Friday, April 22, 2016

Is Marijuana a Harmless Natural Drug?

Is Marijuana a Harmless Natural Drug?

I post here an article by an M.D. who is also a genuine (he has truly studied, not just a one year fast course at USC) and very well respected Acupuncturist on the topic of Marijuana and Apathy. While Marijuana does not kill everyone's enthusiasm, it does have the effect of destroying motivation in some people.

My brother in law, who has an MBA from Yale and is a very successful business consultant and, what we would call a Liver type in Chinese Medicine and a Pitta dosha type in Ayurveda, is a weekend smoker. It helps him get the edge off of his hard driving controlling personality type. He is not the poster boy for the kid whose marijuana use damages his motivation.

I have observed that the kids at risk for this are one's who are either Vatta or Kapha dosha types: people who deal with risk, conflict, and stress not by dominating and triumphing, but by by running away and hiding or by freezing in the corner, Vatta or Kapha. If these folk are exposed to this drug when they have poor familial support systems, then it will often do a lot of damage.

This is not addressing the issue of Marijuana use for chronic pain or serious disease. That is another issue, and I am pretty sure in many of those cases it is a very good drug, especially when compared to the biomed drugs and all their deleterious side affects.

In any case Dr. Hammer's article is worth a read. 

 In my Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda practice I have definitely seen people with Kapha and Tamas elevation from habitual marijuana abuse, daily pot smokers who use the mind altering effect to deal with conflict by  fleeing or freezing in the flight-fight-freeze nervous system response that correlates to Vata-Pitta-Kapha dosha in Ayurvedic medicine, the equivalent to having 4 beers and sitting on the couch before the T.V. until you doze off. 

On the other hand I have seen people who use it on occasion to deal with blips in their Qi causing mild insomnia and tension headache. And then there are the type Liver types with excess Pitta that smoke pot to mellow out and stop fighting when they dont need to fight.. In the end whatever mind expansion/chage one get's from a drug, even a natural drug, whether its pot or Xiao Chai Hu Tang or  An Shen Wan, doesnt come close to what the chemicals in your own body/brain make when you have a regular Mindfulness meditation or Tai Qi or Yoga practice. 

If you deal with your stress with marijuana, there is no judgment, but you are, in the end not dealing, you are medicating. We can all benefit from observing the difference between stressors and the stress response and dealing with our maladaptive stress response with a drug vs. a healthy lifestyle.

Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Some Foods Not As Healthy As You Might Think

 Very good list of some of the so called "healthy food" frauds from Web MD. Web MD Slide Show of Foods that are not as "healthy" as you might think

In Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine both healthy food is food that is fresh and alive with prana. That means freshly grown and freshly cooked. So, for example, a microwaved frozen organic vegan meal is still, alas, a frozen microwaved meal that lacks any of the energy of freshly cooked food. Miso soup out of a packet is not miso soup, I am pretty positive it lacks the qualities fresh miso has. Its the miso equivalent of freeze dried coffee, isn't it. The list goes on.

Want a healthy diet? Take the time to cook. If you don't have the time to cook, then at least be honest with yourself and accept what you are sacrificing. Life is full of choices, and choosing food that was prepared in an industrial kitchen a week ago, or from the freezer, or  from restaurants that is so often very high in salt and fat is what it is.  Let's just be honest about it. There is also that self nurturing aspect of cooking as well.

Then there are the alleged health foods, like granola bars--full of sugar and fat; granola itself, full of sugar and fat and very undigestable since oats are a grain and grains need to be boiled in water,  frozen yogurt, full of sugar, the list goes on.

The other issue is miracle foods. A healthy diet is an overall diet, not a single miracle food. Health is a complex interplay of mind and body, and it doesnt come out of bottle or from any one single thing.

Goji berries, for example, are great food. We use them in Chinese Medicine as an essence/jing tonic, and for eyesight problems. But they are not a miracle. They are simply good for you. Just as good as cabbage, which no one promotes b/c there is no buck to be made...

So beware of the marketing, whether its the tobacco company or Whole Foods Market. And enjoy your food. Its meant to be pleasurable.


 Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Anger and Fear: How Our Nervous Systems Make Us Sick

Anger and Fear: How Our Nervous Systems Make Us Sick

Reprinted from

In both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda disease is seen as often the perfect storm of a combination of disease causing factors. The factors out of our control are our genetic inheritance, infectious agents we cannot avoid, even the noise and light pollution our societies have created, without regard for natural biorhythms.

What we can control are our diets and lifestyles, and here, lifestyle include what Buddhism calls Mental Culture, which includes everything we do to promote mental health, ease, and wisdom.

Western culture, especially in the USA is very focused on success, material pleasure, consumerism, and the acquisation of wealth necessary to enjoy such things.

In various culture of the East, the development of wisdom and ease were also prioritized and valued, alongside the need for money to survive, or to be wealthy. In fact, in Tamil, the language spoken in the part of India in which I spent the better part of three years, the way you ask someone "how are you" or "how have you been" is "Soukyama?" which translates literally as, "Are you at ease?" And this word for ease, or comfort, Soukya, in Sansrkit refers to a state of harmony in your mind, spirit, and body, such as occurs with a state of inner peace.

The problem for many of us in the west is that we dont put the energy into achieving such a state, and, thanks to the way our bodyminds work, how our nervous systems and endocrine systems work, we are designed to not be at ease, but rather to be alert to signs of danger, just as dogs are. Dogs bark at an unexpected sound. Cats run at the sight of danger. This is the fight or flight response that we share with all animals.

The problem for humans is that in civilized society we often have to repress our consciousness of our physical emotional state. The dog barks, his hair stands on end, and then after the danger passes she goes back to sniffing bushes and trees and thinking about food or getting affection.  The cat runs away in terror from the sight of a dog, but once free and safe, goes back to her meditations on catness.

But O! us human beings. Our problem is that in polite civilized society we can't bark back at our unfair mean boss if we have one, we can't just suddenly jump up and down in the soap aisle at whole foods yelling, "I'm excited!...." and all too many of us feel the need to "keep it together" when our Mom dies rather than spend a week grieving.  Another words we don't experience emotions in our bodies even though our bodies keep score for us.

It says in Chinese medicine that "Fear Makes the Qi Descend." What is Qi in this case? Its the physiological processes of the body, one of which is urination, the other defecation. If someone, God forbid, put a gun to your head, you might pee in your pants, or even poo in your pants. Its how our nervous systems are hard-wired. If a mountain lion suddenly appeared in the room and you were on the ground floor you might jump through the window to escape. When I saw a rattle snake staring me in the face with its rattle shaking at the Grand Canyon I jumped backwards literally 10 feet. I can't normally do that. Intense survival instinct based on fear communicated by my eyes and ears to my endocrine system caused a rush of adrenalin secretion that mobilized my Qi downwards into my legs to save my life. Fear makes the Qi descend.

But what happens when Fear is much more psychologically complex. My mother did not love me and constantly told me I would be a failure, both implicitly and explicitly. Now I am a famous stage actor with such terrible stage fright I get diarrhea every night before going on. Or my boss is a bully and I am worried I will be fired, but cant admit it to myself that i am worried. A million scenarios exist. Especially when the fear is there and we don't allow ourselves to feel it. Or when, for example, you are the children of divorced parents and you feel insecure and have weak "Kidney Qi" to start with and start wetting the bed, but instead of your parents being emotionally intelligent enough to look at emotional factors, just get an alarm clock device triggered by the wet bed.

This is the mechanism by which people develop chronic functional disorders of the urinary tract such as interstitial cystitis, frequent urination, bedwetting, and even certain chronic prostate inflammation. These disorders are most often seen in people who suffer from anxious personality types, and sometimes full-on anxiety disorders. There are other factors, too, but fear and anxiety are frequent. The same is true of chronic diarrhea and some types of irritable bowel syndrome.

Chinese Medicine says that "Anger Makes the Qi Rise." This corresponds to the fight aspect of the fight or flight response. In order to fight we have to mobilize our resources to our faces, neck, shoulders, arms. We make fists. Our faces scrunch up when we are angry. We clench our jaws. The problem again is, that while the dog goes back to sniffing after the fight is over, we don't. We carry grudges. We think about stuff at age 50 that happened when we were 10 years old and are still angry and are often left in a situation where small things trigger big anger response. Or the anger is totally repressed and we let people push us to do things we dont want to do because we are people pleasers, but underneath are angry and frustrated and end up with headaches. Chronic headaches almost always have anger and intensity as a chief causative factor. Anger drives us to drink because alcohol is sweet and a muscle relaxer. Three martini lunch. 

Many of us end up suffering from somatic expressions of our emotional experiences, in which our body speaks for our mental-emotional state. Our bodies keep the score. The body and mind are not on a continuim, rather, they are one and the same. Everything we think see or feel affects our nervous system and endocrine system immediately via the fight flight freeze response.

The best remedy for this problem, the best way to learn control of this natural physiological process is through Mindfulness meditation and Dr. Jeffrey Brantly's books, Calming Your Angry Mind , and Calming Your Anxious Mind are the books I recommend very very highly to all of my patients who I treat for Anxiety, Fear, Anger, and Depression with Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in my San Diego Acupuncture and Ayurveda practice.

Dr. B is by far the best explainer in print of Mindfulness Meditation stripped of any of the Buddist dogma that follows other teachers. Which means anyone, regardless of religious belief system can use these books. Good Luck!

Eyton Shalom San Diego, CA

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA February 2016 All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Indian Style Tri-doshic Okra Masala for Chronic Constipation

Cooked Okra pacifies all 3 dosha in Ayurveda, but in this recipe, it especially pacifies Vata, and is an excellent food remedy for chronic constipation and dry hard stools.

It can be adjusted to each of the doshas by altering the ingredients very slightly.

Want to know how to cook Okra without it coming out a slimy mess?

All this and more in my latest article on my website blog article

Indian Style Tri-doshic Okra Masala

Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Chinese Medicine and Philosophy: Dogs and Virtue

Chinese Medicine and Philosophy: Dogs and Virtue

While Chinese Medicine and Philosophy do not speak about morality in the way Judeo-Christian-Islamic culture does, it does speak about morality in terms of balance between Yin and Yang and also the relationship between Heaven-Humans-Earth.

For example, the emperor rules in the name of Heaven (and here Heaven has none of the associations it has in Christianity or Islam, but is more associated with some kind of transcendant celestial spheres), and as such it is going against nature to revolt against the emperor (or to disrespect your parents.), because he rules with the mandate of heaven, or Tian, which is why the famous square in China that stands south of the famous gate to the Imperial City is called Tian-an-men Square, Men is gate, An is peace, and Tien is heaven.

On the other hand, if the emperor is corrupt and unjust, then it is our obligation as humans to overthrow the emperor, because he rules with the mandate of Heaven and this mandate requires virtue and justice.

What is interesting in Chinese philosophy and culture is the absence of our Western Judeo-Christian notions of sin, which involve many things not related to justice or virtue, per se, such as violation of the sabbath, or certain kinds of consensual sex acts.

On the other hand, most cultures look upon the taking of innocent life as some kind of sin, with differing conceptual frameworks.

Which leads us to dogs. Dogs are the most wonderful of pets as everyone, including people living in places where dogs are food, knows. So what is your obligation as a dog owner?

Fundamentally, it seems that if you are going to be a dog guardian, you should take the time to understand what a dog needs. If you dont, are you committing a JudeoChristian sin, or are you simply being unjust and unvirtuous?

Two of the items I noticed on the below list made special sense. One is to give you dog plenty of time to smell and explore her world. First thing I noticed as an adult when taking care of my friends dog and walking him in the park off leash, was just what an imperative he has to sniff his world, well beyond finding where to urinate. I really noticed this when walking him off leash on the trail in the mountains all the more, the degree to which is joy level goes up when the sniffing is in a new place...

The other is your obligation to teach your dog how to walk on leash without pulling. Training a dog can be done it only takes time.  Happy New Year!

11 Things Humans Do that Dogs Hate

11 Human Foods Good for Dogs/5 Human Foods Dangerous for Dogs

Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter and Sleep in Chinese Medicine: Kidney Qi

 Great new article on the relationship between Winter, Sleep, and Kidney Qi, your body's deepest level of vitality that in Classical Chinese Medical physiology is associated with the seasonal Qi of Winter. The Nei Jing says, " Winter go to sleep early and wake up late, after the sun has warmed the ground (note: relatively speaking, that.). Here she is:

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Friday, December 11, 2015

Body Scanning for Vatta and Pitta Disorders

Body Scanning is an extremely valuable practice that originated in Yoga where it is an advanced aspect of Savasana, also known as the corpse pose.

It is sometimes referred to as Progressive Relaxation, and is has been used for years now in Western Medicine clinics that specialize in the treatment of chronic pain, because body scanning can help abort the anxiety/tension response that can be created by that feeling of helplessness that can occur with chronic pain. Body scanning also teaches you how to unwind the tension and knots that develop in your muscles and fascia with mental and emotional stress

In my San Diego Acupuncture, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine practice I find Body Scanning a really valuable aspect of the treatment of any of the disorders that involve nervous system over-activation. Western medicine now does a good job explaining the Gut-Brain connection, which is how an overactivated nervous system creates disease. This is the sympathetic nervous system drive associated with unrelenting stress response. The remedy is to cultivate the relaxation response which is so far from being woo-woo. The relaxation response, cultivated by progressive relaxation and body scanning, activates the para-sympathetic nervous system associated with all of the beneficial hormones, lower blood pressure and sugar, etc. Read the below article on my website to find out how body scanning pacifies elevated Vata and Pitta and how to do it...Thanks!

Body Scanning for Vatta and Pitta Disorder

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Great new article in Time Magazine on the efficacy of acupuncture and Alexander technique for treating neck pain with acupuncture. Acupuncture reduced pain by 32%, whereas Physical Therapy and Excercise by only 9%. And i think if you were to tailor the acupuncture to the individual you would get even better results, since these kinds of studies rely on the same treatment for everyone.

Check out the original study in the Annals of Internal Medicine

read more on my website article:

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Dry Needling and Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

Great new article that explains the difference and similarity between Dry Needling and Acupuncture. Dry needling is, in effect, a specialized kind of acupuncture based on deactivation of Trigger Points. In recent year, new work has been done in the Sports Acupuncture field on the importance of deactivation of not only Trigger Points, but Motor Points.

The most effective treatment of Acute and Chronic Shoulder Pain is the use of Dry Needling of Trigger and Motor Points, ALONG WITH, the use of Chinese style acupuncture on the Ah Shi points and to open the flow of Qi through the channel in which the Myofascial pain occurs. This combines the best of both worlds--deactivation of trigger points and motor points, along with movement of Qi and additional "soft tissue" or fascial decompression. I call this Myofascial Acupuncture.

In addition, in my San Diego Myfascial acupuncture practice, I also use an advanced Chinese cupping technique called "Sliding Cups" utilizing the anti-inflammatory effects of both Ayurvedic Oils like Mahanarayan Oil, and Chinese liniments such as Golden Sunshine Pain Cream and Spring Wind Brand Dr. Shir's Liniment,created by Andy Ellis from his Chinese teacher's recipe.

When necessary, especially for frozen shoulder, I like to use electrical stimulation on the needles. I also use heat to move the qi and relax the sinews/connective tissue.

Very important are the home exercises I teach, which combine what I have learned form the Egoscue method with what I have learned from the Feldenkrais method.
At times I will refer my shoulder pain or neck and back pain patients who have a long history of bad posture or an inability to pick up exercises on their own, to local Feldenkrais or Egoscue practitioners.

Here is an in depth article from my website on Dry Needling and Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Friday, July 25, 2014

Acupuncture for Bell's Palsy

  Acupuncture  for Bell's Palsy is a very effective treatment. It consists of a combination of local points on the face that disperse the wind cold stagnation in the channels that allows the virus to opportunistically reproduce, and that "chase the virus" out of the face by unblocking stagnation. It is often combined with moxabustion, a method that warms the channels and dramatically moves the Qi.

We use points on the hands and feet and legs, like Zu San Li and He Gu that are used to reduce the effects of stress on the nervous system, and to boost the immune system. Often Bell's Palsy occurs in the aftermath of a period of high stress that was followed by a common cold. Because the immune system is weak, the virus that causes Bell's Palsy can now opportunistically migrate through the nerves, which become inflamed, thus failing in their job of bringing information to the muscles, which as a result become paralyzed.

In my San Diego Acupuncture practice I have been treating Bell's Palsy successfully with a combination of Acupuncture to unblock the Qi stasis, warm the channels and boost the immune system, as well as to relax the sinews and help deal with the stress that weakened the immune system.

I combine acupuncture for Bell's Palsy with Chinese herbal formulas like Gui Zhi Tang and Huang Qi with Reishii mushroom, Cinnamon Twig combination with Astragalus and Reishii, to warm and regulate the channels and boost and strengthen the Qi.

Bell's Palsy is one of the cases where I am all for the combination of western treatment with natural medicine, because, in my book, whatever it takes to undo facial paralysis seems reasonable. Standard of care in western medicine is Prednisone to dramatically reduce the inflammation leading to the paralysis, and Acyclovir or Valtrex to kill the virus causing the inflammation.

I have had patients who even with that protocol did not get better until they added the Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I think anyone with this problem will get better faster with Acupuncture, Chinese, and Western Medicine combined. It generally only takes 3 treatments to see dramatic improvement, sometimes there is dramatic improvement after only the first treatment, and rarely has it taken more than 6 treatments. I recommend trying 3 to start with and then evaluating how much its helping.

Call or email for a free over the phone consultation to determine if acupuncture is for you.

Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With PermissionAyurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego