure for our reality. The first breath of air is our initial interaction with life, and the last breath is positive indication that a person has left this world. With every breath we transform the air around us. Air conducts constant molecular exchanges among animate and inanimate beings.

So in our bodies the Lungs and Large Intestines provide the inhale/exhale, intake/output functions that begin at birth and continue until death. It is a perpetual exchange with the world around us, transforming substance through our natural living processes. Much like the season of Autumn, through the Metal/Air aspects of our bodies we draw the environment in, transform it, and then return what is no longer of use to us.

Metal stretch pt 2: exhale
Ways to maximize the seasonal energy: balance climate & support organs
In the Chinese medicine flow, we transform our inner environment throughout the year. The climate associated with the Lung Network is dryness. This balance is achieved with spicy, pungent flavors.
Our bodies will naturally crave flavors that support dryness in Autumn. The preceding season, Doyo, is the season of dampness. The Doyo flavor is sweetness which nourishes and supports digestion. If sweetness has been overdone dampness gathers causing sluggishness and stasis. Signs that the body has become "damp" are nasal congestion, excessive mucous, swelling in the joints and constipation.

Autumn flavors stimulate and dry the internal environment. Spicy herbs that provide this function include capsicum, pepper, rosemary, thyme and ginger. Drying allows the natural cleansing of digestive organs that have been dampened. Spicy/pungent foods such as onion, scallion, garlic, leak and radish are also effective for this function.

Conversely, if the body has not gathered enough dampness it may be too dry. This causes nasal membranes and skin to crack and bleed. Constipation is often a dry heat condition, which may be due to insufficient cell hydration. In these instances we may naturally move toward sweet and moisturizing foods such as red dates, beans, grains, and oily foods. Also look for electrolyte/mineral-rich beverages and purified water rather than sugary and caffeinated drinks to rebalance the Large Intestine.
A simple external solution for nasal congestion is nasal irrigation. And of course there's the good old fashioned coffee enema for more persistent clogs.

Metal stretch pt 3: inhale
The most common way to support the Lung and Large Intestine in Autumn is a colon cleanse. Cleansing agents may be as simple as high fiber additions to the diet or as complex as two- to three-week cleansing routines.

The simplest seasonal cleanse is slight modification of the diet. Large portions of cooked leafy green vegetables or adding ground flaxseed to hot cereal and baking mixes provide ample roughage for this purpose. This is a great way to keep the bowels flowing as colder weather changes the hours spent in outdoor activities.

Tea made from plants with purgative properties are more thorough yet still gentle. Some time-tested natural laxative herbs are cascara sagrada and senna, both common remedies for constipation. These are helpful for a deeper clean than dietary fiber can offer and are useful for a 7 - 14 day cleansing routine. Pre-made laxative or detoxifying tea blends will take the guess work out of finding the right mixture for this type of cleanse.

For even more thorough cleansing, use substances that absorb moisture and toxins such as a combination of psyllium and bentonite clay. This approach leaches dross from the inner gut lining and stimulates deep intestinal contraction to expel waste. My favorite pre-blended product is Perfect 7 which I find effective as a general Autumn cleanse. This product will involve a slight alteration in the timing of meals and requires increased water consumption for optimal results. It is recommended for a two week intestinal scour and may be repeated every other or every three months. 

For those who are new to intestinal cleansing or shy away from potentially intense experiences a gentle laxative tea may be the best start.

The whole picture: mental and emotional release and renewal
Metal stretch pt 4: exhale
Back to the pages of Chinese tradition we are advised to make use of the external season to support balance in our internal experience. The energy of transformation is high in the outer world. We can take the example of natural beings and allow our own Metal/Air element to balance. The psychological and emotional correspondences are attachment/release and grieving respectively.

Much like the physical functions of the Lung and Large Intestine, our minds naturally take input from the outside world and synthesize the useful parts into our existing structure. In an ideal world we release anything that does not serve us and carry on. In the real world we most likely take in the useful and hang on to the extra material just in case we need it later. If you don't think that applies to you, you may be the only clutter-free person on the planet! Our tendency to "hold on" mentally can be seen in the stacks of miscellaneous notes, buckets of small hardware or piles of clothes we haven't worn for years. Are there better places for these spare parts than in your personal space?

Emotionally we focus on allowing grief to flow through us. When this occurs in its natural timing our Lungs and Large Intestines move along with the same releasing energy and space is freed for new experiences. In the real world our grieving may be inconvenient or somehow stigmatized, so it becomes suppressed. The energy of stored grief closes down our lungs. After all, if someone who denies his or her grief takes a full, deep breath it just might stimulate tears. As anyone who has faced deeply suppressed grieving knows the spirit of courageousness is a companion to the energy of grieving. When loss is fully expressed and released a sensation of lightness comes into a person's life. It is as if he/she is taking the first breath of fresh air in years!

Grief is not the only emotion that clogs up our Metal/Air space. Holding frustration, anxiety, fear or sadness causes thickening in our bodies. Though it is emotional energy, it may cause physical symptoms of constipation and accumulation in the mucous passages. A combination of physical and emotional clearing can release stagnant emotional baggage, but earnest interest in moving on is also necessary to completely pass this type of stagnation.

On both mental and emotional levels, when we only attach to what serves our lives we effortlessly release what would congest our space. The Autumn season provides energy to clear out those unneeded bits of physical and emotional stuff in our lives. Though it seems daunting at the start, every time a person does the work of clearing out old, stale matter it frees the space for new opportunity to arrive.

For external physical support, I recommend the gentle and thorough practice of body work therapy.
Please feel free to schedule with me for Shiatsu therapy during my Boulder, CO, office hours:
Spruce Street: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 - 2pm
Iris Avenue: Tuesday, 4 - 8pm
Contact the Spruce Street studio at 303-440-1992, and the Iris Avenue center at 303-413-1992.

Best wishes for a clear and healthy Autumn!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Summer is Heart season

and you know what that means... Some of the common descriptors of the Fire element include heat, fire, passion, parties, love. 

Some less known, or perhaps less desirable, attributes of this season are excessive heat, sunburn, dehydration, mania, miscommunication.

Wait, what? Mania? Miscommunication? In this post I'd like to shed some light on how this is a natural human tendency. Some of this information may not fit perfectly into life as you know it.

In the Chinese theory of health there are 5 spiritual essences that reside within our bodies. Shen is the one that inhabits the heart of all living beings, corresponds with Summer and is associated with the Fire element. This word that has several meaningsMy focus for this post is the primary reference: divine spirit or god. This is a universal, heavenly energy.

Through shen we are connected beyond the human experience with all livers of life! Humans find kinship with all creatures, insects and plants through this common bond. Those who focus on this innate connection communicate clearly and are enriched through this expression. Famous people in history are St. Francis of Assisi, Jane Goodall and "horse whisperers." 

Another way we use Shen is to convey our unique passion to others. Most commonly through the arts, shen is the source of inspiration for visual, performance and musical artist. Much to our delight food and drink creations "made from the Heart" are nourishing and delicious manifestations of shen. Artists who develop refined capacity for this expression become "household names," as with Ansel Adams, Meryl Streep and Julia Child.

In addition to the external,  creative expressions shen also manifests through internal expression. It may be called empathy, intuition or a psychic sense, this is an impression that calls one inward for deeper knowing. In a fantasy story this is the person who perceives the intention of the other group and diverts disaster. In ancient cultures this caliber of perception is more than a myth. The 8 Immortals are revered figures in Chinese history, human beings who achieved spiritual perfection and became guides for all who would follow them. In other cultures there are examples of seers retained by political leaders to advise them at crucial turning points. This type of intuitive was often cloistered or disguised for various reasons, thus their names are rarely seen in history. 

As with the expressive gifts of art, music and foods, the inner gifts of shen must be nurtured and grown. In modern cultures a powerful intuition is not the prized gift it once was, thus people endowed with a strong flow of shen must find some way to release the intensity of their knowing. Many make use of the expressive arts for this outlet. They paint, sculpt, write and compose with unique styles that touch our lives more deeply. Examples are seen in Salvador Dali, Emily Dickinson and Stephen King, artist who clearly have more than the average message to convey.

People who have no access to creative mediums may use suppressants or are medicated to keep their intuitive capacity under control. Many who are not addressed for their unique awareness through shen may develop patterns of manic depression (extreme highs of emotional energy followed by dramatic lows) or other "psychotic" behavior. The use of drugs, legal or not, is quite likely part of the "self-medicating" routine of these folks. In Chinese health care this may be called a "shen imbalance," meaning the spirit is not at home in the person's heart and produces erratic emotional expressions in an attempt to find peace.

But I have not addressed the point of miscommunication. Our hearts express themselves through our tongues, according to the Chinese theory. However, sometimes our hearts have something to say that our minds, cultures or relationships do not want to hear. This, too is a natural condition of humanity, and has no end of historic examples. 

On an individual level, we may all choose to slow down the flow of our lives to sort out the real truth of our hearts. This may be the most practical use of meditation and prayer. For those prepared to "take heart" and untangle communication, know that there is no need or desire of the human heart that does not have a place in life. Though it may bring us to deep humility, patience and change, our hearts are vessels of divine connection. In one way or another this reality is bound to bring our personal truth to fruition.

Wishing you joy, truth and love as the summer comes to a close.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Doyo, The Transition Season

The Five Elements Theory of life is a perspective on our world that takes into account the "elements" or "phases" of the natural world. The elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Air/Metal and Earth. As a treatment method, each of these phases has direct relationship to our bodies.
(For more information about this see my writing on the Six Divisions of Yin and Yang)

Cherokee Medicine Wheel
You have noticed in our standard calendar we have four seasons, which are easy enough to match up with four of the elements. Water corresponds with Winter, Wood represents Spring, Fire is the energy of Summer, and Air/Metal represents Autumn. Yet there is Earth. Five Elements theory recognizes this as the Transition Season, called  Doyo ("for the Earth") in Japanese. There are four Doyo phases in a year, approximately 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after each Solstice/Equinox. So the seasons are Winter, Doyo, Spring, Doyo, Summer, Doyo, Autumn, and Doyo. The Transition Season is beautifully illustrated in the traditional Medicine Wheel image (right) with the four main seasons represented each in a different color and the Earth Season shown as the spokes and hub of the year.

To backtrack just one step, the Earth element in our bodies correspond to the Spleen & Pancreas (considered one organ in Chinese Medicine, but referred to as "Spleen" for convenience), and the Stomach. These organs manage our nourishment, primary digestion, blood re-building, fluid normalization, and stabilize every other organ in it's position in our body. Thus the Earth Organ Network, the Spleen, is known as the Mother Organ of our bodies because of how much it does to nurture all other vital processes. Nature-based health care considers the Spleen function the most important process to support health, thus the philosophy "make food your medicine," is echoed in the axiom "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

During the Earth Season people see three main types of illness. The most common is the effects of dietary slips from previous seasons, which may manifest as weight gain, brain fog and achy joints. Second, physical injuries that were not fully healed re-surface. The third Earth Season ailments is mental/emotional fatigue coming home to roost from "being every where for everyone." This one will compromise the immune system if ignored, resulting in an out-of-season flu. So you can see that the Transition Season represents the Earth Phase in our external and internal lives. It is a time to pay attention to our whole body, to attend to unresolved problems and to nurture our personal needs.

Simple dietary solution is to cut down all preservatives, refined foods, sweets and anything that is slow to digest (heavy meats, hard cheeses, raw salad, dense bread) until mid-way through the next season. Incorporate colorful root vegetables and cooked or steamed greens, lighter meats and broth-based soups. Substitute desserts with fresh or dried fruits, and put a little more time between meals to allow complete digestion. Cleansing from alcohol and common toxins for a month will also allow the Earth Organ Network to function more efficiently with generally beneficial effects.

Sitting, the Spleen posture!
Actions to restore the Spleen Network are get more sleep, let go of excess busy work, delegate tasks that do no require your full attention, and re-incorporate favorite activities that bring you happiness. Breathing is a simple activity that greatly benefits the Spleen, so take in some fresh air!

Receiving bodywork will help remind you how good it feels to be in balance with your body and help heal that old injury. Mat-styles of bodywork are oriented around the organ networks, and thus elicit natural healing processes. Being closer to the ground and comfortably clothed will help restore a feeling of connection with the Earth and it's natural rhythm.

In Boulder, Colorado, the only reliable source of mat-style bodywork is the Bodywork Bistro. You can find out more at

Please feel free to schedule with me, Chistian Goldberg, for Shiatsu therapy during my office hours:
Spruce Street: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 - 2pm
Iris Avenue: Tuesday, 4 - 8pm
Contact the Spruce Street studio at 303-440-1992, and the Iris Avenue center at 303-413-1992.

Best wishes for a healthy Transition Season!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Basic information about physical and spiritual cleansing

It is becoming spring in my neck of the woods, so the impulse to do Spring Cleaning is up. No coincidence it is also the season of Lent. Though this is a custom most common to Christians, it is not an exclusively Christian practice. Voluntarily modifying the diet, fasting and other forms of purification are known as beneficial in most cultures.

Perhaps the most relevant similarity between physical and spiritual cleansing is seen in the adding or subtracting of substance from the daily routine. In both cases, chemical preservatives and mild toxins, such as alcohol, are discouraged. However it can be anticipated that physical level cleansing will recommend the addition of a specific natural substance for the duration, while a spiritual cleanse is more likely to recommend further subtraction of substance.

Physical Cleanses
Through time natural healers have learned to isolate and clear dead energy from any organ or physical system of the body. The process involved requires complete commitment on the part of the person being cleansed. The "cleansee" must be willing to modify daily consumption and ingest substances that would otherwise never appeal to the palate.
For instance, the most effective way to rid a person of multiple physical concerns is a colon cleanse. A typical protocol would suggest first ridding the diet of red meat, dairy, breads, sugar, and caffeinated/alcoholic beverages, as all of these have a binding, inflammatory or dehydrating effect. Then a specific cleansing agent, such as an herbal supplement, tea or substance such as charcoal or clay is added in specific proximity with meals. High fiber foods, such as spinach or broccoli, may be recommended additions to the menu.
Some of the colon-cleansing agents have a filling and leaching effect, which cause sluggish bowels in the first few days. Herbs may be recommended to stimulate contraction in the bowels to help deeply seated dead matter move out. This initial stage of discomfort is unavoidable, particularly for a person who is cleansing for the first time, and is the case with most other system cleanses.  Ideally no cleanse causes constipation lasting more than two days, however there may be diarrhea, a feeling of nervous tension, fatigue or emotional sensitivity for the beginning phase of any physical clean out. This is the initial physical release of waste matter, and on the emotional level functions as a sort of testing phase to make sure the person is willing to go the entire distance. As long as he/she persists, the discomfort will eventually pass. In one cleansing manual, the author prescribes prayer during this well-known initial release.
Once the bulk of stagnant matter is cleared a person will notice a greater physical ease. There will be a new relationship established with the toilet, but, a physical cleanse may begin at a person's convenience, and continue from 4 days to two months. Aside from slight dietary modifications and the addition of a cleansing agent, basic physical-level procedures may be added to the every day routine.

Beyond dietary additions, people with a history of cleansing have found benefit from external processes to support deeper physical cleansing once the first levels of toxicity have been removed. In the case of a colon cleanse, this may be enemas or colonic therapies. External processes for other types of cleanse range from holding a low-voltage electric circuit to daily Epsom salt baths to topical essential oil application to swallowing large doses of oil and/or vinegar. With this sort of process a person must modify everyday routines to accommodate time for the specific process. The duration of deeper cleaning protocols can be anywhere from three days to three weeks, and may be added into the basic physical cleanse time.
Someone doing his/her first physical cleanse is better off not adding external cleansing processes.

Spiritual Cleanses
These are often re-enactments of major turning points in the history of a spiritual group. Examples in major religions are Lent, Passover and Ramadan. Native American traditions perform the Sun Dance. These prescribed cleanses subtract specific foods (such as leavened bread, meat, meals in daylight hours, or all food and water) and certain activities, such as foul language, work or non-cleansing social contact.  Once the initial preparations have been made, spiritual community gatherings are increased during holy seasons. Depending upon the tradition the season may be from 7 days to 40 days long. Spiritual cleanses coincide with specific times in the year and have an exact duration. 
For instance, one orthodox tradition of Lent recommends eliminating all meat, fish, dairy, wine and oils one week before the season begins, and continuing for the 40 day period eating sparingly all but two days each week. For the entire Lent period there is one day specified for a complete fast (Good Friday). The addition of prayer and spiritual gatherings are highlighted during this process, and it is known that only the most pious (clergy) will be able to keep all the rules.

Eliminating any one food or substance from the diet itself will stimulate a physical level cleanse complete with the initial discomfort mentioned in above. Therefore, all people who take part in a regular spiritual cleanse will receive physical benefits. In contrast with physical cleansing, no specific substance is added to the diet, thus no internal process to draw a person's focus to his/her physical comfort. Rather the external process of attending community service, reading specific passages of holy texts and making personal offerings begins early in the ceremony. This makes any one persons process part of a larger community effort to gain clarity and greater connection with Divine Source presence.
From the beginning a person must modify daily activities to enact a Spiritual Cleanse. It is said in earth-based medicine, "the entire natural world supports a fasting person," thus many people will find themselves more often in nature or the stillness of a holy shrine during the depths of this season. It is a time apart from the regular flow of social life, a retreat for contemplation and personal communion.
Another specific difference in spiritual level work is in giving to others. This may be in the form of financial charity and/or in the focus of prayer. One church community may give prayer during Lent for a special purpose, such as the seeding of a new church, while Sun Dancers each carry the prayers of many people from many places in their time together.  In this way each spiritual cleanse opens a path for a sacrifice of sorts on behalf of others.

Ending a Cleanse 
In both physical and spiritual cleanses there are specified ways to "break the fast" as it were, or end the ceremony. With a sheerly physical processes an individual will certainly have a sensation of being somewhat different from the people around him/her. Spiritual communities re-integrate all together after the holy cleanse, thus have a group of peers to connect with as adjustments to regular life take place. Without question the people of a spiritual community will grow deeper bonds with each other through subsequent years.

As a specifically physical process, many secular people do not cleanse unless it becomes imperative. Those interested preventive medicine proceed with physical cleansing at regular intervals. Variations include one major cleanse in the spring, several shorter processes each season, one-day fasts into each week for a period, or the removal of specific substances for a few seasons to allow the organs to cleanse naturally. A well-known adage of the natural medicine world states "the body exhibits symptoms of illnesses developed four months earlier." Thus anyone tracking his/her physical fluctuations does well to consider what poisons or remedies were present in the previous season.

Spiritual cleansing is strongly supported in traditional religious communities. Anyone who was raised in such community will have witnessed or participated in these cleanses in childhood, and will certainly feel compelled to find his/her personal commitment to the ceremony as an adult. On one level these deep spiritual traditions serve to prevent habits injurious to physical health. However, for anyone who was not raised in these customs, the first enactment of orthodox Lent may have profoundly difficult results. Thus anyone wishing to begin this sort of cleanse does well to consider the experiences he/she was raised in and gauge the level of intensity accordingly.

Seek Support
As illustrated above, all cleansing for physical or spiritual health involves some education. Anyone who wishes to start one or both processes is wise to seek the support of people who have a history with that process. There are countless resources on physical cleansing available both online and at natural food stores, and many doors open for a person seeking to engage on a spiritual path. My first suggestion is for a person to connect with resources and communities that have a sense of familiarity, common purpose or similar background. Secondly, once the commitment to cleanse has been made, see it through to the end. Attend to all the steps involved. Even if it is a bumpy ride, a person's first cleanse is quite possibly the most important act in improving his/her health.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ways of experiencing Love

As a post-Valentine’s Day offering I would like to share an interesting tidbit about love picked up in my studies of the human being. Most of us through history have come to the awareness of Love as a major component, if not the purpose, for our lives on Earth. From the seat of Western Civilization, ancient Greece, I found three conceptual delineations of the word “love” as it occurred to our philosophical ancestors.

Glittery, beautiful Eros...
The one we evoke most often at Valentine’s Day is eros, romantic, physical love. Eros is attraction oriented and appeals to lovers who do not wish to sully the moment with logic. Think Romeo and Juliet, Kermit and Ms. Piggy, and love-at-first-sight. This is magnetic and kinesthetic love. Couples that cannot keep their hands off each other are excellent examples of erotic love.

Though many of us believe we are looking for eros and all the pleasure it brings, more often the love in our lives comes in the form of philia, friendly love. This was a conceptual delineation made by Aristotle to denote “brotherly” love and loyalty toward friends. Our expression of philia is demonstrated through gestures of appreciation, community events and sharing common passions. I would hazard to guess that most people experience philia with co-workers and teammates.

Team spirit is the essence of philia.
Beyond the love of one’s neighbor is the higher love, agape. This is godly love, a spiritual connection that has the quality of universal, unconditional positive regard with the connotation of contentment. People who follow a spiritual leader express agape through offerings and acts on behalf of that person. This may be the special love between teachers and students, or parents and children. Many people connect with Nature as the object of agape.  In fact agape is an expression of the feeling people have with their pets.

Storge is a fourth word I found when looking up the above Greek words online. This means familial love, or affection. Storge also implies tolerance. Specifically in reference to a parent/child type of love, this is the human energetic that gets some children through puberty alive. Most often in literature storge is depicted as acceptance for a difficult family member. This is a very human sentiment that allows us to continue loving each other despite many flaws and mistakes.

Even if there is no eros in your life now, I hope that the above ideas support you in looking a little deeper into the magnitude of love in your everyday experience. Thanks to all of you who bring the more subtle expressions of agape, philia and storge into the world. I commend you on being an examples of gentle sincerity amid overt demonstrations of eros that are so popular in media today.