Allergies

Natural Healing for Skin Problems

Posted on March 3, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, detox, Healing, Health, Immune System, inflammation, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Magnifying Glass - Healthy LivingBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Usually at some point in our lives, we experience some type of skin malady, be it acne as a teen, eczema, dry scalp, psoriasis or rash.  The range of cause is diverse and can include exposure to external irritants (toxins/chemicals often found in soaps, lotions, and shampoos), infestation (ringworm), fungal, nervous system (shingles), allergies and even stress.  Many of these external skin conditions are actually representations of an internal disharmony.

The standard medical approach is to treat the inflammation with an anti-inflammatory, but that doesn’t always treat the cause of it.  Traditional Chinese medicine views it a different way.  For example, eczema is seen as an imbalance of body’s energy which allows external pathogenic factors to attack causing itch, inflammation, as well as dry and red skin. Chinese medicine treats eczema not by suppressing the immune response but rather correcting the imbalances that are causing the eczema. By correcting or removing these imbalances your body is able to heal on its own.

Acupuncture has been used quite successfully for skin conditions.  When the body is out of balance, there is often illness. If the skin problem looks red, this means the patient has heat (inflammation) in the blood. The redder the skin, the more heat in the blood. This gets worse in hot weather. Most cases of eczema involve heat (inflammation) in the blood. If the skin feels dry, this means the condition involves blood deficiency.  If the skin blisters or oozes or has pustules, this means that the patient has a condition called “dampness” in Chinese medicine.  Once those representations have been identified, the patient is treated accordingly.  If the skin conditions are identified as “heat” then acupuncture points would be used to literally “cool off” or counteract the heat and restore the balance.  Different points are used to restore and normalize things.

 

One of the greatest effects an individual can have on their own body is by modification of their diet.  Omega oils and essential fatty acids like wild-caught fish and flaxseed oil are extremely beneficial and can reduce eczema and psoriasis symptoms.  Refined foods and sugars have been determined to increase inflammation and therefore should be avoided.  Those with food intolerances should avoid any potential allergens which could be gluten, dairy, shellfish or peanuts.  There are also several Chinese herbs that work well according to the ailment which include Zhi Yang, Rhubarb, and Fen Ci.  All in all, the best approach is holistic, which considers the whole body.  Food choices, sleep, exposure, and even emotional health all play a role in our health and well-being.

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Why You Should Cleanse & Detox

Posted on June 6, 2014. Filed under: Allergies, cleanse, Depression, detox, Healing, Health, Pain, Uncategorized, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Sad-woman-get-abdomen-pain-aft-35464244By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Cleansing & detoxing seem to be all the rage these days.  There are 2, 5, 7, 10, or even 21 day cleansing programs available that promise to clean out all those harmful toxins that are currently ravaging your body and wreaking havoc on your immune system.  But if you think about it, our body is seemingly bombarded on a daily basis from toxins we get from water, household cleaners, air pollution, chemicals, food additives and the list goes on and on.  Some of these things become neurotoxins in our systems and impair proper nerve function, cause tremors, lack of sleep, inability to focus, unexplained weight gain, etc… Or they can become hormone disruptors, interfering with testosterone or estrogen.  What these neurotoxins & hormone disruptors do is block or disrupt normal metabolism.  They build up within your system and the effect can be cumulative.

What happens if you’re toxic?

The two organs most affected are usually the kidneys and the liver.  The liver is the metabolic powerplant, but a lot of these toxins get stored in the fat as well.  When you go on a diet to lose weight and detox yourself, some of these toxins can still be released into your system and be metabolized or even remetabolized in the body.  If they get into the liver, metabolic pathways may not function optimally.

These symptoms can be very broad and vague with headaches, muscle pain, body odors, or fatigue. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly the issue, but you know you just don’t feel right.  In my own practice, I’ve seen many people vigorously & diligently clean up their diet, use a detox regimen along with drinking lots of water, allowed a little bit of time (patience being a key ingredient in this process), go through almost miraculous changes.  They feel a whole lot better and many have been able to minimize the medications they’re on and in some cases even come off of them.

 

How do I benefit from doing this?

 

Detoxification  is a lot about supporting organ function while minimizing exposure.  When you support the kidneys and liver and give them a rest from exposure to toxins or even regular food,  the theory is that your body will work to get rid of the garbage in your system and allow itself to recover and heal.  The real benefit is that while going through your “cleansing & detox” process, the herbs, clean “green” type drinks, and ample supply of water you drink help create the bridge over to living a better lifestyle afterwards.  Cravings for caffeine, sugar, and salty foods become greatly reduced, energy increases, and even your attitude towards exercise and staying healthy becomes predominately positive!

Be sure to do your “due diligence” in research when you start a cleanse/detox.  There is no magic drink or pill.  You’ve got to combine the program with the right type of nutrition for optimal success.

 

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Spring Cleaning & Reducing Allergens in the Home

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, Health | Tags: , , , , , , |

~By Dr. Greg Steiner

Happy with a Clean House!

Happy with a Clean House!

Once a year, people prepare themselves for the annual ritual of “Spring Cleaning”. It’s a time to shake off the cold in which we’ve hibernated for so long and get ready for beautiful warm & sunny days. It’s also a time when allergies, for many, come into season. Runny noses, itchy eyes, and constant sneezing signify the body’s response to immune system malfunctions. When a particular substance is recognized in the body, say pollen or ragweed, the immune system sees it as an “invader” hence reacting by causing a runny nose or perhaps watery eyes in order to eliminate that substance. But once the process has set in, the body becomes unusually sensitive to other perceived “invaders”. This could mean that a small reaction from pollen in the air could be intensified if dust or pet dander were also inhaled. If you remove some of the possible allergens, the allergic response can be lessened.
This is the perfect opportunity to take your Spring Cleaning of your home to the next level.

Try:
• Changing your air filters – pleated types are best in catching the most allergens in the air
• Vacuum like crazy – mattress, furniture, curtains, carpet (wearing a surgical mask while doing so can cut down on dust inhalation)
• Bathing your pets – dander & hair can worsen allergy symptoms
• Wash sheets weekly –use hot water over 140 degrees, it kills off dust mites
• Dust the house – try to use a cloth that will pick up dust and not just move it into the air
• Check for mild & mildew – make sure to look in damp dark areas like cabinets or beneath sinks because mold can release spores into the air exacerbating allergy symptoms

Once you’ve cleaned your home, try not to leave the windows open for airborne allergens can easily enter. All these things help clear up your surrounding “external” environment. It’s a good start in the right direction for sure, but often-times you need to examine your “internal” environment as well. The food you eat can make a big difference in how your body deals with allergens. Improving nutrition can really help. It also helps to know if your body is allergic to a specific food substance, like wheat or milk. Sugar is a big culprit in weakening the immune system and setting the body up for allergic responses.

Medications can help reduce allergy symptoms, but they won’t cure them. It’s not what they’re for. They’re like a small fire extinguisher in a huge forest fire, they can put out a little bit of the fire temporarily, but the big fire keeps burning. Acupuncture is a natural way to alleviate the symptoms from allergies (without the side effects like drowsiness or immune system suppression) quickly as well but finding a long term result takes a bit more time and patience. Once the body can be “reprogrammed”, the immune system can become stronger and better fight the battle.

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Time to Change Your Personal Care Products

Posted on March 4, 2014. Filed under: Allergies, Children, Health, Hormone | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Be sure to read ingredient labels

Be sure to read ingredient labels

~ By Dr. Greg Steiner

Have you ever looked at the label of ingredients on your personal care products?  Most of the words are near impossible to pronounce, and definitely don’t seem like things we’d find in nature.  With all the products we put on our body (i.e. shampoo, body wash, lotions, perfumes, etc…) it’s no wonder so many individuals have developed allergic reactions and skin issues.  If you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t seem to be affected by the chemicals found in personal care products, you can still be headed towards trouble in the future.  While small amounts of these products don’t usually overwhelm our system, an ongoing accumulation of toxins can make the body less able to withstand them.  While there are hundreds of different types of chemicals found in our personal care products, here are just a few you should try to avoid:

  • Sodium Lauryl and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)—Foaming agents which make products lather. Usually found in toothpaste, shampoo, body washes and soaps. These noxious substances are skin irritants.  Be wary of those labels that say “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (derived from coconut oil)” as they are trying to make it look like it’s natural but the way they make coconut oil into SLS is through a highly chemical and toxin producing process.
  • Parabens—Used to preserve products for longer shelf life.  Can also be disruptive to hormones
  • Artificial Fragrances aka Phthalates (like benzene and toluene)—Used to make things smell good, but have been found to be hormonal disruptors. Instead look for products that use essential oils for natural fragrance.
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)—Common preservative in skin care products. It’s been attributed to thyroid problems and has shown to cause reproductive disorders.
  • Propylene Glycol–Found in many industrial and commercial products, including antifreeze, liquid laundry detergent solvents & paint as well as personal care products. The side effects of this common product include irritation and sensitivity to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes,
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)—Often used in oven cleaner products as a powerful de-greaser. Found in many baby wipes, skin cleansers, lotions, shaving cream, lip balm, contact solution and laxatives.  PEG has been linked to kidney damage, leukemia, breast, uterine, and brain cancer.

As far as ingredients go, more is not better.  Try to choose natural products with a shorter list of ingredients.  Many of the ingredients found in bottles are just cheap fillers and not really important to the quality or effectiveness of the item.  Also, try to select products that can provide more than one use.  Shampoo can also work as a body wash, some facial moisturizers can also be used on the cuticles, etc…Or be bold and make your own personal care products.  There are dozens of recipes on the internet using coconut or olive oil, castile soap, vinegar, and essential oils which provide a great natural substitute and save money too!

 

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Can Eating Local Honey Reduce Seasonal Allergies?

Posted on March 7, 2013. Filed under: Allergies, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Health Experts have long touted the wonders of using honey for ailments.  It’s been slathered on wounds to prevent infection and hasten healing and even been used as a natural cure for diarrhea and upset stomachs.  It’s even recommended today as a way to help the body overcome seasonal allergies and hay fever.

Allopathic Medicine utilizes a process called “Immunotherapy”  wherein an allergen is injected into the body to help an individual become desensitized to it by building up an immunity toward it. This is the premise for the “Allergy Shot”. The same process can be done in a natural, painless, and healthy way by eating local honey.

Local honey is produced by bees usually within several miles of where the person eating the honey lives. There’s no rule of thumb on what the exact proximity needs to be, but proponents suggest the closer, the better. The reason you want “local honey” is that this increases the chances that the varieties of plants and flowering grasses that give the allergy sufferer trouble are the same kinds the bees are including in the honey they produce. By consuming this honey, you are creating a natural form of “immunotherapy”. Because the honey includes the pollen spores which so many allergy sufferers are affected by, introducing them into the body in small amounts by eating honey can help make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance of an immune system response like the release of histamine. Since the concentration of pollen spores is low, ideally, the production of anti-bodies shouldn’t trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.

In addition to finding “local honey”, be sure to purchase “raw” honey. This means that it has not been pasteurized, or heated to more than 120 degrees. While pasteurization can help keep the honey from fermenting, it kills the active pollen spores that your body needs to help build up its immunity.

Recommended amounts are about 1-2 teaspoons per day. Try to start taking it at least a month before allergy season, or take it throughout the year. Adding the honey to a cup of green tea is a great way to incorporate it into the diet.

Scientific research has not determined honey to be the cure for seasonal allergies, namely hay fever, but many people claim that their intake of local honey has had a direct correlation to the reduction in their allergy symptoms.

Note: Be sure not to serve honey to infants under 2 years of age.

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What Makes a Child Hyper?

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Allergies, Healing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

What Makes a Child Hyper?

If you were to speak frankly with your neighbors you would find that it seems every other kid is on some type of medication for an attention disorder. Sometimes it almost seems as though the odd child is the one not on medication! Let’s look at fact, fantasy and alternatives.

Teachers, parents and doctors argue over just what constitutes an attention disorder. The very first issue concerns a conflict over what is natural behavior for a child versus what is expected of a child in various circumstances. The obvious first answer is children move, and are made to move a lot! Children have an urge to communicate, but with a limited vocabulary they will often “show” what’s on their minds. In addition, movement is what strengthens their bodies, creates manual dexterity, and actually “programs” their developing nervous systems. By the way, it also keeps them lean.

The big “However….” is that movement and the desire to move at an inappropriate time can be a real pain in the backside, in school, church and restaurants. While it’s a matter of parental principle on how much squirming to permit, it’s important to realize that squirming is the way of children, and trying to stop it is like fighting the tide itself. It can be done, but usually at an energetic cost to the parent!

They also talk a lot, and usually out of turn as they learn the rules of social convention. The energy most kids possess is astounding – including the energy of healing – but until they learn directed behavior and frustration tolerance most of that energy shoots out in every direction. Don’t we parents know this all too well!

One Time in India…

The point I’m trying to make is that there are fundamental contradictions between the conflicting demands of nature and social expectation. Once while travelling in a village in southern India I strongly recall watching a group of children playing and exploring. They would run to one end of the village and look at animals and plants, then run to the other edge and play a game, then sit for a time and talk, then run and explore something else. It wasn’t as chaotic as it looked, as the mothers throughout the village each loosely looked after the group of children as they went about their daily tasks.

Though informal, there was more than just pointless play going on. The children were learning to move, to interact as a group, and about their surroundings. There were very few cars, by the way…..

I note that much of parental stress is based on urban life and “don’t.” Don’t shout, or you’ll annoy the neighbors. Don’t cross the street or you’ll get squished. Don’t walk home alone. Don’t go outside in the rain. Etc.! While such prohibitions are what make our kids mature in our culture, it’s a great struggle that goes against their natural grain, I think.

Often the result is a kinetic but bored child glued to the television, computer or video game. Of course there are downsides to this as well, as we all know! There is evidence that too much fast-change television actually “hardwires” the growing brain to accept this hyper stimulation as the normal state of affairs. It’s therefore not much of a jump to understand that the sedate and focused life of school becomes difficult for a brain so-wired to endure.

Attention disorders are a big topic, and we’ll look more at them in future articles. To set the stage though, let’s say for now that the mind and body are joined at the hip – what affects the one invariably affects the other, for better or worse.

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What Else Makes a Child Hyper?

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, Chiropractic, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Sugar hides in all shapes & forms of food

~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

Just this last weekend I attended a course in clinical nutrition that explored the links between food and mental and emotional function. Nutritional status is linked to moods good or bad, attention focused or scattered, aggression, and of course overall energy.

In our clinics (both Allen and Dallas) we have treated children and adults with attention disorders, as well as for nutritionally-linked affective problems, e.g. depression. One of the first avenues of inquiry we look at is allergy or hypersensitivity, and while a person may be only too well aware of seasonal pollen allergies, he or she – or the parent – usually overlooks underlying food intolerance, and there may be several or even many.

Each of us has by virtue of our constitution has levels of tolerance for many factors; some people tolerate pain better than others, some fatigue, some people do better in heat, and others in cold. In a similar manner, some people have a touchier digestive system and others a very touchy respiratory system. Here is where environment really comes into play.

Perhaps you have a child or spouse with a pollen allergy, and every September you can’t sleep because your family member sniffles and coughs the night away. Poor you! However, what no one can figure out is why the presumed allergy is worse on some days than others, regardless of the pollen count. What we have found is that the poor person keeping you awake may have an underlying food intolerance that only compounds the problem. Let’s use sugar, for example. Did you know that if you take in refined sugar your immune system can be weakened within a short time of ingesting it? So, the next logical question is to ask about the condition of the immune system of a person who consumes sugar every day. Thought it took years for me to realize the answer, many years ago while in college I got quite a few colds, and finally I realized that there was a pattern to the illness: if I had a diet of cookies, Doritos and soda, I’d be sick a week later. Often though only a low-grade sore throat and some sniffles, after I started paying attention I saw a pattern that was all-too obvious.

Let’s put some pieces together.

Many allergy sufferers seem to go between allergy, illness, and allergy and back to illness. In many cases the problem is simple: they do have an allergy that causes them misery, but they also have a diet that weakens their immune system, which means they are often carrying a low-grade infection for weeks and months, on top of the allergy. In other words, their systems are just overwhelmed, and they often suffer for months or even years.

How difficult is the solution? Let me tell it this way. I will always recall the very fit and very tired mom of a two-year old who hadn’t slept for both years of her young life due to an endless supply of green mucus running out her young nose. I will also recall the conversation with the mom, which went something like this:

“Mom, do you feed your daughter much sugar, because this is what it looks like is happening.”

“Oh no, doctor! We try to eat healthy in my house.”

“Well, I said, “what does she eat for breakfast?”

Mom replied: “She has a Pop Tart or two, then some orange juice, and …..”

I stopped her right there, because Mom needed some real education as to what sugar is actually in.

Mom did stop the Pop Tarts, and within 3 visits using some additional care, the young child’s nose cleared up, and to this date Mom and daughter are sleeping…..and the daughter can concentrate much better.

Allergies, illness and sugar often run together, and with kids, if blood sugar is either too high or low, they will become hyper or even aggressive and mean. There are ways to test for excess sugar and food intolerances, but a simple plan that can help both attention, (not to mention dental bills) is to eliminate or greatly reduce sugars intake, though if a food comes in a box, bag or can, it probably has sugars in it. Not an easy task, but it certainly can lead to better health in the family, as well as better performance in school.

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Allergy Misery Arrives Early and What to Do About It

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Allergies |

Acupuncture can help with allergies

Even as this is written in winter, already sensitive patients are suffering from early-season allergies. This winter has seen an increase in flu and upper respiratory infections to top it off, and what’s set in place is a situation in which oscillation occurs: sick, allergic, sick, allergic – the result is runny-nosed misery!

How Allergies Work

Let’s look at how an allergy actually works; it’s not all that complicated to understand the essentials. In really basic (but accurate) terms, you are exposed to a substance your body interacts with as though it were an enemy. If the substance really is an “enemy” such as an invading bacteria – good. Your immune system is working. However, if your body classifies ordinarily harmless substances (e.g. peanuts) as an enemy, your body immediately goes on alert, mobilizes troops, and you experience a runny nose and itching.

There’s more. Sometimes your body can so hate a substance that it chooses the nuclear option; we have all heard the stories about how someone gets bitten by a fire ant, finds he or she can’t breath, and has to be rushed to ER. Last year I had the opportunity to help a patient recover from this very dramatic and dangerous reaction. She came to the clinic after getting out of the hospital feeling very pained and drained, with substantial swelling on her ankle where the bites occurred. Acupuncture, herbs and some energy medicine techniques helped her get back to work quickly, but the sheer magnitude of her reaction to what is ordinarily a minor nuisance was truly remarkable.

Histamines and Runny Noses

Let’s look a little deeper; everyone has heard of histamines, so we’ll look at the role they play in making you miserable!  When you come into contact with an allergy producing substance by touching, breathing, or swallowing it cells in your immune system sense it but don’t recognize it as “yourself.” The alarm goes out as alert chemicals are released! These cells collectively are called immunoglobulins, and are so named by function and shape: a cellular glob that functions in your immune system. There are many of these, and they are abbreviated by letters which you may have seen in articles on allergy medications. For example, immunoglobulin E is abbreviated IgE and IgE is involved in the process that ultimately releases histamines, which in turn acts in concert with other substances to start your nose running and skin itching.

So, the logical conclusion is that a runny nose is a bad thing, right? Wrong! A runny nose is messy and inconvenient, but what is a body to do when it contacts toxic junk? What a runny nose is all about is your bodies attempt to flush out the stuff that’s causing the reaction in the first place. You body secretes excess mucus in the attempt to wash the invader out before penetrating more deeply into the body. While in cases of strong allergic reactions antihistamines are useful in preventing the reaction getting worse, in cases of infection it’s actually best to skip the anti-histamine and let your body purge itself. Much better to let your nose (and your kids noses!) run and let your natural immunity do it’s work, if it’s socially acceptable to do so in your situation. Also, be sure to swallow as little infected mucus as possible; otherwise an intestinal upset is likely to occur.

Conventional treatment for allergies involves identification, medication and elimination when possible. Oriental treatment takes another approach, in which the body is “re-programmed” to reduce the over-reaction. Some patients live in allergic misery for many years, but there is really no need; relief is a definite possibility.

Next time: more on allergens, hypersensitivities, treatments and prevention.

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