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The Real Scoop on a Cup of Joe
March 15, 2011

Although coffee has become a central part of our culture with it becoming the norm to pay $5 or more for a cup, this medicinal food substance does not come without risk and could possibly be one of the most damaging substances consumed on a daily basis. This article will look at some of the benefits of coffee and highlight the negative side effects that can come from it’s consumption. Personally, I do not use this substance or recommend its consumption. For those that just “can’t” give it up, I would suggest using coffee on a special occasion- something you enjoy on the weekends vs. bowing down to the coffee god every morning before work. It will improve your health in more ways than one.   

Lets look at some of the benefits of coffee & caffeine:
  • Caffeine absorbs readily into the bloodstream and only stays in the body around 3 hours. The good news is the alkaloid does not accumulate in the body.
  • Caffeine can be an effective, short-term energy booster.
  • Caffeine has shown evidence for stimulates serotonin in the brain increasing the capacity for intellectual pursuits and alertness by stimulating the adrenals to secrete adrenaline.
  • Caffeine promotes weight control by enhancing the body’s metabolism converting body fat into energy.
  • Caffeine, taken with anxtioxidants, can offer protection against free radical damage.

     Now, on to the negative side effects of coffee & caffeine:
    • Caffeine is an addictive substance and difficult to quit without sides effects of withdrawal such as headaches.
    • Caffeine can combine with stomach acid to form a potent toxin called caffeine hydrochloride. The body tries to rid this through the liver which is why people often experience an increase in bowel activity after consuming coffee.
    • De-caffeinated coffee is no better than regular coffee. They both contain a large concentration of trichloroethylene, a potent carcinogen. Trichlorethylene is primarily used as a de-greasing agent in the metal industry and as a solvent in the dry cleaning industry.
    • Coffee is a significant source of toxin compounds in the American diet. Numerous pesticides are used on the plants which end of making it in to your cup. This would not be true with organically grown coffee
    • Coffee causes the depletion of b vitamins in the body, especially B-1 (thiamine)
    • Coffee contains a naturally occurring carcinogen called nitrosamine & Chlorogenic acid found in coffee is linked with toxic liver effects
    • Coffee is a central nervous system stimulant and when overused can cause adrenal exhaustion. This is one reason is takes more and more coffee to produce the same energizing effects as the adrenal glands become weakned
    • In addition to overstimulating the adrenals, coffee can overstimulate the heart causing palpitations and anxiety. If you experience anxiety, this is one substance you should eliminate from the diet.
    • Caffeine can cause blood sugar swings and exacerbate conditions like hypoglycemia
    • Never use reheated coffee! This dramatically increases the amount of a substance called caffenol into the system which is linked with high cholesterol.
    • Coffee contains over 208 acids and is linked to numerous health problems such as indigestion, arthritis, allergies, skin conditions, kidney stones, and gout.
    • Coffee depletes trace minerals from the system that are essential for good health. It causes calcium depletion leading to an increased risk in osteoprosis.
    • Consumption of coffee and caffeine is thought to negatively influence a woman’s ability to conceive
    • Caffeine & Pregnancy- caffeine can cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus’ brain, central nervous system, and circulation. High doses are linked to spontaneous abortion and low birth weight.
    • Coffee can contribute to prostate problems in men also causing irritation to the urethra
    • Caffeine can cause pelvic congestion through cellular overproduction of fibrous tissue and cysts fluids.
    • Breast and uterine fibroids almost immediately improve after removal of coffee from the diet.
    • Caffeine is a trigger for hot flashes in menopausal women, also provoking night time panic attacks.
    • Studies show people sleep both longer and more soundly with caffeine is cut from the diet
    • Caffeine is linked to cancer including those of the bladder and organs. This may be due to the acidic body state that caffeine produces.
    • Heavy coffee drinking (more than 4 cups a day) is directly implicated in heart disease. Studies show caffeine increase homoscysteine, and amino acid who’s high levels are linked to heart disease.
    • Excess caffeine can elevate blood pressure
    • Caffeine stimulates gastric secretions and can lead to nervous stomach and heartburn.

      Giving up caffeine and coffee is not easy, but there are many of health benefits in doing so. Substitutes for coffee can include caffeine free teas, roasted chicory, barley, and dandelion root. If you just can’t give it up altogether, at least use organic, fair trade grown coffee. This type of coffee provides a living wage to the workers and is more sustainable for the environment. Both the caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties (especially if it is Swiss-water process decaffeinated) are by far healthier due to the fact they do not contain the harmful chemicals found in commercial made coffees.      


      Are You Stressed? & What To Do If You Are

      We live in a stressful world. Everyday, life brings us stresses- from our job, family, even simply driving home from work can present stresses to our body and mind. Stress is mediated through our nervous system and largely impacts our adrenal glands. Day to day stresses can eventually weaken our systems and lead to a variety of illnesses. And regardless of if we have problems with our digestive, immune, or reproductive system, etc, if the nervous system isn't addressed and downregulated when it is hyperactive, it will be difficult to get resolution to our health conditions.

      Emotions that can often dominate our nervous systems are anger and fear. In Chinese Medicine, the emotion of anger is related to the Liver Network- which has a variety of functions and several that relate to the nervous system. Fear is associated with the Kidney Network, which can be related to adrenal function, the gland that is our primary responder to stress. According to T. O'brien in his article Learn the Patterns of Stress, October 14th, 1994, there 5 primary stress patterns. What can often be the most dangerous our those patterns are those that we are not even aware of. As is often said, the little things become the big things. Here are the patterns:

      1. Mild Sympathetic Response- life's little annoyances that keep our nervous system wound up.
      2. Severe Sympathetic Response- this would be events/stimuli that cause major mind and body stimulation (things like shock and trauma)
      3. Mild Parasympathetic Response- day to day activities that our monotonous and cause our bodies to shut down
      4. Severe Parasympathetic Response- depression, withdrawal, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
      5. Manic Response- a "bipolar" response where one is on an emotional roller coaster constantly up and down. This condition affects both ends of the Autonomic Nervous System (sympathetic & parasympathetic). It is recommended you seek professional help if you experience this magnitude of a stress response


      Identifying our stress can be the first steps in helping to resolve the damage it can do to our bodies, and hopefully help minimize the damage we can do to others emotionally by acting out our stresses. Anger and frustration, again, is one of the most dominant responses people face on a day to day basis. We want to be in control of almost every aspect of our life, and when we our not, frustration is often the result. According to K. Doner in an article entitled Heal Your Angry Heart in 1996, anger is said to have a wide range of attitudes and emotions including suspicion, frustration, impatience, aggression, hostility, and a lack of concern for others. Holding in anger is not the answer either and often leads to more problems for the individual and those around them. Stress and anger often end up being taken out on family members, which in turn, creates another whole group of stresses!

      To check your anger levels ask yourself the following questions:

      1. Are you generally mistrustful and cynical?
      2. Do you secretly think people whom you consider to be stupid or pathetic deserve whatever happens to them?
      3. Do you get very angry if someone disrupts your daily routine?
      4. Do you often accuse family members of misplacing things only to find that you have done it?
      5. If someone at work offers to help you with a task, do you assume they are doing it exclusively to help themselves?
      6. Do you honk your horn repeatedly when the care in front of you doesn't move quickly after the light turns green?


      If you answered yes to any of the above questions, finding ways to cope with your stress are essential to down regulate your nervous system. There are several things that can be done to accomplish this. They include:

      1. Chair Relaxation Exercise- this is easy to do but powerful in regulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Simply lay on the floor flat on your back. Elevate your legs by placing them in a chair or on the edge of your bed so that your body is almost in a "Z" shape. Lay on your back and simply breathe and relax for 15 minutes. It is often best to do this in a dark room where there is no noise or other distractions. If possible, do this twice per day. It can work wonders in relaxing the system and is an exercise almost anyone can do. And you DO have the time to do this!
      2. Communicate better with others your feelings to resolve conflict
      3. Become more aware of your stress and how it affects you and your body. Where you hold tension, how you digestion is after getting upset, do you get a headache from stress? Take appropriate steps such as regular acupuncture and massage to help manage these symptoms
      4. Take breaks and try to have a little fun each day. Remember, all work and no play is no fun!
      5. Be sure to get enough sleep. This varies from person to person but on average 7-8 hours should be the goal. Go to bed earlier if you have to so you don't catch the "second wave" of energy in the evening. The Liver detoxifies itself while sleeping, so if you are awake, key bodily processes like this are not occurring. There is no replacement for adequate sleep!
      6. Use meditation, guided imagery, or prayer to help you deal with your circumstances.
      7. Get adequate nutrition. This includes the consumption of fresh, whole, organic or locally grown foods. Avoid refined and packaged foods, sodas, energy drinks, coffee, sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates,etc. Those foods only provide a short term lift and eventually further weaken the system, especially pancreas and adrenal functions which are essential for proper energy. You would put cheap gas in your car, don't put subgrade fuel in your bodies either- it won't work optimally if you do!
      8. Look at change as a challenge, not a threat
      9. Work on your attitude and emotions. Bach Flower Remedies are a group of homeopathic preparations of different flowers. They can be helpful in treating stuck emotions and are relatively safe to use. Rescue Remedy is a combination of Bach Flowers that can be used in acute situations where there is major stress and anxiety. Keep some on hand for those moments. It is even been reported that Rescue Remedy can help save dying plants!
      10. Utilize deep abdominal breathing when stressed. Sometimes, 5 simple deep breaths can go along way in reducing stress. Also, focus on your breathing and make sure you are not breathing shallow. A deoxygenated system is one that is not running optimally.
      11. Join a Yoga or Qi Gong class. These two exercises can be very beneficial for the nervous and cardiovascular systems
      12. Exercise. Find something you like and do it every day. Even a simple 10-15 minute walk can make a difference. However, it is best to avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion. This is a sign you have overworked your heart. Remember, athletes have shorter life spans than the average person so be mindful to not to over do it
      13. Replace bothersome thoughts and agitation with constructive ones. This takes practice but the rewards are worth it
      14. Simplify your daily routine, regulate your time and tasks realistically. Prepare for whatever you can the night before so you don't have to run around the next morning getting stressed out trying to get your world in order
      15. Cultivate an inner sense of control- control the things you can and don't worry about those you can't. Yes, this is easier said than done, but again the benefits are worth it
      16. Seek out the help of a good counselor. We all need a little help in this life, don't be too proud to admit you can't do everything on your own. Becoming aware of that can take a big burden off of you in and of itself


      If you have any other questions about stress, how it affects you, and what can be done to moderate its effects, call me today at 352-281-8989 in Gainesville or send me an email at nflacupuncture@gmail.com.


      Staying Well In The Fall
      November 2, 2010

      Fall is a time for change- for nature and within our bodies. The rhythmic cycles of the macrocosm will effect each of our internal microcosms (our bodies). Fall is considered to be a time of "letting go" as we see the trees shed their leaves and let them and nuts fall to the ground. Fall is also a time of significant changes in weather. Often, this change comes after a drastically hot summer in which our bodies were making there best attempts to stay cool. With this coming change, our ability to protect ourselves often becomes compromised. We will often, especially in Florida, have very hot days even late into the fall and cool nights. These drastic temperature swings can often affect people who are vulnerable and often lead to season allergies syndromes and common colds & flues.

      The Chinese concept for colds and flues involves the pathological concept of what we call "Wind". Wind is a pathogenic factor that moves quickly and often affects the upper part of the body including the lungs and the sinuses. Wind will combine with other pathogenic factors such as heat or cold to form what the Chinese call Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold patterns. These pathogenic factors will often "attack" the body affecting the pores and either blocking them or keeping them too open. This will often lead to symptoms we associate with colds or allergies with symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, cough, aversion to cold temperature or air blowing on the person, body aches, headache, sore throat, fever and chills. Depending on the person's symptoms will often dictate which treatment is employed for the individual.

      In a "Wind-Cold" scenario, the person will predominately have chills over fever, clear or white nasal discharge, body aches, headache at the back of the head, sneezing, a scratchy throat, and possible cough. For this kind of presentation, warming herbs can help resolve the condition. Two simple culinary herbs for a Wind-Cold would include garlic and ginger. Ginger can simply be made into a tea by grating a piece of it about the size of your thumb and pouring boiling water over it and steeping it for 5 minutes. This tea can then be mixed with a little honey and lemon juice to make it further palatable and more medicinal. Garlic can be eaten raw, sucked on, or chopped and breathed in to clear the nasal passages and benefit the breathing. In addition to this, chicken soup with spices such as cayenne can help "heat up the body" and help and person sweat more quickly resolving the condition. Also, eating warm, cooked foods and drinking warm drinks will help thin the mucus and resolve the condition more quickly.

      In a "Wind-Heat" scenario, the some of the above recommendations are not appropriate. Eating chicken soup and staying hydrated is helping, but using hot, acrid substances such as spices, ginger, and garlic could potentially make the condition worse. Patient's with a "Wind-Heat Invasion" will usually have symptoms such as fever predominating over chills, cough, sore throat that may be red, congested or runny nose with yellow or yellow green nasal discharge, and there may be a mild headache. The person will feel hot, even if there temperature is normal. For a Wind-Heat condition, herb remedies can be obtained from your local health food store such as Echinacea and Goldenseal. These herbs have anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects and work to reduce the fever and clear the "heat" helping to more quickly resolve the condition. Using these herbs in a Wind-Cold condition are contraindicated. 

      Other tips to remain healthy this season include:

      • Getting adequate sleep to help keep the immune system strong
      • Wash your hands frequently with soap & water using a vigorous scrubbing motion (natural soaps with essential oils can be good and combating microbes and not leading to anti-biotic resistant strains as some commercial soaps can)
      • Take extra Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids (taking just Vitamin C alone or one that is not high in Bioflavanoids can actually create more inflammation in the body and keep you sick longer
      • Bath frequently when you are sick to wash often toxins and warm the body, especially in cases of a Wind-Cold
      • Use a little garlic in the diet every day. Garlic has been show to inhibit numerous microorganisms. Sure, you'll stink but so will being sick this fall! Use a little parsley with the garlic to help neutralize some of the odor
      • Get regular acupuncture treatments! Prevention is the key! Our bodies are constantly being bombarded by stress, and acupuncture is a great way to reduce that and aid in strengthening the immune system

      More complicated conditions may need specialized treatment. Call or schedule an appointment to get a full assessment of your condition so that treatment can be tailored to the condition. If you have questions or would like to find out more about how you can take care of yourself and stay well this fall, give us a call today at 352-281-8989. Be well and enjoy this wonderful time of year!