An older woman touching her stomach
All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, Hormone Regulation, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health, Surgical Recovery & Scars

Fiber Fiber Fiber!

 

Everyone knows fiber is important, but do you know why?

You’ve probably heard that fiber is a good way to maintain regular bowel movements. Maybe you’ve even heard about its possible role in preventing colon cancer or that fiber is beneficial for immunity. You may not know that fiber can balance your hormones too!

Fiber moves our digestion along at a healthy pace, allowing us to properly eliminate waste products -including excess hormones- rather than reabsorbing them. It is beneficial to properly eliminate both naturally produced hormones and prescription hormones, such as those used for menopause or medical transition.

PMS, mood swings, headaches, acne, heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, fibroids, endometriosis, hot flashes, breast, thyroid, and prostate cancers can all be caused by an imbalance in hormones.

If you’re not having (at least) daily bowel movements, you’re not eliminating excess hormones as often as you should be and are more likely to suffer from these conditions.

Cisgender “women are more likely affected by constipation by threefold compared with men. The female colon is longer and has more twists and turns, like a rollercoaster… We’re more likely to overuse laxatives, leading to weaker bowel muscles. We’re more likely to have painful hemorrhoids, which occur in 40 percent of pregnancies, and to restrain from pooping in public places.” Sara Gottfried MD.

How does it work?

Every time we eat, our liver produces bile, a substance full of digestive enzymes and other ingredients that help us break down fats and other nutrients into smaller particles. Some of these smaller particles are toxins (from medications, preservatives, etc) and metabolic waste products (including excess hormones like estrogen) which are then soaked up into the bile. When you have adequate fiber in your diet, this toxin-filled bile binds to fiber and together they are excreted from the body through a bowel movement, taking those toxins and waste products with it.

If you don’t have adequate fiber, bile and the associated waste products have nothing to bind to, and they don’t move through your intestines as quickly. This allows those toxins and excess hormones to be reabsorbed into the blood stream and repeatedly recirculated through your system.

That’s not all! Fiber also:

What does this mean for our hormones?

If you don’t eliminate bile fast enough, the estrogen it holds is reabsorbed and your blood estrogen levels rise. “Those estrogens can stimulate the growth of abnormal cells” including cancer cells (Wisconsin-based nutritionist Karen Hurd), as well as increase the liklihood of endometriosis, PMS, and many other issues. The same holds true for other hormones in our bloodstream and the accumulation of these hormones can cause many different hormone imbalances.

How can I prevent this cycle and balance my hormones?

“A special kind of dietary fiber called lignin, present in flax seeds, beans and lentils, binds to estrogen in the digestive tract to ensure it is eliminated and not reabsorbed into our system. Dietary fiber also feeds the beneficial probiotic bacteria living in our gut and keeps them healthy. These probiotic bacteria are important because they can also prevent estrogen being reabsorbed from our colon back into circulation” (Dr. Amanda Tracy, ND).

Are you on board yet? Great! Let’s get started.

Tips for taking fiber:

Nerd out about fiber:

“There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in the cell walls of plants and cannot be dissolved in water. This is beneficial as it adds bulk to stools by binding with water and acting as a stool softener to assist in moving it out of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber on the other hand dissolves in water and helps to slow the passage of food through the digestive tract, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential to a good diet” Brandy Augustine PhD. Soluble fiber also protects the intestinal barrier and contributes to a healthy microbiome.

The following foods contain soluble fiber (to support a healthy microbiome and steady blood sugar levels):

  • Oatmeal and oat bran
  • Rice bran
  • Barley
  • Apples
  • Oranges and other citrus
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Flax seeds
  • Berries
  • Chia seeds

The following foods contain insoluble fiber (to promote regular bowel movements and secretion of hormones and toxins):

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Turnips, beets, carrots
  • Apple skin

BONUS: The following contain prebiotic fiber (to support a healthy gut microbiome):

  • Legumes
  • Wheat, barley,
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Artichokes
  • Onions, garlic

Resources:

More tips for avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy gut

http://dramandatracynd.blogspot.com/2013/02/fixing-your-hormone-problems-with-fiber.html

https://bodyunburdened.com/health-benefits-of-fiber/

https://experiencelife.com/article/fiber-why-it-matters-more-than-you-think/

http://www.brandyaugustine.com/journal/2014/7/7/3-ways-dietary-fiber-helps-maintain-hormone-balance


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, Self Care for Trans Health, Surgical Recovery & Scars

Opening The Four Gates

One of the most common balancing and stress-relieving treatments is called “The Four Gates” and it’s just four points: two by your thumbs and two by your big toes.  It seems so simple, but it feels powerful! The 4 gates circulate energy throughout your body, improving your circulation, and releasing pain and stress out of the body. It works beautifully alone, or in combination with other points.

Together, these points are a great treatment for pain and stress, especially pain caused or aggravated by stress (think tight shoulders). We use it a lot for preventing menstrual cramps, releasing stress and anxiety, and easing headaches, tight muscles, and stress.

hi-2292499_1920Individually, the points by your thumbs enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation, ease pain, and treat anything to do with the face (headaches, facial pain, TMJ, allergies, colds, toothaches, acne, etc.) They are found at the place where your thumb rests on the opposite hand when you shake hands.

 

leg-1505033_1920The points by your big toes ease pain, calm the nervous system (for anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues), treat menstrual disorders, and assist your liver in detoxification. They are found in the depression between your big toe and second toe.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

A transgender woman with long hair
All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, LGBT Inclusion For Providers, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health, Surgical Recovery & Scars

Treating Post-Surgical Constipation

photo credit: Practical Cures on flickr CC

Constipation is extremely common post-surgery, especially in combination with constipating pain killers, less physical activity, and irregular fluid and food intake. Often a bowel movement is required before a hospital will let a patient go home, so encouraging this process is especially beneficial to get you home sooner.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier,  less painful, more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially points on either side of your navel and points on the stomach and large intestine ‘meridians’ (lines along the body in Chinese Medicine, sort of like dermatomes).

Acupressure

Several of these points can also be used at home as acupressure points for constipation. Press each point lightly (no more than an inch deep for abdominal points, about the pressure of holding hands for arm and leg points) for about 30 seconds at a time:

Massage

Belly massage is also helpful. You can find a Chi-Nei-Tsang practitioner near you, or watch this video demo to perform a similar belly massage yourself. You can also refer to the illustrated steps available here. There are many methods of breathing exercises for constipation as well that massage your belly from the inside!

Herbs

Acupuncture can be complemented with some herbs that stimulate bowel motility like:

Nutrition

Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water and incorporate more warm foods and beverages to wake up your digestive system gently. Try ginger tea, hot water with lemon, and bone broth. If you urinate more frequently than every 2 hours you may be drinking too much or too fast. If you urinate less frequently than every 5 hours you are dehydrated!

Eat warm, easy-to-digest foods like rice porridge, oatmeal, and mashed sweet potato or yams. When you’re ready, try lamb or vegetable and mushroom soup. Give your family and friends recipes to make for you during your recovery, such as: Magical Mineral Broth, Congee, and Almond flour ginger cookies.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”


Further study:

  Acupuncture at ST25 and BL25   Acupuncture at LI11 and ST37   Acupuncture at ST25, BL25, LI11 and ST37   Medicine:oral use of mosapride citrate: 4-week oral use, 5mg, three times daily 0.5 hour before meal   Total
SBMs [1]
[units: times per week]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.7  (1.9)   2.5  (1.7)   2.9  (2.0)   2.9  (2.8)   2.8  (2.1)
Bristol scale [2]
[units: units on a scale]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.8  (1.3)   2.9  (1.4)   3.0  (1.5)   2.7  (1.4)   2.9  (1.8)
Degree of straining during defecation [3]
[units: participants]
0   5   8   9   5   27
1   63   60   68   59   250
2   68   69   58   72   267
3   30   35   28   31   124
no defecation   2   0   2   3   7

 

Scar reduction therapy
All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, LGBT Inclusion For Providers, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health, Surgical Recovery & Scars

Acupuncture for Scar Treatment

Why Should We Treat Scars?
Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction.
Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.
In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected.

Scar Treatment with Acupuncture and Herbs
Scars that are at least two weeks old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
A 2014 study used local acupuncture (“surrounding the dragon“: using needles directly around and through the scar) with distal points (4 gates and ST36). After eight treatments in 5 weeks the scar pain had reduced from a 7/10 to a 1-2/10. Such treatments can not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to flatter, smaller, less noticeable scars and a reduction of keloiding.
Moxibustion (a gentle warming treatment achieved by burning dried mugwort), may also be used. Small amounts of moxa may be burned directly on the skin -with a sesame oil cream as a medium to prevent burns- around the scar, or a stick of rolled moxa may be burned above the site to warm the area. Both methods are pleasant and effective.
Topical herbs can also be very beneficial for scar healing. It is generally best to apply your liniment of choice over the affected area before bed and cover with a tshirt (or other clean soft article of clothing depending on the site of the scar), so that it has plenty of time to soak in without washing or sweating which would interfere with product absorption during the day.

Which Topical Should You Choose?
  • Prism’s Scar Oil has frankincense and other essential oils that break up scar tissue in a tamanu oil base, a great oil for reducing the appearance of scars, including keloids.
  • Zheng Gu Shui is beneficial for deep scars that may have adhesions to underlying tissues (for example surgical scars). They can improve local circulation, healing of the scar and the area that was injured, and reduce associated pain. It is better for healing and restoring health to the area than for cosmetic scar reduction.
  • Wan Hua Oil prevents scarring, increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and helps regenerate damaged tissues. Once the wound closes, massage the oil directly over the scar daily to prevent scarring and promote healing. This option is best to prevent cosmetic scars from surgery. It is also effective for scars from burns.
  • Aloe aids scar healing and reduces infection and swelling. If used during the healing process it can reduce the formation of scars. Be sure to use 100% aloe (fresh is best), not aloe with alcohol or other additives that can dry and irritate the area.
  • Ching Wan Hung oil promotes healing and new tissue growth, reduces scarring, and prevents infection. It is especially effective for scars from burns.
  • You can also use castor oil compresses, to break up deeper scar tissue and adhesions, but I don’t recommend this for new scars that are still healing (or any open wounds).

Note: Many people recommend the usage of Vitamin E on scars, but newer research shows that Vitamin E does not help reduce the appearance of scars, and in the case of surgical scars can actually make scars more visible due to the development of irritation or contact dermatitis.


Providers: read more about acupuncture scar treatments from Skya Abbate, DOM.

Additionally, my colleague, Dena Gold LAc, suggests a Japanese style version of surrounding the dragon that involved needling slightly outside the scar, towards and under under the scar superficially enough that the needle falls rather than roots. Dena also suggests checking the fire points of the channel the scar intersects and if they are tender, needle the metal and water points of that channel before treating the scar directly.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

 

an elder lesbian
All Prism Blog Posts, Menopause and Andropause, Surgical Recovery & Scars

10 Reasons LGBTQ Seniors Should Get Acupuncture

  1. LGBT older people face significant health disparities, “linked to a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, violence and victimization; higher poverty rates; a lack of access to LGBT-competent providers; and low rates of health insurance coverage” (Out & Visible). Therefore, LGBTQ older adults need even more access to healthcare.
  2. Acupuncture helps to protect the immune system and prevent the potentially dangerous infections that become more likely as we age.
  3. Acupuncture eases pain and arthritis as well as strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis and injuries, so you can maintain mobility and reduce the need for surgeries and medications.
  4. Acupuncture lowers blood pressure and strengthens the circulatory system, preventing potentially life threatening cardiovascular events.
  5. LGBT elders “deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation” (Sage USA). Acupuncture reduces anxiety and depression, helps you to adapt constructively to change, and to move through grief.
  6. Acupuncture helps your body prepare for surgery and to heal faster after surgery, reducing complications and need for pain medications.
  7. Acupuncture does all of this without having to worry about drug-drug interactions!
  8. AIMC Berkeley is an LGBTQ safe space so you don’t have to worry about healthcare discrimination. “44% of transgender older people worry that their relationships with healthcare providers would be negatively affected if their gender identities were known, as opposed to 20% of LGB older people” (Autostraddle on LGBTQ Seniors).
  9. Treatment is determined based on the individual, not the illness. All the symptoms are seen in relation to each other leading to a unique treatment for each patient instead of cookie cutter prescriptions.
  10. You get more time with a practitioner than you would with an MD. With 60 minute appointments, Katrina can take time to really listen to you.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.