Why is it so hard for some people to lose weight?
Sometimes, there is more to weight loss than simply cutting calories. For some, despite all their efforts (following a diet and exercising consistently) progress is fleeting and painfully slow. This is a familiar story for many and they know the problem isn’t a lack of willpower. There's often more going on than a matter of simply exercising more and eating less. In this three part article series we look at the underlying causes of the difficulty in weight loss that so many run into.
The problem can be an imbalance in one or more of the underlying systems of the body, making weight loss difficult if not impossible. The good news is that there are ways to remove these obstacles. Identifying these imbalances and resolving them should be the first step in your weight loss plan.
Obesity is all too common in our culture. While the availability of empty calories and our sedentary lifestyles are largely to blame, there is more going on here than just sloth and gluttony. For many there is a hidden problem in the body that is locking their metabolism in a fat storing mode. In the first part of this series we’ll cover three common obstacles getting in the way of successful weight loss. In a following article we’ll give you the basic steps for addressing each of these. Our third article will cover the steps for successful weight loss once you have these first three obstacles addressed. Following these steps will result in significant changes in most people seeking weight loss.
After pain, the second most common complaint we hear from our patients is that they have difficulty losing weight. While obviously exercise and proper diet are essential to weight loss, in some that won’t be enough to reach their weight loss goals. Without addressing the underlying imbalances, progress will be painfully slow and difficult. The three main obstacles that we see are:
1. Excessive burden of environmental toxins
2. Hormonal imbalance
3. Latent inflammation
Any one, or all of these, could be shackling you to your extra pounds and these three issues are surprising common in Americans. Let’s look closer at each.
Excessive burden of Toxins
We live in an environment that is increasingly laden with chemical pollutants. Many of these compounds have entered our environments within the past few decades. Unfortunately, despite all your efforts to minimize exposure, it is unlikely that anyone is able to truly avoid these chemicals. Studies have shown the presence of more than 200 chemical pollutants in the umbilical cord blood supplying newborn babies. Even in this most precious of places, at the deepest recesses in the body, and filtered by the placenta, these chemicals are still able to find their way. Just imagine what is running through your blood! These toxins burden the liver, interfere with hormone signaling and trigger inflammation. All of these can indirectly cause weight gain by interfering with fundamental processes in the body. But, some of these compounds can also directly cause weight gain. Called "obesogens", these compounds include Bisphenyl A, polybrominated flame retardants, pthalates, many pesticides and even many medications, including the popular SSRIs, used to treat depression. These compounds directly alter your physiology, resulting in weight gain. They compounds bind to receptors in the body that regulate metabolism or appetite and directly cause increased weight gain and make weight loss more difficult.
Many of these compounds are fat soluble. Because they dissolve in fats, they become stored in fat tissue. This makes losing weight increasingly difficult. As soon as you make progress in weight loss you liberate more of these compounds into your blood stream, making future progress even more difficult. In order to make weight loss possible in the presence of these toxins, you need to support your body’s natural detoxification processes, so that as these toxins are liberated they are effectively flushed from the body, allowing your weight loss to continue unfettered.
Identifying if you have an excessive toxic burden can be done through a combination of blood work, reviewing your occupational history, and discussing your personal medical history. One blood test called GGT, or gamma glutamyl transpeptidase, measures the activity of an enzyme that becomes elevated when the requirement for the body’s natural anti-oxidant, glutathione, is increased. This increased demand can indicate that there is an increased toxin burden on the body, requiring targeted treatment and dietary interventions.
The HPA axis is a term used to describe the triad of endocrine glands: hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal. These three glands interact and influence each other and a great many other hormones and glands in the body. When dietary, emotional, lifestyle, and environmental factors cause a disruption in any of these glands there can be a cascading influence on the body. Weight gain is one of many possible symptoms when these hormones are out of balance. Improperly converted, produced, or binding thyroid hormone, for example, can result in difficulty losing weight. Impact on the hormone leptin can result in difficulty regulating appetite properly. Excessive, or deficient adrenal output of the hormone cortisol can result in elevated blood sugars, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Simultaneous fatigue and anxiety can also make weight lose much more difficult. If you experience certain symptoms including unexplained fatigue, a history of extreme or prolonged stress, anxiety, short temper, or difficulty regulating temperature these symptoms may indicate that a closer look at your hormones is warranted. Identifying if there is an underlying hormonal imbalance can often be done through simple saliva testing, and herbal, lifestyle, and dietary interventions are often sufficient to restore balance.
When most people hear the word inflammation, they think of something red, swollen and painful like a sprained joint or an infected cut. But inflammation doesn’t always have to be so obvious. Sometimes inflammation can be more like a smoldering fire hidden within the body, quietly eroding your health. This type of latent inflammation may be occurring anywhere in the body. Common locations include the digestive system, a dental abscess, or the blood vessels. This constant inflammation causes weight gain by driving up the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn drives up blood sugars. It also reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin, making your body store more energy as fat. The longer the inflammation is present the more damage is done to your metabolism. Identifying and treating the underlying inflammation is essential to losing weight and restoring a healthy metabolism.
How do you know if you have a smoldering fire hampering your weight loss efforts?
Often, current symptoms or clues in your health history can raise suspicion, which is further investigated by looking at some specific blood tests. The specific test will depend on the organ system that is suspected. Tests such as C reactive protein, homocysteine, adiponectin, and an essential fatty acid profile can all help to identify locations and causes of latent inflammation.
Identifying the systems in your body that are imbalanced is the first step in restoring a healthy metabolism.
Once you know how your metabolism is going wrong, that paves the way to determine your specific interventions. Even though the goal weight loss is the same, the interventions for you may be very different from someone else with a different set of metabolic challenges. This is one of the reasons that no weight loss program works for everyone. If you've tried many different approaches without seeing results, it is likely that there is something going on beneath the surface that needs to be addressed before weight loss can proceed. You may have a suspicion that one of the above issues applies to you, and fortunately, there are many interventions that you can do yourself that are both effective and safe to try at home. We'll cover strategies to resolve each of these issues in the next article.
Before I share why Chimmichuri sauce is brilliant and delicious, a bit of bad news for you…
Grilling meat generates not one, but two different classes of cancer causing compounds: Heterocyclic Amines and Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons.
Consumption of these compounds can lead to cancer by causing mutations to occur in genes. Indeed, one of the risk factors for colon cancer is frequent consumption of charred or grilled meats (1, 2, 3). And if that’s not enough, grilling meat also creates another unhealthy compound called an Advanced Glycation End product (AGE). AGEs accumulate in the body aging us prematurely and increasing the risk of diabetes, metabolic disease, kidney disease, heart disease, and Alzheimers disease. (4, 5, 6, 7)
But there’s good news…
The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take to mitigate this risk and improve your health when consuming these foods. I was struck, not for the first time, by the incredible wisdom of traditional cuisine last night when I realized how perfectly suited our chimmichuri sauce was in mitigating the health risks associated with grilled meat.
Finely mince the garlic and shallots and leave out for 10 minutes
A potent phyto-nutrient found in garlic, Allicin, is formed by an enzyme (also found in garlic) but can only be formed in the presence of air. And that enzyme is damaged by exposure to heat. Letting your garlic sit for several minutes prior to cooking increases the content of the active constituent responsible for a lot of the healing effects of garlic (8). Meanwhile, combining garlic and onions (or in this case shallots), as has been done for ages in culinary traditions around the world, creates a synergistic combination that mitigates the negative effects of consuming fatty foods. (9).
Mince the jalapeño finely
The compounds in jalapeños protect LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation. It’s the oxidized LDL particles that represent the most significant risk to our arteries because when they deposit in the layers of our blood vessels they attract an immune cell response that swells the plaques and makes them unstable. Smoked Jalapeños were found to be particularly effective in this regard. I’ll have to try that next time…(10)
Mince the parsley, cilantro, and oregano or pulse in a food processor.
All of these herbs are powerfully anti-microbial. They are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients with a variety of useful properties in the body. Cilantro has been found to be protective for the same type of cancer that the compounds formed by grilling meat, Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons and Heterocyclic Amines, increase the risk of (11). Meanwhile, parsley specifically reduces the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (12).
Combine all ingredients together and add the vinegar and olive oil to create a thick sauce. Season with salt and add the lime juice. Adjust the flavor and consistency by adding more of any of the above.
Acidic preparations, when applied to meat prior to grilling also reduce the formation of Advanced Glycation End products. No wonder marinades are a common practice in culinary traditions around the world (13).
Use the chimmichuri both to coat meat prior to cooking and as a condiment eaten with your grilled meat. It offers a fresh, bright counterpoint to the filling umami of grilled meat. The flavors work so well, no wonder it’s good for you.
So, in short, try to respect the specific ingredient combinations and preparation techniques long held in our world’s culinary traditions. They are consistently reflective of a deep wisdom about optimizing health through food. That they arrived at these nuanced, protective, and synergistic pairings prior to our relatively recent understandings about the biological processes underlying their interactions with our health, offers a convincing bit of evidence to the premise that there are other ways to discover and know truth besides the reductionist view of modern western science.
By the way…
We offer nutritional consultations for our patients where we combine traditional culinary wisdom with modern research to create food plans that are science based, authentic, tasty and sustainable. Set up a free consultation to see if we can be of assistance to you.
Autoimmune conditions such as MS, Celiac Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and others are increasing rapidly in the developed world. Recent studies show the incidence of autoimmunity is increasing by 5-10% per year. The immunology community blames this increase on various factors that come with living in an industrialized society including higher stress, exposure to certain chemicals, and poor sleep.
Autoimmune processes require three things:
1. A genetic predisposition. In most cases you must have the underlying genes specifically substitutions in the genes that relate to immune function. Most of these substitutions are found on the HLA (human lymphocyte Antigen) gene and the MHC (major histocompatibility complex). These are genes that determine the shape of the proteins used in the interaction of the immune cells with our own tissue and with invading pathogens. A little like a key can sometimes work on more than one lock, these substitutions allow for the immune system to mistakenly bind to and attack self tissue.
2. A trigger. Many people with the genetic predisposition may never go on to develop an autoimmune condition. It's a complex process and while we don't understand everything, we do know that most autoimmune conditions require a trigger. In celiac patients this trigger comes in the form of gluten. In some cases, the trigger might be a pathogen such as Yersinia or Klebselia that tricks the immune system through a process called Molecular Mimicry into attacking itself (more on this in the video below).
3. But even with a trigger and the genetic predisposition, autoimmunity is not a sure thing. You have a lot more influence over this process than you think. The immune system works actively to prevent this by maintaining a process called self-tolerance. When things go awry and the immune system loses this protection, damage begins to accumulate. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms begin to show the process has been building for quite some time. The immune system can be pushed out of balance by the presence of certain toxins such as aluminum, mercury, cadmium, lead, and organic pollutants such as pesticides and plasticizers. The immune system also requires the presence of specific nutrients. A lack of selenium makes Hashimoto's more likely to occur. A lack of silica leads to accumulation of aluminum and more more immune system activation. Sufficient fiber intake is necessary for proper detoxification of potentially damaging chemicals and so on. Lifestyle also plays a bigger part than is often realized. It is very common for a patient to have the initial onset of their autoimmune condition following a period of severe emotional stress. Attention to sleep, diet, stress regulation, and community all play a vital part in prevention and treatment of auto-immune conditions.
Another often overlooked area of focus in auto-immunity is the health of the health of the digestive system and more specifically the integrity of the intestinal membrane. The overwhelming majority of the immune tissue is located at the border of the intestines. When the lining, the membrane at the intestinal border, is compromised larger proteins can leak into the blood stream and lymphatic circulation causing an upregulation in immune activity. This leads in turn to more exposure to proteins capable of driving molecular mimicry, and as a result an increased risk of developing or exacerbating auto-immune conditions. The immune system as a whole is also more active, causing the differentiation of new immune cells into highly reactive cells called Th17 cells rather than the peace-keeper T regulatory cells that support self-tolerance.
The important take home is that if you're worried about auto-immune conditions then you have more power over the situation than you think. Just because it's in your family doesn't mean you have to get it, and if you have an autoimmune condition there are probably quite a few actionable steps left to reduce your symptoms and improve your long term quality of life.
For a comprehensive deep dive into this material, watch our video below.
It's been a ride, now what?Covid: where we go from here.
Covid has redefined how we live, how we interact, and how we raise our kids. But at the same time, even though the way we connected has changed, the content of those interactions has stayed the same. The fundamentals about what our society, our culture, and our community means has remained and in the process of conveying that meaning through new channels, we have solidified the core truths about our oneness.
We thrive on love. The more connections we make, the more people we hold in our hearts, the richer our lives are. We’ve felt the missing connections and the skipped visits. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, our absence from one another’s physical space has reminded us of the value of closeness.
We talk with so much more than our voices. The mass masking of society has revealed the importance of those random smiles as we’re out and about. We’ve all been dialing in our eye smiles and experiencing the vast amounts of important information our expressions pass out into the world. So many people realize now that they have worked silently to soothe the world around them by simply smiling at it. They look forward to being able to share that again.
What Can Chinese Medicine tell us about Our Divided Culture?We are divided. In Chinese Medicine we talk a great deal about the interaction of opposing forces. The belief that everything, at its core, can be viewed as an interaction of yin and yang is the central truth that allows the complexity and nuance of Chinese Medicine to exist. With an elegance and a subtly that can comprehend and address symptoms from the psyche to the psoas, Chinese Medicine starts at this simple truth. At its most basic, yang represents fire/heat/dynamic movement while yin represents cold/ice/stability/stillness. Our natural world, our bodies and even our society consists of myriad interactions, exchanges and transformations between these two forces. The Taoist philosophers that laid the foundations for this medicine observed these two forces at work in all things and established basic rules for how they interact. Certain general observations can be made. For example, when a yang or yin nature pushes to an extreme, it turns into its opposite. When yang burns too bright and hot it turns cold (for example when a fire exhausts all the available fuel). Yin can consume yang and vice versa. In a medical sense this is represented by someone driven by stress and anxiety to movement and action (yang) that depletes their hormone synthesis capacity (yin) leading to the tell tale symptoms of HPA axis disruption (insomnia, fatigue, irritability, systemic symptoms of disfunction). Yin/yang is one way to talk about the self regulating systems that are present in all biological systems and in all complex metasystems. The interaction and depletion of yin and yang cause changes in a complex system that ultimately results in a correction of the imbalance. The sticking point though is that yin and yang need to interact for this self-correction to occur. When yin and yang no longer interact and work to self correct that is known as “separation of yin and yang”. It means the dynamic principles of life are no longer active. It means death.
Considering our society and the division that exists within us now, that’s the concern. As division and separation increases, the capacity for the self-correcting interplay of opposing ideas and forces gets less traction. Dialogue and the exchange of ideas is what allows for the interplay of yin and yang. The interaction doesn’t have to be about the issues that are dividing us. Simple exchange is a place to start. It’s up to all of us to keep the conversations going.
What’s New at Cotati Community Acupuncture?
We’re comfortably established in our new location right next to La Plaza park in downtown Cotati. There have been countless woodworking projects to make it our own and more still to come. It’s a beautiful, peaceful and healing space with dedicated space for community acupuncture, private treatments, massage, consultations, and our custom herbal pharmacy.
50% off Vitamin D Testing.Studies have been fairly consistent that Vitamin D status is an important factor in Covid response. Studies show the severity of a covid infection is influenced by the patients’ covid status:
This may be related to the function vitamin D performs as a messaging hormone regulating immune response. In one study vitamin D was found to regulate the rampant inflammation and damage the immune system inflicts on the lung tissue in a covid infection:
In another study vitamin D eliminated the risk of death from covid and nearly eliminated the chances of being sent to the ICU:
Like all nutrients in the body, more isn’t always better. In patients with sufficient levels of vitamin D or even above the target levels, supplementation with vitamin D is NOT ADVISED. In order to identify your vitamin D status we are offering half off vitamin D testing from today through February 14th. Stop in or call to set yourself up.
8099 La Plaza Suite H Cotati, CA 94931
When something is off about your health, what does your doctor do? Most doctors (thankfully not all), will prescribe a medication based on the symptoms you are having: lisinipril for your blood pressure, a statin for your cholesterol, maxalt to prevent your monthly migraines, metformin for your elevating blood sugars, ambien for your sleep and, just for good measure, some prozac for your depression and fatigue. That’s an awful lot, but surprisingly, it’s not uncommon.
This system of medicine doesn’t view you as a person with a complex physiology. You’re a list of symptoms. It isn’t healthcare because that would be focussed on improving your health. This is management of your illness. It should be called sick-care.
Functional Medicine approaches it differently. It doesn’t look to treat your symptoms. It looks for an underlying common root that connects your symptoms. This takes careful investigation. Your practitioner needs to untie the knots that have been formed from poor diet, genetics, emotions, exposure to toxins, and other factors. We may order additional blood tests beyond what your doctor orders so we can identify not just what’s wrong, but why. The myriad symptoms can usually be traced back to a few basic root causes.
A situation like that described above can occur when poor diet and lack of exercise cause sugars to accumulate in the body. The biological systems within our bodies are interrelated and delicate. Everything’s connected. When one system is damaged that spreads dysfunction into other systems. The rising sugars damage the machinery of energy production. Cholesterol and triglycerides also increase as the body looks for places to store all the extra energy. As enzymatic function is impacted by excessive blood sugars, inflammation starts increasing too. Nutritional deficiencies from poor diet drive inflammation even higher. As your blood sugars are driven up and down throughout the day by sugar rich snacks, your stress hormones are pushed up and down too. You start to experience alternating cranky periods followed by energy crashes. The rest of the hormones get thrown off by this roller coaster of stress hormones. As a result you feel exhausted all day, but can’t sleep at night. Menstrual cycles can be affected, causing menstrual migraines. Even though these are all different symptoms, you can see that they all can be traced back to a few issues in the fundamental functioning of your body.
Your Functional Medicine practitioner will get you eating foods that will supply steady energy through the day so your metabolism can stabilize. A relaxation program and an adrenal support supplement can help to bring your wild stress hormone swings back to normal. Adding a high quality multi-vitamin will replace the nutrients that have been lost through poor diet. Lifestyle support such as relaxation techniques and refining your sleep habits would round out a successful functional medicine program for a patient like this.
All of your body’s systems are interrelated. If you don’t address these root causes of illness and disease then you are just covering up symptoms while the underlying health continues to erode.
Of all the health conditions that we routinely see, hypertension is one of the most common and thankfully one of the easiest to improve. Once you know where to look, it responds extremely quickly to simple dietary changes.
(I've summarized this information in a video below as well, in case you'd prefer to soak up the info in that format)
It’s an unfortunate thing about western medicine that the treatment of a symptom often results in a worsening of the overall health of the patient. While blood pressure medications reduce high blood pressure, many also result in negative impacts on other body systems and the whole person suffers.
Addressing hypertension through diet change however, reduces the severity of that single symptom while elevating the overall health of the patient. Most of our patients who follow this protocol for hypertension end up being able to come off of their blood pressure medication within between 2 and 6 months.
You should never stop a prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. For many medications there are establish dosing reductions that need to take place. Whenever my patients come off of their medications, it is always in coordination with their doctor’s office.
Here’s one patient’s experience:
L.M. had blood pressure that was routinely above 180 systolic. She was a former nurse so she knew how important it was to get her blood pressure under control and she diligently did everything her doctors told her. Unfortunately, her doctor wasn’t able to control it. He referred her to a Cardiologist. Her Cardiologist tried multiple medications with no change. He tried combining medications but still her blood pressure wasn’t changing. With all the usual mainstream options exhausted, she came to see me at the suggestion of her son who was also a patient. We made this simple intervention in her diet and within weeks her blood pressure was under control and remains there today. Her Cardiologist was in disbelief and actually angry with how quickly her hypertension resolved. I suppose that’s understandable after all his effort. It’s simple nutrition but surprisingly very few western doctors, Cardiologists included, receive comprehensive training in nutrition.
The good news is that this protocol can easily and safely be done for most patients. (As with most dietary interventions please consult your health care provider prior to starting. This is especially true if you suffer from a kidney or heart condition.)
Write down everything you eat and drink in a normal day.
Calculate the amount of potassium you get in that standard day. (Click the button below to download a form to help you find and track those numbers)
Download Form Here
Here’s another resource to find more potassium contents for different foods: https://nutritiondata.self.com).
Okay, let’s take a moment and talk about the science.
Sodium and potassium operate as a ratio. If sodium is too high relative to potassium, you’ll get hypertension, if your potassium is too low relative to sodium, you’ll also get hypertension. What’s important is the ratio between the two. When patients track their potassium at the start of this protocol I typically see numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 mg per day. That’s a big problem. The recommended daily allowance is between 3,500mg and 4,700mg. Not only are most people deficient, they are getting less than half of what is recommended! Since we don’t get nearly enough potassium to start with, in order to get the ratio of sodium to potassium to the point where it will reduce blood pressure we’d need to eat so little sodium that it would actually cause new problems.
A National Academies of Science meta-analysis found exactly this. The sodium intake recommended for years by the American Medical Association was not only not helping hypertension, but was actually making people worse by causing increased triglycerides and increased inflammation.)
The obvious solution is to increase the potassium intake in order to normalize that sodium/potassium ratio (ideally, restoring it closer to what we are intended to get, what we’ve been getting in our diets going back millennia.) Once you increase your potassium your blood pressure responds rapidly. Studies have repeatedly shown this to be an effective strategy.
(I wrote about this subject at length in 2017 click here to read the entire article.
Okay, time for step three, but first, a crucial note:
Do not take potassium supplements!
There are two reasons for this, but most importantly, taking potassium in a supplement makes it possible, and even easy, to take too much. That can and will result in dangerous, possibly fatal heart arrhythmias for many people. Get your potassium only from food unless specifically recommended by your doctor!
The other reason is a little more complicated. Think about it this way: If you are that deficient in potassium, do you think there are other nutrients that you are also deficient in? Americans are notoriously deficient in magnesium, zinc, fiber and vitamin C just to name a few. When you get your potassium from whole foods, you will be increasing your intake those other nutrients as well. A lot of them (like magnesium and naturally occurring Nitric Oxide precursors) will also help to lower your blood pressure and protect your cardiovascular system.
Okay, ready for the fun part?
Now, using the form, shoot for between 3,500 and 4,700 mg per day. You’ll notice that a lot of the foods that are highest in potassium are fruits and vegetables. What’s helped a lot of patients navigate this is to buy as many single serving fruits and vegetables as will fit into the vegetable drawer of their fridge, think carrots, oranges, bananas, celery, pears, apples, bell peppers, plums, and peaches. Whenever you’re hungry for a snack just grab another piece of fruit. Shoot for having 4 servings of fruits and vegetables as snacks each day then have a serving with each meal. That will bring you to 7 servings for the day. Not bad, and on average you’ll be up to between 2,500-3,500mg of potassium already. Add in the starches with your meals - (especially good sources are quinoa and potatoes) and you’ll be right around your target.
Follow this protocol exactly as described and within between 2-5 days you should already notice a change and within 2-4 weeks you should be able to easily maintain your blood pressure in the normal range.
Enjoy watching your blood pressure drop, and enjoy the feeling of being in charge of your own health!
Happy Holidays! I hope this email finds you happy and healthy and snuggling in with your loved ones for the holidays.
I wanted to send you a quick note to invite you to our very first QiGong class. We'll be teaching a set of exercises to clear stagnation in the organs, a set of strengthening exercises to build the internal organs and a system of standing meditation to connect to the respective energies of the earth and the heavens. This teaching comes from the lineage through the renowned Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, by way of my immediate teacher, Dr. Francesca Ferrari.
I've found QiGong to be a powerful tool both for life and health, whether maintaining my center in times of stress or responding to the subtle cues in my body, QiGong is usually my first step for self care. With the tools you'll gain in these classes you'll be more able to manage your own health and safeguard your wellness in times of stress or illness.
Our first class will be at 1:00pm at Kotate Park on Wednesday the 9th of January. Classes will repeat every Wednesday thereafter, weather permitting. Please respond to this email or call our office if you're interested so we can add you to a notification list in case classes need to be cancelled on account of inclement weather.
Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!
Our New Website
As you can see, we've have updated our website. You'll see a link at the top of the first page to take you to the scheduling portal. Let us know if you run into any issues!
Taking some time for the Holidays
The office will be closed from Monday Christmas Eve through Tuesday New Years day to give our clinicians and staff some much deserved down time with their families. Appointments will be available on an on call basis however for any emergencies that arise. Although our time with our families is important, so too is our service to you, the community. Don't hesitate to call if you urgently need care. Kieran will have all calls forwarded and will be screening messages over the break.
Open Late on Tuesdays!
Katie has graciously opened her Tuesday evening appointments up later to accommodate patients with later work schedules. Her last available appointment time is 6:40pm.
Best Wishes to Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn Mitchell (our gifted acupuncturist who has been seeing patients on Wednesday mornings) has decided to take a break from working to focus on her studies (she's currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree) and spend more quality time with her family. We were all blessed by her gentle and upbeat spirit as well as her capable hands and mind. She was a pleasure to have here at the clinic and she will be missed by the staff and patients alike. Send her a line to wish her well! Her last day seeing patients will be December 19th.
As the leaves begin falling and the energy of the year turns from outward to inward, a sort of coalescing takes place. The excitement and activity of the year slows. The achievements and milestones begin to fade. It's as if the intense growth of the spring and the busy climax of the summer are slowly distilling down into a few pearls of importance. It isn't just a convenient tradition of our culture to give thanks, it's called upon by the very energy of the season. Indeed, this is the energy of the fall, or the metal element as Chinese Medicine recognizes it. The metal element is characterized by slowness, a sort of hallowed, sacred energy. It is the still, gray, sharp energy of a fall morning. The way the light has changed urges you to still quietness. The sharp coolness of the air brings your awareness to your breath. This energy is a part of all things. All processes manifest through stages of which the metal element is a part.
Here's a brief overview of the 5 element cycle:
All processes follow this path, whether a life lived, a project at work, or the turning of teh seasons.
The Water Element: It begins in winter with a dormant seed, a tiny pocket of potential from cycles past. This is the deep, dark, and hidden water element.
The Wood Element: From there it grows with a sudden intense reaching and explosion upward. It is full of movement, potential, dreaming, reaching and yearning. This is the vibrant expansion of spring and the wood element.
The Fire Element: Next the cycle reaches a climax in the middle of intense, hot summer. The height of activity and fulfillment, the fire element.
The Earth Element: The blaze of the fire element fades to warm embers. This is the earth element. A moment of savoring. The taste of a ripe peach, the satisfaction of looking back over a tended garden or a project brought to completion. This is the energy of late summer.
The Metal Element: This element represents a movement downward and inward. As the energy reduces in strength it can carry less with it and only a few gems remain. A good example is the moment before bed when your mind is clear from the details of the day. In that last moment before you slip off to sleep a few key events or moments stick in your mind. These gems then become the seeds for the awakening of the energy in the wood element energy of the coming spring. These are the things that we give thanks for in the fall. This is the energetic nature of Thanksgiving.
My thanks are for the most important things in my life: my family, my patients and the journey of growth and understanding that both my family and patients guide me on every day.
Yours in health,
Kieran Jones L.Ac.
Owner / Acupuncturist - Cotati Community Acupuncture
Don't Miss Out!
We announced this back in our last newsletter, but I wanted to send you a reminder in case you missed our last email. Our clinicians will be in house offering free treatments to anybody with back pain tomorrow (Saturday the 10th) from 1-5:30. After your treatment we'll be asking you some questions to improve our understanding of which acupuncture styles are most effective for back pain. So in addition to feeling better, you'll be improving the treatments for others as well!
We recommend calling to snag a spot on the schedule, but we'll accept walk-ins as well. We look forward to seeing you!
-Kieran Jones L.Ac. MTCM
Katie is now taking patients Thursdays and Tuesdays
The talented Katie Keville has added a second day to her schedule at Cotati Community Acupuncture. She'll now be available for community and private appointments from 10-2 on Thursdays in addition to her full day on Tuesday. If you haven't had a chance to work with Katie yet, I'd highly recommend seeing her!
Free Back Pain Clinic!
Our patients know the powerful impact acupuncture can have on pain. What they may not know is that there are dozens of different styles and approaches that your acupuncturist may draw from as they deliver the treatment. As clinicians we are constantly honing our skills, and always striving to contribute back to the profession. In that light we are conducting an informal study in our office comparing two acupuncture styles for the treatment of low back pain. On November the 10th between 1:00 and 5:30 we will be providing acupuncture treatments free of charge to anyone complaining of low back pain. Please RSVP for a slot in the schedule as we'll only be able to accommodate walk-ins on a limited basis. Call us at 707-242-6812 to save a spot.
A Traditional Massage Technique with Profound Effects
It’s cold season. Sniffles and sneezes are sneaking up behind you in the line at the bank. Your kids are swapping germs with their friends at school. And, with work stress and busy family schedules, your immune system may not be operating at full strength.
There is a technique, used by acupuncturists, that can give the immune system a quick boost to more quickly recover from common colds. This technique is called Gua Sha (刮痧). It isn’t acupuncture, but it’s a technique that acupuncturists have been using for thousands of years to resolve illness and safeguard health. This technique can be used to resolve joint and muscle pain, break up scar tissue, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation in the body.
“Gua Sha” literally translates to "scrapping fever" which refers to the release of heat that occurs as it is done. This technique uses a smooth, blunt edge to scrap over the surface of the skin. It’s not painful, but might be a little sore after (like a good massage.) It is a remarkably versatile technique. It's been used with good effect on shoulder, knee, neck, and spine injuries, tendonitis or the wrist, forearm and elbow, and...common cold.
When you get sick the immune cells in your throat and sinuses drain down the lymph vessels running along the back of the neck and your upper back. This, normally free flowing pathway becomes congested as immune cells bind to bacterial antigens and they all clump together to form a stagnating sludge in your lymph vessels. This congestion slows down the movement of the lymph fluid through these vessels, which you in turn feel as soreness and tightness in the upper back. Unfortunately, when the flow of the lymph slows down, the rest of the immune system doesn’t get to join in the fight. Without other immune cells gaining access to those bound bacteria fragments, the rest of the immune cells can't be recruited to manufacture antibodies and fight the cold. As a result, the immune response is both delayed and blunted.
Gua sha, by gently resolving the circulation through this tissue, speeds the recovery from the common cold and reduces the tension and discomfort in the upper back. As we move deeper into cold season, keep us in mind, right next to your chicken soup and elderberry syrup. It’s an easy technique to receive and learn, and a treatment that, like acupuncture, supports your body in healing itself.
It's our great pleasure to be of service to you. Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you soon!
-Kieran Jones L.Ac. MTCM Clinic Director/Owner
Kieran Jones MTCM L.Ac.
I'm Kieran, clinician and owner of Cotati Community Acupuncture. I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner for the past 10 years. I have a deep curiosity in health, biology, culture, medicine, history, and a healthy obsession with the pursuit of the perfect state of health.