Archive | February 2015

Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Treating Menopause Holistic Health

Words: Bill Reddy, LAc, DiplAc. Source: www.althingshealing.com

You’re sitting comfortably in a restaurant waiting for your appetizers to arrive when it happens.

Holistic HealingIt feels as if someone abruptly set the thermostat 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Beads of sweat begin to form on your forehead and neck and you wonder if your face is getting beet red. Or maybe you’re at home watching TV and when a little boy hugs his dog in a commercial you suddenly feel like crying.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone, although the symptoms are different for each woman. The most common are hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, forgetfulness, mood swings, vaginal dryness or itching and weight gain. Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55, but can vary widely based on a number of variables.

A human female is born with 1-2 million follicles that will eventually develop into ova (eggs). By the time she reaches puberty and begins her menstrual cycle she has less than a ½ million remaining. Every month close to 1,000 follicles perish, with one or more developing into a viable egg for fertilization. When there are few remaining follicles, menstruation ceases and menopause begins. Some sources define menopause as the natural cessation of a woman’s period for one year.

MDs will often recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) but this trend has decreased in recent years following studies suggesting that HRT may increase the risk for gallbladder disease, stroke, and cancers of the liver, uterus, and breast. 1,2

Natural Strategies to Ease Symptoms

A comprehensive and holistic approach can address the acute symptoms with with fast-acting herbs while also looking at lifestyle and dietary changes for long-term benefit. Modify your diet to avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods, and emphasize a variety of whole foods such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans and healthy oils such as flaxseed, coconut, and fish oil. Eliminate sodas from your diet. The phosphoric acid in soda creates an acidic environment in your body. This, in turn, may cause calcium to leach from your bones, which can contribute to osteopenia or osteoporosis. Plant lignans are incredibly important against cognitive decline, cancer and hypertension (high blood pressure) and are found in whole grains, flaxseed and vegetables. Don’t underestimate the power of whole foods – they can change your life. Additionally, make sure to stay hydrated and to get 40-60 minutes of exercise that you enjoy each day, for optimal cardiovascular and bone health. These dietary and lifestyle additions will go a long way to improve your general sense of well-being and reduce symptoms.

Chinese dietary strategies

Holistic TherapyIn traditional Chinese medical theory, the symptoms associated with menopause fall under the category of a Yin deficiency. Foods that build or “tonify” the Yin would include mung bean and mung bean sprouts, black sesame seeds, barley, kidney beans, fermented tofu, millet, black beans, seaweed, spirulina, string beans, and wheat germ.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is a common herb that can be effective in relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. A recent study comparing the effectiveness of black cohosh extract to typical hormone therapy (transdermal estradiol) found that the two were equivalent in effectiveness in reducing hot flashes. In addition, the estrogenic effects of black cohosh have been demonstrated to have a positive impact on bone density without the risk of increasing the probability of estrogen receptor type cancers such as breast or uterine cancer. Begin with 20mg of the dried root powder twice per day, ramping up to 40 mg twice a day if no improvement in symptoms is noted within a week or two at this dosage. There are no known drug interactions that I’m aware of, and side effects of abdominal discomfort, dizziness, headaches and nausea are only reported at high doses (several thousand milligrams per day). It’s contraindicated for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Licorice, root, depression and osteoporosis

Licorice root is one of the more popular herbs in the Chinese herbal pharmacopeia. The deglycyrrhized version, known as zhi gan cao, is found in most modern formulas and does not elevate blood pressure. It has been shown to reduce depression and slow the progression of osteoporosis. A study published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience evaluated compounds of the Isoflavene and isoflavan groups (contained in licorice root) and found that they had an effect on serotonin reuptake and may be beneficial for mild to moderate depression in pre- and post-menopausal women. An added benefit of licorice is that it helps support digestive health and can heal stomach ulcers.

Dong Quai

Angelica sinensis, or dong quai is another example of a commonly used Chinese herb that manages gynecological conditions. A book entitled “Pharmacology and Application of Chinese Materia Medica” referred to a Chinese study involving dong quai among other botanicals in a specific formula that demonstrated a reduction in hot flashes and other menopausal complaints by 70%. Some sources refer to dong quai as a phytoestrogen (plant based estrogen like compound) but it actually is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it has a balancing effect on the female hormonal system. The only reported side effect is that it may cause fair skinned people to be sensitive to sunlight, and may interact with blood thinners such as Warfarin or Heparin. Before taking any Chinese herbs you should consult a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) who is properly trained in traditional Chinese medicine to prescribe individualized herbal formulas.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been well studied for its positive effect on menopausal symptoms. There are over 18,000 journal articles on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed database pertaining to acupuncture, and over 150 specific to acupuncture’s effect on menopausal symptoms. A review of clinical research regarding acupuncture and menopausal symptoms concluded that “The recent systematic reviews on acupuncture in menopausal symptoms suggest that acupuncture is an effective and valuable option for women suffering from menopause.” My personal experience supports this statement. A recent Iranian study stated: “Application of the combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture proved as effective as hormone therapy in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms, and it achieved better outcomes than herbal medicine alone.” I’m impressed with the fact that western (allopathic) medicine is trying so hard to study and understand the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture, but millennia of brilliant Chinese thought led to an ingenious holistic medical system that works. Instead of drugs, which interfere with the natural processes of the human body, it works WITH your body to accelerate healing, balance the endocrine system (responsible for hormones) and create homeostasis (balance and harmony).

Menopause is a natural part of life for women, but that doesn’t mean they must suffer through it. Nature offers a number of options to ease the transition, and working with an acupuncturist in addition to your doctor will help optimize your health and reduce the incidence of a variety of cancers, osteoporosis, and stroke.

About the Author

AuthorBill Reddy is a nationally board-certified licensed acupuncturist who studied under graduates and professors from Beijing and Shanghai medical schools. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium. He is the former President of the Acupuncture Society of Virginia and professor at the Virginia University of Oriental Medicine. He is the author of over 60 publications, lecturer, an avid practitioner of Qi Gong and Tai Chi, and practices at the Pinecrest Wellness Center in Annandale, Virginia.

Therapy Packages

The White Light Therapy packages are carried out through the capable hands of different forms of healing therapists and techniques.

South AfricaNo matter where you are in life – whether it be suffering from an ailment or a drug addiction, we will design a package to suit your needs.

What sets us apart is that you can retreat to the beautiful Garden Route, South Africa and get in touch with your true nature and soul purpose. These packages are not designed to change who you are, or your belief systems. You’ll only find peace and the beauty that is within, which you can once again awaken.

The packages are designed to set you on an upward spiral of positivity and in turn heal your body.

What we are offering are comprehensive packages, which involve 12 therapists, each one uniquely specializing in helping you to better understand your ailment/disorder/disease.

The duration of the packages are over 1 month, 2 months and 3 months

Package 1

Duration: 3 months

Price: (ZAR) R65 000

incl: accommodation

Not incl: living costs and transport

Package 2

Duration: 2 months

Price: (ZAR) R45 000

incl: accommodation

Not incl: living costs and transport

Package 3

Duration: 1 month

Price: (ZAR) R25 000

incl: accommodation

not incl: living costs and transport

contact us to set up your fee consultation.

The Ancient art of Aromatherapy

The Ancient art of Aromatherapy 

The word aroma means fragrance and therapy is a treatment designed to cure through healing touch.

Massage and blendsAromatherapy is the total treatment of the face and body via the skin, with the use of essential oils. These are applied in the therapeutic manner of a lymphatic massage.

The aim of Aromatherapy is to restore any imbalance of the body. This method of healing is an ancient art of healing and soothing, which utilizes oils extracted from plants, flowers, shrubs, barks and leaves.

Essential oils, which are frequently referred to as the soul of the plant or as it’s hormones are usually extracted by distillation. All the essential oils have antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties to a greater or lesser degree.

The oils act slowly – they do not only kill the bacteria or virus, but stimulate the body’s immune system to generate a greater resistance to further attack. When the essential oils are permitted to evaporate into the air, they release an energy as fragrance and this energy is absorbed by the Olfactory nerves via the nose.

Blending these essential oils has a required effect, such as calming, stimulating or detoxifying when applied in a specific manner. The oils can be applied in several ways – you can add drops to your pillow or a vaporizer. Or simply add drops to your bath or have it massaged into the skin. The drops can also be taken internally under the guidance and instruction of a qualified aromatherapist.

Massage plays a very important role and is enjoyable and relaxing. To receive a massage is one of the best ways to relieve stress and tension. Aromatherapy massage is more a lymphatic massage than a muscle massage. And although it incorporates the deep thumb pressure of Shiatsu and Neuromuscular massage,  you’ll also experience the soothing effleurage massage of Swedish massage, which will leave you feeling harmonious.

One of the most important tasks of an aromatherapist is to stimulate and improve the function of the Lymphatic system. Few people are are familiar with the lymph and how vital it is to energy and health. Lymph is a colourless fluid that flows through the body, along with the blood. Made up of water and waste products, it is absorbed into a map of tiny capillaries that cover the body. These capillaries act like tiny conduits, running into larger vessels, which, in turn, empty into still larger lymphatic glands, or nodes. These filter the lymph as it passes through, purifying it and producing anti-bodies and anti-toxins.

Unlike blood which is pumped by the heart, lymph has no natural pump. Our own activity keeps it moving from one part of the body to another. People who suffer from tension and exhaustion and eat a diet high in refined foods, meat and other concentrated proteins may develop blocked lymph nodes, this can cause lymph tissues, like the tonsils to become inflamed and swell, making you feel exhausted and sick. Aromatherapy massage is especially designed to liberate lymph blockages from occurring in the first place.

Contact us to book an appointment or to have a blend made up specifically for your ailment.

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

by Johann Hari – Huffington Post

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

The REAL cause of addiction

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about the head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off ever more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the people he met — can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at www.chasingthescream.com.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com