Pets are one of the most vulnerable members of our household, and the growing popularity of essential oils has had a dramatic impact on them.

Essential Oil Safety for Cats

One of the most interesting questions I’ve gotten lately is “Are essential oils safe for cats?”

I am neither a veterinarian nor an aromatherapist. I’m up front about that right off the bat because I want you to know what you’re getting into. I use essential oils and through my acupuncture schooling and my own trial and error, I’ve learned a lot.

The popularity of essential oils has grown enormously over the past couple decades. Even if you haven’t used them yourself a family member, a friend or a co-worker has probably talked about them with you. You can find essential oils everywhere from metaphysical and herbal shops to dollar stores these days.

Along with the increased popularity of other CAM (complementary and alternative medicines) modalities, people have taken essential oils out of the domain of perfumes and back into medicine. But along with this, we have seen an uptick in “adverse events” or injuries as well.

This is common; statistically speaking the more people are utilizing a modality, the more injuries are going to happen. But for such a gentle medicine there seems to be a disproportionate amount of injuries and this usually happens when people see a gentle medicine as safe. It is safe, but you need to still be treating it as a medicine.

One of my biggest rules for natural health care is: if you are going to treat something as a medicine you have to recognize that it will have side effects. There is no remedy on this planet that will be both effective and not have a side-effects or the possibility of an adverse reaction. No matter how gentle a medicine is, respect the possibility that when used wrong, it can make a patient sick.

Cats are some of the most vulnerable members of our household. Are you using essential oils in a way that could make them sick?

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Why you need to stop #hustling

Type A people have it rough.

It’s not that the world is hard on Type A people. The world at large loves Type A people. They are doers and movers and shakers. Type A people are hard on themselves (which is probably why they’re more susceptible to heart disease and stroke.)

Type A people just keep going, digging deep into yang energy and using its rocket fuel to start businesses, create art and move forward in everything.

Type A people don’t know how to stop.

Imagine being in the North Woods of Minnesota. Sunlight warms the wooden porch floor. The sounds of water lapping on the shore and children playing follow the breeze through the open windows. It’s 80, and beautiful and you’re on your laptop because you won’t. stop. working. 

That’s Type A.

Because the Type A definition of relaxation is speed boats out on the lake, wakeboarding, water skiing and high energy water sports. It’s wiring together fireworks and cooking for 100 people.

Type A people are all about the hustle.

I’m here to tell you that America is Type A. And we need to turn it down a notch.

The 24/7 hustle is about doing the work, but doing the work 24/7 is making us sicker, less productive and less efficient. Read more about how adding a bit of yin to your life will make doing the work easier and more effective.

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Is your acupuncture provider using the appropriate acupuncture safety techniques? Check out this new blog post for the inside scoop on acupuncture safety.

Acupuncture safety: Knowing your practitioner

“I have a question for you. Do you sanitize your needles?”

Of the questions I get about acupuncture, this is not one of the most common.

“No, the process of repeatedly sterilizing needles is really expensive and makes needles more prone to breaking. Reusing needles is dangerous anyway. I use single-use, disposable needles in sterile blister packs because I follow Clean Needle Technique.”

This continued into a lively discussion about CDC recommendations, licensing regulations and all sorts of other safety bits about acupuncture that made me think I should write up a blog post.

The fact is that his question was a very important question that triggers other questions:

  • What is Clean Needle Technique (CNT)?
  • What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
  • Who is allowed to do acupuncture?
  • What kind of training do people get before they are allowed to needle?
  • What are some signs that your practitioner may be unsafe?

These are all very important questions that should be answered for every patient who wants to be in the know.

Is your acupuncture provider using the appropriate acupuncture safety techniques? Check out this new blog post for the inside scoop on acupuncture safety.

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Living seasonally is about more than just food. Check out these lifestyle changes to live your summer in sync

Summer Living: Utilizing the Season of Flourishing

Summer is here!

“Wait, what?” some of you are saying, “Summer doesn’t start until June 20th.”

I get what you’re saying. Here in Minnesota it feels like we skipped spring altogether. Two weeks ago we had a 2 day blizzard with 20 inches of snow in the Twin Cities. Today we have a predicted high of 76 and the lilac bushes are running to catch up.

But the way we think of seasons is…off. We are disconnected from the cycles of the seasons, the moon and the sun because we run off the calendars in our pockets and the light from our television screens.

It’s a shame really. There is so much wisdom that our ancestors – all of our ancestors – had.

Seasonal living and the ideas that come with it aren’t only rooted in Chinese medicine.

​Last December I posted a blog on living seasonally in the winter. Now, let’s talk about the summer.

Living seasonally is about so much more than food. Read about the lifestyle changes you can make this summer to make your health flourish

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Painful periods and cramps may be common but they are not part of a normal cycle.

How to get rid of painful menstrual cramps

Dysmenorrhea is something most women have experienced at least once in their life and many women experience monthly.

Dys– means ‘painful’. Meno– means ‘pertaining to menses or menstruation’. –rrhea means “to flow through”.

Dysmenorrhea – painful menstrual flow.

The most common presentation of dysmenorrhea is menstrual cramps. Many women think that painful periods and menstrual cramps are just a normal part of life. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Menstruation can be a positive and painless part of your existence and this is how acupuncture can help.​

Painful periods and cramps may be common but they are not part of a normal cycle.

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It can be frustrating to be told to just relax, but the fact is that stress can impact fertility. But you can fight back with these five stress busting ideas

Five ways to increase fertility by decreasing stress

I don’t think stress ever came up more than when my husband and I were trying to conceive.

“Relax, it will happen!”

For a great many of you reading this on the TTC or “trying to conceive” journey, your eyes just twitched. I have to be honest, it hurt a little to type. Out of all the phrases I hated hearing while TTC, that was at the top of the list.

The problem is that as much as we hate it, conventional wisdom has it right:​

Stress impacts fertility.

It’s not something we can argue. We have thousands of years of doctors and sages corroborating all of the studies we’ve done on the subject in the past century. The difference is now we know why – hormones.

It can be frustrating to be told to just relax, but the fact is that stress can impact fertility. But you can fight back with these five stress busting ideas

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This simple and healthy dessert has only a few ingredients - pears, walnuts, ginger and honey. But it's simplicity is based in Chinese Medicine.

Baked Pears with Walnuts and Ginger-infused Honey

You have finally gotten over this year’s flu (with the help of this cold fighting broth, perhaps) and now you have a new battle to fight:

The dry and bloody nose.

Every winter families dig through their storage spaces and garages for their humidifiers with the hopes of fighting off cracked and painful noses and lips. Sometimes we’re successful, most times we are not.

I have a solution for you. This simple recipe is a delicious dessert and can help with the dreaded winter dryness.

This simple and healthy dessert has only a few ingredients - pears, walnuts, ginger and honey. But it's simplicity is based in Chinese Medicine.

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What is qi? What are yin and yang? Check out this primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine and find out how to talk to your acupuncturist!

Acupuncture 101: How to talk to your acupuncturist

“What’s wrong with my liver?

My patient was confused and a little concerned.

“You have liver qi stagnation.” I said, “But don’t worry, there’s nothing physically wrong with your liver…” I went on to explain that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, the liver governs a category of symptoms that relates to emotional regulation and flow. I was describing a constricted emotional flow, what we commonly refer to in the West as “stress”.

Acupuncturists and other East Asian practitioners can often sound like they are speaking another language, because in a way they are. I started college as a linguist and I have maintained that interest to this day, so I think of a lot of things in terms of “language”.

As Americans, we speak the “language” of Western medicine. During my internships at Regions hospital, Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center I had to learn how to “translate” what I was saying because when I speak to my patients I often speak to them from the metaphor of Chinese medicine.

I’ve realized over time that it would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary for my patients to read, something I could reference over and over in future blog posts and newsletters.

So here it is: Acupuncture 101. I will cover some basic concepts (and misconceptions!) of commonly used words and phrases so that at your next appointment you can be prepared to talk to your acupuncturist.

What is qi? What are yin and yang? Check out this primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine and find out how to talk to your acupuncturist!

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Shonishin: Holistic infant and pediatric care

When we picture acupuncture, most of us see comfortable warm rooms with soft lighting and relaxing needle naps. Or for those of us who are familiar with community acupuncture, we see a group setting with people kicking back and healing together. What do all of these have in common?

Almost all of us are picturing adults.

But Traditional East Asian Medicine, or TEAM, isn’t just for adults. My most rewarding internship was at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities, where I treated children (and their parents) for nausea and pain related to cancer treatments, anxiety, depression and many other conditions.

TEAM is a great way to support your child’s health. It can help them sleep better at night, even out their energy, support their digestion and bolster their lifelong vitality.

Go beyond infant massage

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