I recently gave a talk to a group of seniors at the Memory Cafe chapter where my dad and stepmom are members. In speaking to that group (and in working with several of my coaching patients), I realized the need for more information specifically on how sleep changes as we age. I hope this entry … Continue reading Sleep for Seniors
Today's PRs Wow, it's been around 10 months since I've written. What can I say, it's been a long pandemic. Somewhere in there I took up powerlifting as a way to be more body positive. I told myself maybe when I had something big to celebrate, it could be my next blog. Well kids, today … Continue reading Powerlifting as Therapy
My day job is now in Palliative Care. I support the clinical teams who have borne an outsized burden in the pandemic. When I took this role, many people asked me what palliative care is. Others already thought they had it understood- it was support of the dying. There's a lot more to the profession, … Continue reading Palliative Care and Hospice Medicine are Complementary but Distinct
"Only a minority (usually less than 20%) of a population at risk is prepared to take action at any given time. Thus, action-oriented advice mis-serves individuals in the early stages." -Prochaska and DeClementi Whether you're looking to quit smoking, eat better, or make some other lifestyle change, it is important to note that it's not … Continue reading Stages of Change for Health and Wellness
Four common herbs in the formula As vaccine distribution continues to be a mess, and as new variants of the coronavirus continue to circulate, it looks like some time before life returns to any semblance of normal. Given my auto-immune issues and asthma, my acupuncturist prescribed me an herbal formula called Jade Windscreen, which is … Continue reading Immunity Hack: Deconstructing Jade Windscreen
Before learning about Chinese Medicine, I hated winter. I hate (present tense) the cold and probably have a variant of seasonal affective disorder. I used to just grit my teeth and wait out warmer days. The paradoxically good thing about the season is that the shortest day comes at the start of the season. So … Continue reading Winter is the Season of the Water Element
It's the day after the election, and we only know one thing with complete certainty at this point: half the country disagrees with us (whichever side you are on), and this other half seems utterly unknowable. Probably like many people, for the past several days, I found I really didn't feel like doing much of … Continue reading Post-Electoral Return to the Body
In Chinese Medicine, fall is associated with the metal element, as well as grief and the lungs. These may seem a strange combination of concepts, but they all relate. Think of the lungs, they take in fresh air to be transformed into something essential and life sustaining, then also expel compounds which would be toxic … Continue reading Fall is the Season of Letting Go
There's been a lot of research in the past decade or so on the health benefits of periodic fasting. The science shows it's about much more than simple weight loss. It can help with cellular rejuvenation, prevention of diabetes, reduction of systemic inflammation, and much more. I've always been a fad dieter, so when my … Continue reading Fasting with a Buddy
Red River Valley in late August Since starting this regular blog earlier in the year, we've been writing about each of the 5 elements in Chinese Medicine as they correspond to the seasons. We learned about spring, the season of wood, and summer, the season of fire. But in Chinese theory, there are 5 total … Continue reading Late Summer is the Season of the Earth Element
There's a movement called sober curious which is for people who maybe aren't clinically alcoholics, but would like to break out of just the default of a glass or two of wine after work. Before that, there was dry January. And of course, there are 12 step programs and those who have maybe always abstained … Continue reading Mocktails! Tonics for Liver Health and More
Immune molecules can induce sleep in dogs and humans! Before coronavirus took over our world, infectious diseases had been on a decades-long decline in terms of cause of death and impact in the public health sphere. Indeed, present pandemic aside, the leading cause of death for the past 100 years or so have generally been … Continue reading Sleep, the Immune System, and Chronic Inflammation
This is a collaboration with my personal acupuncturist and guest author Amber Sharma, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Disclaimer: these therapies are not FDA approved. We are presenting opinion from an integrative health perspective and none of the content below should be construed as a substitute for medical advice or therapies which your physician … Continue reading Essential Oils and Aromatherapy- More than Just a Spa Treat!
As a sleep coach, I have been increasingly building insights from Chinese Medicine into my practice. Before we delve too much into sleep, it is important to note that in Chinese Medicine, there are 5 elements which correspond to many things, including personality. You can take a quiz here which should give you a fairly … Continue reading Sleep from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Scientist have known for years that poor sleep can link to obesity and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. And conversely, hormones can play a role in causing poor sleep even in normal weight patients, particularly in pregnant and menopausal women. This blog will explore the complex relationships between sleep and various hormones, and their role … Continue reading Hormones Link Sleep, Metabolism, and Sexual Health
Irony materializes as a surprisingly heavy beach load Well, the blogging has definitely slowed down this summer. I wrote at the start of the season how I wasn't sure what summer would look like with a pandemic confounding it all. Sure, there are not trips home and fireworks in the same way, but I've found … Continue reading Attachment as the Cause of all Suffering (a Comeuppance)
In his 2016 Olympics appearance, Michael Phelps introduced much of the world to an ancient practice of cupping. Many people were puzzled by the strange, bruise-like marks visible on his skin. These days, cupping has become somewhat mainstream and is now found in many sports medicine, physical therapy, and massage practice. But it's roots go … Continue reading Cupping for Pain, Sports & Sleep
The prevalence of anxiety in the US population was high (around 20%) before COVID. It has spiraled since then (current estimates are around 35%), with no signs of abating anytime soon. And if all that weren't enough, as I write this, Minneapolis is literally on fire (part of a broader national emergency needing urgent attention … Continue reading Anxiety and Insomnia While the World Burns
Joy. What a strange, borderline inappropriate topic to wax philosophical about during a pandemic. But the world still spins on its axis. Literally. And that axial tilt brings in the changing on the seasons without regard to public health, economic collapse, or personal suffering. In Chinese medicine, there are 5 seasons corresponding to 5 elements … Continue reading Summer is Meant to be the Season of Joy. Can it Still Be?
Close up with adhesive ear seeds on the spleen and shen men points As Chinese medicine practices become more mainstream, both Good Morning America and the New York Times have highlighted growing interest in using a treatment known as ear seeds for health. I remember when a friend showed up to a hangout with what … Continue reading De-Stress with Ear Seeds
A month or so ago, I wrote about learning I have allergies to dairy and eggs. As a celiac, this was adding insult to injury. I tried a few weeks of avoiding those foods and after a time, I thought - hell, I'm barely eating any meat anyway these days, maybe I should try going … Continue reading Taking a Stab at Veganism
You may have heard about how hospital are experimenting with putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on their stomach, in some cases even while intubated. This is quite a novel idea for most medical practitioners in the West. As a rule, patients are generally on their backs (supine) or side (lateral). But our physicians have been … Continue reading Prone Breathing: It’s not just for COVID!
In Chinese Medical theory, there are peak times for activities of the various organs. This concept is useful because when we are out of balance with disease or other issues, sometimes we can find clues based on the time of the symptoms. The above graphic shows us not only when each organ (as conceived in … Continue reading The Chinese Organ Clock
OMG, the grey hairs! The self-cut bangs! Today, we cover a rather obscure topic. Most people are familiar with acupuncture and herbs as key components of Chinese medicine. But there's another commonly used treatment which hasn't gone as mainstream in the West - moxibustion. This involves burning a plant called mugwort near various parts of … Continue reading Moxibustion: Feel the Burn!
Sleep and mental health are closely related. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) which categorizes mental disorders contains countless references to sleep as a symptom. Various mental disorders can involve both insomnia and hypersomnia (a tendency to sleep too much). There are also references to nightmares and disturbed dreams. On the other side, long-term sleep … Continue reading Sleep and Mental Health
I was brought up in a loving household, and there was always room to express affection and give a hug. But we rarely spoke verbally about how we felt during conflict. We are famous for writing letters in times of familial tension because no one in seemed capable of speaking plainly. I suppose writing one's … Continue reading The Cost of Not Speaking Up: A Meditation on the Throat Chakra
Karma's a b. I used to roll my eyes hearing about food allergies in my foolish youth. Then a few years ago, I got a celiac diagnosis. Then last week, a blood test indicated major reactions to dairy, eggs and almonds (which was basically my whole diet since I already had major restrictions). Now, I … Continue reading Adventures in Food Allergies and Autoimmune Disease
In the US, a poll just came out showing nearly half of Americans are already reporting mental health impacts from Coronavirus, with around 20% reporting severe impacts. I was lucky (?) enough to have already had a year or so under my belt of living with anxiety, so I went into these COVID times pretty … Continue reading Front Row Seat to a Panic Attack
Here's a vocabulary word for the day: proprioception, which is a fancy way of describing the body's awareness of its own movements and position in space. What a random thing to talk about during a pandemic. Or not. This is a term used mostly by physical therapists. When people have a deficit in this proposed … Continue reading Bodies in Space: Normally and During a Pandemic
I put together a genre-defying "End Times" playlist on my Apple account. It's all over the place. Uptempo ballads, hip hop, metal, and touchy-feely semi-spiritual slow jams. It is heavily concentrated in the 90's (oldest kind of millennial here). Some songs are great for driving into the hospital each day and preparing to help in … Continue reading Music Therapy: An Annotated Playlist for our Times
We all know to wash our hands and maintain social distancing. These go without saying now. But how else can we bolster our immune system? How can we maintain our health whether we are healthcare workers rushing into the front lines of battle, or those stuck at home and suffering from isolation and likely facing … Continue reading Maintaining Your Immune System
This blog is written for healthcare workers specifically, though we are all likely to lose loved ones in the days ahead. Charcoal Drawing- Jess Schmidt I "graduated" from regular visits with my psychologist a few months ago, but decided I should check in this week, because I knew the days and weeks ahead may be … Continue reading Preparing to Grieve
Daily mental health insights when the world is (appropriately) losing its mind? Yaaaas please! Access to mental health resources in the US is severely limited. Not only is it hard to see a professional without sometimes months-long waits, it is not always covered by insurance. Few patients can afford out of pocket mental health costs, … Continue reading An Ode to the Holistic Psychologist
Caution: This posting is meant to share interesting science coming out related to COVID-19. It is not meant to suggest that you look to herbs or any other form of alternative medicine in lieu of recommended guidelines. Stay home and wash your hands! I mean, really. How can you write about anything else this week? … Continue reading Integrative Medicine and Coronavirus
Confession: Yoga just isn't my jam. I know it's life for a lot of people and it's clearly beneficial for health and well-being. I just don't follow directions well, and I'm not particularly spacial or graceful. Form is so important, and I feel inept and like I never can translate the pose of the instructor … Continue reading Qi Gong- Meditation in Motion
It's common knowledge that sleep is important for health and wellness, but why? We've known for decades that REM sleep helps the brain with learning and memorization of things. We've also known that REM's lesser-known sibling Non-REM (insanely creative, I know) is crucial for helping the body regulate itself and restoring tissue. But in recent … Continue reading Brain Cleansing – How Good Sleep Can Reduce the Risk of Dementia
Burnout contributed to my almost quitting my job about a year ago. I literally wrote my resignation and tried handing it in. Some wonderfully supportive humans pulled me off the edge, but it was a challenging year or so to get through. Now I'm for the most part on the other side of it, and … Continue reading Overcoming Burnout
It is now officially meteorological spring! In Chinese Medicine theory, there are five seasons corresponding to the five elements/phases. In this blog, we’ll be talking about each season in the context of this framework as each season approaches. First, a little bit about each of the elements, which feed into one another as part of … Continue reading Tap into the Energy of Spring!
When I was in sleep research over a decade ago, I remember reading some experimental protocols suggesting that one could help people get to sleep by cooling their brain. At first glance, it sounded crazy. But then I thought a bit more about it. We already know that the body uses temperature as a cue … Continue reading Chill Your Brain for Insomnia… Literally!
Why does it feel so good to walk barefoot on the beach or on grass? It’s more than just the tactile sensations on your feet. There are two other fairly magical things which can happen when you connect with the Earth. The soil hosts bacteria which have been found to improve your mood! There are … Continue reading Grounding with the Earth and Sea
If you are having trouble sleeping, sometimes improving your environment to make it more welcoming for sleep can be an important first step. In this blog, we’ll review some best practices, as well as some favorite products to help improve your sleep. The Basics: As a first step, you can inventory your bedroom for the … Continue reading Sleep Hygiene Roundup
We at Integrative Alchemists are students and practitioners of integrative medicine, but what does that mean? There are a lot of terms out there that can cause confusion about approaches beyond traditional (Western) medicine. Below are some basic definitions. Some of these approaches can overlap in places. Once we’ve defined them, we can talk about … Continue reading What is Integrative Medicine?
A year and a half ago I had a nuclear meltdown. Without going into the gory details, some PTSD from childhood that I thought had been put to bed came roaring back to life. I have a family history of very negative secondary effects from anti-depressants, so medication was never an option for me. Therefore, … Continue reading Somatic Therapy for Trauma Recovery
The pineal gland is small but mighty and the title of "master gland" is well deserved. This gland is capable of receiving environmental stimuli and converting it to action potential (Most, 2020). It literally can transform the light/dark into a totally different form of energy. Wisneski and Anderson explain that the pineal gland is the "root … Continue reading The Pineal Gland- Located at the Intersection of Science and Spirituality
Everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. Chronic insomnia is something which happens more regularly and interferes with daytime functioning in some way or another (the technical definition is having 3 nights or more per week of poor sleep for at least a month or more). Insomnia is more frequent in women, particularly those … Continue reading Insomnia Approaches
I spent much of my childhood in Boulder, Colorado surrounded by hippies. I think I had developed an internal rebellion against all the granola traditions which were everywhere. Hemp clothing. Crystals. Bob Marley. My mom even dated a member of the Osho cult, which you may have heard about in the documentary Wild Country. Yes … Continue reading My Reiki Journey- from skeptic to practitioner
Qi, pronounced like the “chee” in cheese, is the vital life force energy that animates all life. In the human body, it flows through channels, but cannot be seen or measured. Qi governs the flow of blood, the function of organs, and even our emotional states. In a normal state of health, qi flows smoothly … Continue reading What is Qi? A brief introduction…
Prescription for anxiety relief: I always thought meditation was something other kinds of people did. The calm types. I didn't think it was possible someone with likely ADHD and anxiety could ever sit still long enough to actually focus on anything (or nothing). About a year ago, I saw my doctor for spiraling out of … Continue reading Meditation for Neurotics
We just gave our first invited lecture/workshop on grief and burnout to a fabulous organization. Thank you to the Northern VA chapter of Jack and Jill for the invite! https://jackandjillinc.org/
Thanks for joining us! We are licensed Health Care professionals drawn to combining traditional healing arts with cutting-edge clinical technologies. We launched our dream in 2019 with just a vision to focus on the healing arts we've always been most passionate about. We look forward to helping you on your wellness journey! Good company in … Continue reading The Journey Begins