- Marianne Benforado L.Ac. Dipl.OM
Acupuncture Services630 Frederick Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
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Traditional Chinese Medicine
Love Your Liver: Take Milk Thistle
According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly 70% of diseases in the U.S. are chronic and lifestyle driven. Read that AGAIN and hopefully it might motivate you to make some changes. So much of our health lies in our own choices.
That is good news! Lifestyle-driven health can also be a positive influence.
One powerful way to affect your health is to love your liver by doing a gentle cleanse.
WAIT! Before you stop reading because you think I’m going to tell you to drink only celery juice for 3 days and that you’re going to be exhausted and headache-y, that is not my way. Probably not a surprise to those who know me. I don’t jump on fads and am moderate in my suggestions. I believe efforts like this should be gentle, doable, and sustainable over the long-term.
I’m going to give you what I call my “back to basics” regime. It’s not a severe cleanse but more of a cleanup and reminder of good dietary habits. It’s a targeted suggestion for liver health, which is a key to healthy aging.
Why the focus on the liver? The liver filters out the toxins we’re exposed to every day in our food, water, air, beauty products, and cleaning supplies. It processes virtually everything we eat, drink, breathe, and even put on our skin. The liver’s primary purpose is to cleanse the blood of impurities by converting toxins into nontoxic waste, which then is eliminated through the body’s stool, urine, and sweat.
My number one suggestion for a happy liver is to take milk thistle.
Many people think of milk thistle as a weed, which always makes me chuckle, because my father always called weeds “misunderstood flowers.” See it in the photo above and I think you’ll agree that totally applies here!
Milk thistle is a powerful detoxifying herb that has a big job. It aids liver function to support better cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It has strong anti-viral properties as well, which can give your immune system a boost. And there are current studies focusing on its anti-inflammatory properties to prevent the decline in brain function we experience as we age.
(Please note: milk thistle may interact with some prescription medications, so I recommend you first talk to your doctor if that is a concern.)
My Favorite Herbal Milk Thistle: Liver Health from Herb Pharm
My favorite way to take milk thistle is as an organic herbal tincture called Liver Health made by Herb Pharm. It contains the whole milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum) plus other liver-friendly herbs like dandelion, artichoke leaf, and fennel seed. I hold Herb Pharm in high regard because of their high-quality products (almost all organic!) and ethical farming practices.
To order a bottle of Liver Health or get more info, visit my Fullscript store. Enter your email and then you can navigate to the product in the catalog. If the alcohol in the tincture is an issue or if you just prefer another form, milk thistle is also available in capsule form.
The link is from my health dispensary at Fullscript, which is an online retailer that focuses solely on supplements and vitamins. They have a good reputation in the industry for their service and quality of brands, so you know you’re getting a good product when you order from my Fullscript store. I’d much rather have you buy here from a trustworthy source than from Amazon. Counterfeit brands and changed expiration dates have been reported there, so you never know what you’re getting or how long it has been sitting somewhere!
When you order from my online store, you are assured of a quality product—no fillers or additives like artificial colors. And, I’m happy to answer any questions regarding products you’re ordering from my online health dispensary. Feel free to give me a call at 831-212-3090.
The very good news is that I get to offer you a 20% discount everytime you order from Fullscript! You can get daily supplements for yourself and your family, including turmeric, probiotics, fish oil, multi vitamins, and lots of other goodies. Plus, shipping is always FREE for orders over $50.
Or, if would like to place an order and pick it up in my office, that is an option. If interested, please let me know the items you’d like to order, and I can take care of that for you. I’ll process your invoice and drop you a note when it’s ready to pick up.
If you have any questions about any of this, please just let me know.
Your Extra Credit Suggestions
Here are two more, extra credit suggestions for your “back-to-basics” cleanse:
1) Eat More Veggies!!
Aim to eat at least 4-5 cups of veggies daily. Yep, you read that right. 4-5 cups a day. And sorry to break it to you but salad doesn’t really count. It doesn’t have the dense nutrition of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
Long term, eating your daily veggies has benefits with no limit! It can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Short term you will feel better. Your poop will be better. You’ll eat less crap, because you will fill up on the good stuff. Try it, you’ll like it!
For me, the best way to do this is to prepare them ahead of time. Every few days I steam a HUGE pot of broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and purple cabbage. Colorful! Nutritious!! Then I put them in everything. Scrambled eggs for breakfast? Add a cup or two of veggies. Rice and beans for lunch? Yep, more veggies. When I’m hungry and need a quick snack, I drizzle a little olive oil over them and a dash or two of salt. It’s delish.
2) Drink Half Your Weight in Water
Water, water, water! Drink it. Coffee doesn’t count. Neither does wine. Ideally, you should drink half your weight in water daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, try to drink 80 ounces of water. Hydration of the tissues is key. This helps the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia all glide over and around each other, which can help a lot with general aches and pains.
Hydration helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out, which is a KEY PILLAR for short-term and long-term health.
One lovely routine to start your day is by drinking a 16-ounce glass of water with 1 full squeeze of the Healthy Liver Tincture. That’s already 20% of your hydration goal for the day and a wonderful way to LOVE your Liver.
Are you wondering why as an acupuncturist I am talking about FOOD and herbs and water? Nutrition is one of the “branches” of Chinese Medicine. I talk to patients about food choices all the time. There’s no one size fits all diet, and you need to consider your constitution, goals, lifestyle, and all that jazz. But there are some habits almost everyone would benefit from hence this newsletter.
The world needs healthy people right now (!!), and I’m so grateful to serve and support your mind, body, and health. If you have any quick questions about the milk thistle tincture or the other suggestions I made, feel free to email me. If you want to delve more into this, make an appointment and we can discuss your specifics. One way or another, I’m always happy to help!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with one of the elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Perhaps unsurprisingly, summertime is associated with the element fire. Fire represents maximum activity. In nature, everything is at its peak growth during the summer, so TCM sees our energy as its most active and exuberant. Summer is the time of year with the most yang energy, which is all about excitement and assertiveness. continue reading
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is all about balance. In this ancient system, the key to health is to move through the world in such a way that our bodies can remain in homeostasis, in balance. This idea connects to sleep patterns, what we eat and ultimately the flow of Qi, or energy, throughout the body. For that reason, healthy eating in summertime, according to TCM, is all about using cooling foods to balance out how hot it is outside. In other words, we can find homeostasis from the inside out. continue reading
Most acupuncture points are located on the 12 primary channels that flow along the surface of the body. However, there are eight Extraordinary Vessels that flow more deeply in the body, and are perhaps even more powerful that the 12 primary channels. The Extraordinary Vessels regulate the 12 channels, and are deep lakes of energy, which can feed the 12 primary channels when they are depleted. continue reading
In addition to the 12 main acupuncture meridians that flow along the surface of the body, there are also deeper channels of energy in the body called the Extraordinary Vessels. You can understand the relationship between the primary acupuncture channels and the Extraordinary Vessels by thinking about what happens when it rains: first, small ditches become full – these are the collateral vessels that break off of the 12 main channels. Next, the reservoirs become full, which are the 12 primary channels. When they are full, they overflow into the Extraordinary Vessels, which are deep and vast lakes of energy within the body. continue reading