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Good friend of the nest, and writer, Eric Hawxby is our featured guest blogger. A big thank you to Eric!

As we emerge from the longest, coldest Winter since The Ice Age; consider the Spring season is traditionally known as one of rebirth. It is at this time of year that our natural inclination is to lay to rest our sedentary wintry lives and begin a new existence refreshed and renewed.  Spring-cleaning is performed, dust-bunnies are shooed with a sweep of the broom, ushering in the bunnies of Easter (Spring). While binge-cleaning our homes is a great way to clear the air and freshen the psyche, it’s also an ideal time to treat our bodies to a gentle Spring-cleaning of its own.

Generally speaking, Winter is the season of rich and heavy comfort foods, not only during the holidays but during those bitterly cold nights hunkered down on the couch, armed against Arctic Blasts with our favorite take-out food. Traditional Chinese medicine correlates Spring-time with the liver—our body’s vigilant and dedicated house-keeper. It rids our bodies of dangerous toxins helping it to stay healthy and balanced. In this modern era we are assaulted with toxins which we absorb into our systems every time we breathe, eat, and drink. Toxins are even absorbed through the body’s largest and most vulnerable organ—our skin. At The Nest, in order to honor this Spring, we are celebrating the liver and all that it does to keep us living healthy, productive, and joyful lives.

There are many ways to gently assist the detoxification of our bodies. By cleansing ourselves of built-up toxins we can help boost and sustain our energy levels, enjoy a glowing complexion, and restore balance to our natural bio-rhythms. It’s important to remember that when approaching a cleanse or detox regimen that your goal isn’t to shock your system with an abrupt and drastic fasting or by over-doing it with supplements designed to flush your system; these practices can cause serious short and long term problems for you. Instead, start simply by first reducing the toxins you ingest through the foods and beverages you consume. Cut out or reduce your intake of sugary, chemically-sweetened sodas, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and coffee. Instead, moderately consume organic fruit juices, unsweetened teas and make a concerted effort to drink 8 glasses of  purified drinking water. Avoid drinking out of plastic containers. There are free smart-phone apps that can monitor and encourage your intake of water. Adding fresh lemon and cucumber to your glass of water aids the detox process and is palatable and refreshing. Organic green-tea will help cleanse the body of free-radicals whose only goal is to accelerate the body’s aging process. While growing older is an inevitable and beautiful part of our life-cycle, we don’t need free-radicals pushing us towards the grave. Catechins, found in green-tea, will help you fight off these fun-haters. On the go, order a green-juice drink from the neighborhood health-food joint, or make your own incorporating watercress, spinach, ginger, broccoli, add some fresh mint for taste.

Your Spring detox plan should also include eating smaller meals made with as many whole, fresh, organic ingredients as possible. Mom may know best, but Mother Nature knows even better. Make a point to eat natural foods that come into harvest during the season of the region in which you live; in addition to seasonal produce from other areas. Some healthy Springtime bounties include: artichokes, nettles, lettuces, asparagus, New Potatoes, and Spring carrots. Add some of that fresh mint to your smoothie or iced tea or eat a few leaves as-is. Morels, peas, radishes, rhubarb, green garlic, fiddleheads, fennel, naval oranges and lemons are at their best during the Spring season. Incorporate them into your favorite recipes.

Another effective way to cleanse and rejuvenate the body is by taking a dry sauna or steam bath to open pores and sweat out the accumulated toxins inside our bodies. Obviously, exercise is a great way to induce sweating and should be incorporated into any lifestyle regardless of the season. Detoxing should be a gentle and healthy component of your health regimen. Over-exercising or too much time in the sauna will dehydrate your system and stress the body’s ability to regulate temperature and will purge your body of necessary electrolytes. Treat your body with care and respect and you will be rewarded with the gift of health.

Chinese Medicine modalities can also help facilitate the cleansing and detoxing of our bodies. Cupping and Scaling are gentle and effective ways to increase circulation and draw out harmful radicals traveling through the blood-stream and residing in our muscles. Chinese foot-plasters can also be beneficial in expelling toxins via the many acupuncture points of our feet and are worn while sleeping. Your health practitioner at The Nest can advise you on these treatments and determine if they would be necessary and of benefit to you. Chinese herbal supplements to aid in detox can be specifically designed for the individual needs of our clients. It is always wise to consult a health-care professional before making drastic changes to your diet and exercise regimens. In our modern times we tend to take aggressive approaches to exercise and fad ‘diets;’ while it’s important exchange the harmful habits for healthier ones. The rabbit may be Spring’s icon, but heed the tortoise for slow and steady always wins the race.

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Lighting the Moxa.

Lighting the Moxa. Image ©The Nest

What is Moxibustion?

Moxa is a name for the herb mugwart and moxibustion simply means the burning of this herb. This modality is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to bring deeper healing to the meridian, or channel of energy, being treated. It creates a subtle, deep heat which is therapeutic for muscle aches and pains. In Traditional Chinese medicine, its primary functions are to increase blood circulation, stimulate Qi, expel damp and stagnation, and right the flow of energy.

Your practitioner will add moxa to your acupuncture treatment as indicated by your symptoms.

Your practitioner will add moxa to your acupuncture treatment as indicated by your symptoms. Image ©The Nest

Moxibustion is useful for so many conditions, it would be impossible to list them all! It is particularly effective for digestive disorders, painful periods and other menstrual issues, fatigue, and pain syndromes like arthritis and fibromyalgia. It has a proven success rate of 85-90% in turning breech presentation babies. We will write about breech turning in our next blog post.

Moxibustion on abdomen. The moxa is enclosed in a container so that the heat is radiates deeply but doesn't feel too hot on the skin.

Moxibustion on abdomen. The moxa is enclosed in a container so that the heat is radiates deeply but doesn’t feel too hot on the skin. Image ©The Nest

If you’d like to know more, ask your practitioner about moxibustion at your next appointment.

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IC PainGreat news for people with IC!Acupuncture and moxibustion significantly improves the condition of Interstitial Cystitis patients, a new study concludes.

Approximately 700,000 Americans have Interstitial Cystitis (IC), a chronic inflammation of the bladder that can cause sufferers to urinate, sometimes painfully, up to 60 times per day and can cause excruciating pain. As many as 90% of people who have IC are women. The condition varies but Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical school reports research suggests that the quality of life for people with IC, “resembles that of a person on kidney dialysis or suffering from chronic cancer pain. Not surprisingly, the condition is officially recognized as a disability”. Only about half of the women with the disorder are able to work full time.

This new study preselected patients with, “difficult cases of interstitial cystitis that did not respond to conventional biomedical procedures.” These patients had already received conventional treatments like, “pharmaceutical medications, hydrodistension, and intravesical instillation of dimethly sulfoxide without relief of symptoms”. The patients received acupuncture and moxibustion to favorable results. The acupuncture points used are traditionally indicated for the treatment of painful urination and urinary dysfunction like difficulty urinating, painful urination and urinary retention. Urinary retention is a common discomfort for IC patients and causes swelling, pain, and can promote infection. Acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine is excellent at restoring proper function and ease with urine elimination.

Moxibustion on abdomen. The moxa is enclosed in a container so that the heat is radiates deeply but doesn't feel too hot on the skin.

Moxibustion on abdomen. The moxa is enclosed in a container so that the heat radiates deeply but does not feel hot on the skin.

You deserve to live pain free and free of the stress of always needing to know the location of the nearest bathroom. Each acupuncture session will soothe the sacral spinal nerves, ease your pain, and promote healthy elimination. Practitioners will work on strengthening the bladder system and finding the root cause of this condition in your unique body.

Remember, acupuncture and moxibustion relieved the painful symptoms of these patients with hard to treat IC.

There is hope!

Don’t hesitate to try it for yourself.

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