- Marianne Benforado L.Ac. Dipl.OM
Acupuncture Services630 Frederick Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
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The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.
As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading
Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading
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!
Big news! I am thrilled and delighted to introduce my new logo. I hope you love it as much as I do!!
The logo beautifully represents elements that are meaningful to me. It is a public declaration of who I am, what I believe in, and what my intentions are for my acupuncture practice.
This spring, I lost a dear friend to lung cancer. I found myself feeling her presence through the birds, clouds, trees, and sparkles on the water. For sure, I will always miss her physical body and the joy of laughing, walking, and working together. But I know from my spiritual practice that we are more than our bodies. Soon after her death, I was watering the manzanita daisies and a hummingbird flew back and forth through the stream of water. It then perched itself on a nearby fence just a few feet from me to bathe in the spray—it was magical! It brought me such joy. I knew immediately my logo was a hummingbird!
According to spirit animal wisdom, the hummingbird represents the lightness of being and the enjoyment of life. Isn’t that perfect? That is my wish for anyone I meet, whether I am at work or out and about in the world.
In creating the hummingbird image, I felt it was important to include the vibrant colors of the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine as they represent health and balance.
Earth yellow – connection
Metal white – inspiration
Water blue – intuition
Fire red – joy
Wood green – growth
You’ll also notice a sparkle burst. Life’s sparkle was essential to acknowledge in some way. The magic of the “aha” moment. The glittering of the sun on the water. That divine inspiration. God. Love. Miracles. Healing. All good things. Sometimes we need a reminder of an outer sparkle to remember our inner sparkles!
I regularly talk with my patients about the upward healing spiral that can start with acupuncture. It can often be the first step on the path towards health and vitality. My hope is that the hummingbird logo inspires you to continue on that path. And may it bring you joy, ease, and a smile.
I would love to hear from you! Do you love hummingbirds? Any good stories from a fluttering visitation? Please feel free to email me any hummingbird magic!!!
I LOVE CUPPING!!!! I love giving it and I love getting it! Cupping is a treatment modality of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years. It is folk medicine that is practiced in many cultures. It has been in the news lately and you may hear it referred to as “myofascial decompression” or some other fancy, trendy name, but rest assured this is an ancient technique.
How does cupping work? The practitioner places plastic or glass cups upside down on the patient’s body, especially where there’s a lot of tension and pain. I’m old school and almost always use GLASS and FIRE! 🙂 The cups are heated or suctioned to create a vacuum, which pulls on the skin and muscles. This activates a healthy flow of blood and Qi (energy) that helps clear toxins out of the muscles. I often use massage oil to glide the cups along the skin or just leave them in place. Cups can stay on the body for 5 to 15 minutes, and then they are easily removed.
The theory behind cupping is that it works on the body’s meridians and acupuncture points. It sets energy in motion so blockages can be cleared and Qi can easily flow along the meridians. It’s typically used with acupuncture to focus on certain points and channels of energy.
Cupping therapy can feel like a deep-tissue massage, and it has some of the same benefits – it relieves pain, stimulates the flow of blood and lymph fluid, and relaxes the muscles. From a Western medical standpoint, this type of therapy promotes good circulation and helps repair body tissues.
It is normal and expected for cups to leave temporary reddish marks or slight bruises that will disappear within a few days after the treatment.
Used in conjunction with acupuncture and herbs, cupping can be useful for certain conditions, such as:
Shoulder and neck pain
Low back pain
Muscle stiffness and tightness
Migraines and headaches
Respiratory issues such as asthma
Colds and coughs
Soft tissue sprains
Stomachaches and abdominal pain
Try it! You’ll like it!! And as always if you have any questions, just ask.