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Acupuncture, herbal medicine and holistic healthcare for El Segundo, LAX, Manhattan Beach, and Los Angeles acupuncture residents since 2002.

 

Thank you for choosing L.A Wellness in El Segundo as your holistic healthcare provider. At L.A Wellness, we use a holistic approach to help you achieve both radiant health as well as balance and peace in your life. Our experienced and knowledgeable acupuncturists, massage therapists, energy healers and Chinese herbalists achieve this aim by employing a gentle yet effective treatment style that stimulates your body's innate healing capacity. We provide holistic lifestyle counseling in nutrition, exercise, and awareness practices, empowering you with the resources required to accelerate and sustain optimum health. Our friendly welcoming staff, serene environment, and highest quality Chinese herbs, supplements, and health care products further support you on your journey to radiant health.

Friday
Oct172014

Pregnancy and the microbiome…you are not alone

by Meredith Kinsel-Ziter, Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist

 

The journey to motherhood is so personal, so familiar… a coupling of lives, another human body made with pieces of you, virtually contiguous with your own body.  The connection between mother and baby is unmatched in its intimacy.

Or is it?

It is just the two of you (unless you happen to be carrying multiples), right? Right? RIGHT??  Um, actually, no.  You are not alone.  In fact, very much not alone.  So as not to be creepy, I’ll let you in on the dirty little secret if you haven’t guessed it already.  No, it isn’t about computer chips or peeping Toms.  It’s about bacteria- and it’s all over you.  Stop freaking out.  Put the hand sanitizer down.  Actually, let’s have a moment of silence to honor all that those little critters do for us…. Because, as it turns out, we need them as much as they need us.  Maybe even more.

Ok.  That’s good.  Now, let’s begin.

One of the fastest growing areas of medical research right now is on what is known as the “microbiome”.  That’s a fancy term for all-the-stuff-that-lives-in-you-but-isn’t-you.  They live on our skin, in our gut, and in our vaginas (Sorry if you don’t have one.  I don’t mean to be exclusionist.).  In fact, our own human cells are outnumbered by bacteria 10:1.  And if you look at it from a DNA perspective (because there are a LOT of bacteria and they each have their own DNA), we are outnumbered by 100:1.  While you’re sitting on your tush reading this, there are some amazing projects happening, with large numbers of really smart people combing through data, trying to sort out what it all means.  There’s this one, funded by the National Institutes of Health.  And then there’s The American Gut Project, my personal favorite, founded by a scientist named Jeff Leach.  More on that later.

I’m not going to get into the implications of our gut microbiomes and general health.  There is much to be said about that, but it is for another day.  Today, what’s on my mind is what our “bacterial health” has to do with our ability to grow and give birth to healthy babies.

From the moment a woman conceives, the types of bacteria present in her gut and birth canal begin to change.  They continue to shift throughout the pregnancy, transitioning to be dominated by bacterial strains associated with weight gain and inflammation.  This helps the body to maximize calories to the growing baby.  And, while inflammation may not seem like a positive thing, it’s actually what throws us into labor.  If you want to stay pregnant forever, that’s your bag.  I think I’m gonna have my baby.

Further, the general line of thought has always been that the uterus is a sterile environment… that a baby’s first exposure to bacteria is on that arduous journey through the birth canal.  That, however, is being proven wrong.  A study out earlier this year found bacteria present IN THE PLACENTA.  That is a big deal.  The really mind boggling thing was the particular mixture of bacteria present- Did it resemble that of the gut?  Nope.  The vagina?  Guess again.  It was the mouth.  Imagine that.  Bacteria grows in our mouths,it gets absorbed through the capillaries in our gums or we swallow it and then It ends up in our blood streams and circulates through our systems until it winds up in the placenta.  But wait- It gets even better than that.  The bacteria found in the placenta (and mother’s mouth) most closely resemble the stuff found in the meconium, that first dark, sticky stool… more closely than any other maternal surface, including the exit route!  So much for the womb being sterile.

Generally speaking, much of the bacteria found in the placenta were the kind that produce vitamins (like B’s and K) and other cofactors.  What?  They do that?  Yep.  We feed them.  They feed us.  Except when we don’t feed them the right things.  Like getting a Mogwai wet and ending up with bazillions of nasty gremlins, the wrong kinds of food encourage the growth of nasty bacteria all throughout the digestive tract, mouth included.  When these bacteria end up in the placenta, the vagina, cervix, and eventually, the uterus- membranes rupture, babies get born- regardless of how old they are (remember that inflammation thing?).  38 weeks, 32 weeks, 26 weeks… Bacteria do not discriminate.

So, does gut flora start to be yesterday’s news as soon as the baby is born?

Heck.  No.

Though we’re not quite smart enough yet to know exactly how it happens, we do know that the proper balance of intestinal bacteria are critical for normal brain, nervous, and immune system development.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  And for mom, when we have placentas that malfunction, we’re at a higher risk later in life for things like insulin resistance or even heart disease.  This isn’t necessarily to say that your bum placenta is to blame… Much more likely that the same bacterial imbalances that caused your bum placenta are also causing your other ailments.

Getting down to brass tacks.

How can we make things go right?  It’s really not that difficult.  Our bacteria want to be good.  They really do.  Just follow a few basic rules and your chances of having a perfect baby at the perfect time go way, way up.

  • Balance your gut flora before that baby is even a twinkle in your eye.  A diet full of a wide variety of vegetable matter (starchy and nonstarchy), low in grains (they encourage growth of a bacteria associated with a multitude of disease processes), sugar, and processed foods will earn you a blue ribbon at the bacterial fair.
  • Include some bacteria in your diet.  This could be in the form of fermented foods, though you can get just as far by not washing your vegetables that well and eating some of the parts that we’re not really “supposed” to eat (like the woody ends of asparagus or the whites of scallions).  Many of the bacteria that we’re missing are found in the soil!
  • Eliminate dietary allergens.  The stress, the inflammation, the tissue damage, the nutrient deficiencies associated with immune responses to dietary allergens all make for a difficult environment for a healthy little bacteria to thrive in.
  • Minimize life stresses or find healthy ways to deal with them.  Read a book.  Do yoga.  Got outside.  Meditate.  Laugh.  Find some friends and go outside again.  Stress directly impacts our gut flora in ugly ways.
  • Avoid antimicrobial products, pharmaceutical drugs, and antibiotics.  The best defense against pathogenic bacteria is a good offense.  Period.  Follow good nutrition principles to let that microbiome blossom.  It’ll crowd the weeds right out.
  • Have a vaginal birth.  Because you’ve been on that super-diet for quite some time now, your vaginal bacteria is in tip-top shape.  Drink up, little baby.  Here’s to a lifetime of good health.  Cesarean sections are associated with all array of allergic conditions, from eczema, to asthma, to celiac disease.  That said, if a vaginal birth is just not possible, don’t beat yourself up.  There are measures that can be taken to get your little guy started on the right foot… Administering early probiotics to mom and baby, for sure- like, within hours, then even continuing them for a few months.  Research is currently even being done to assess the effect of wiping down the skin and mouths of babies delivered by c-section with gauze that has been saturated with the mother’s vaginal secretions.
  • Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed.  Not only does the baby get a dose of bacteria from your skin, but your milk is chock full of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.  That’ll set your baby’s day up straight.

 

One last little cheerleading note… The Jeff Leach study that I mentioned earlier, The American Gut Project, is asking all the right questions where our microbiome is concerned and is crowd-sourced.  They are currently collecting data so that we may inch our way closer to figuring making sense out of this stuff.  You could be a part of a new wave in medicine that revolutionizes the way we view our health.  Go to this site, contribute $99, and find out what is living in your guts.  Not sure you qualify?  Do you poop?  Then, yes.  You qualify.  C’mon.  Michael Pollan did it.

Now get out there, fix your guts up, and make a really healthy baby!

To stay connected to Meredith please visit her at nourishedtable.com

Tuesday
Oct072014

Grand Opening this Friday!!!

Friday
Sep262014

Love is the Way

I recently spoke with a close friend about a conflict I am facing and asked for his guidance.  He said, "The only way through is love."  I immediately knew in my heart that he was right.  Why is love the only way?  Because love is real. Love is the unique capacity of living beings to express through being the unity of all of creation. 

Conversely, fear and hatred result from the illusion of separateness.  Once we perceive a person or situation that we judge to be creating pain in our lives as separate from us, we manufacture a duality that gives rise to opposition and resistance.  We then feel vulnerable, threatened and weak, as we have disconnected from our true nature.  The only responses available to us from this level of consciousness are fight, flight or freeze. 

However, as Nisargadatta points out, “The real does not die, the unreal never lived.” In any given moment, we have the opportunity to align ourselves with reality or with illusion. That upon which we focus the light of our consciousness and attention grows, just as a plant grows when it receives energy from sunlight.  Today, I choose to illuminate everything I see with the light oflove from my heart.  For me, this is the only way through.

Yours in wellness and love

Joe Curcio

Thursday
Sep112014

What if I DO Mind What Happens?

Thank you for all of the feedback on last week’s article about Krishnamurti’s “not minding what happens. Today, I'd like to share a great question that I received from a patient about the article, along with my response:

How do you un-mind what you DO mind happening? For 37 years, I have NEVER minded any of my 36 moves from home to home. But this past year, after I turned 38 & was expecting a second child, and had to move my 37th time in my life, from LA to San Fran, I minded what had to happen for the first time. I DID NOT want to move. I'm slowly getting used to not minding again but in the thick of things for the last 6 months, I'm wondering, "How was I suppose to 'not mind' when I so very much minded the the changes happening at the time?"

It’s not so much that you are “supposed to" not mind what happens. A question that perhaps circuitously leads to an answer to your question is "How do the consequences of minding vs. not minding impact my life?" The truth is that “minding what happens”, which appears in the form of resistance, indignation and denial, does nothing to change the reality of the situation. Minding or not minding, the truth is that reality is as it is. When we argue with reality, we always lose. No exceptions.

The truth is also that we all experience ups and downs in life. When life presents us with a difficult situation, uncomfortable emotions tend to arise within us.  We have the opportunity to either resist or accept the emotions. However, no matter what our reaction, things are as they are.  But, to accept the emotions that arise when we have difficulty accepting a situation is in itself a form of “not minding what happens.”  Then, after moving through these feelings we can respond from a place of greater clarity. When you were forced to move for the 37th time, it is understandable that you felt resistance to the situation. I know I would have.  Can you give yourself the space to FULLY feel the emotions the move brought up for you? In my experience, when I recognize non-acceptance of some situation in my life, the cause is usually the presence of difficult emotions that I fear facing and moving through in order to arrive at a place of acceptance. Once I face these emotions, there is relief. It is hard enough to face the difficulty of being uprooted and everything that goes along with it. But when you add resistance to this, you magnify your pain. Father Anthony Demello, a Jesuit priest and another one of my favorite spiritual dudes, defined enlightenment as “cooperation with the inevitable.”

There is, however, another component to all of this. “Not minding what happens” does not suggest apathy and resignation. Those of you who know about Krishnamurti's life know that he was a radical who challenged the status quo of our society and held revolutionary ideas about how to live life. Krishnamurti was quite outspoken about his dissatisfaction with society, and led extensive humanitarian efforts to alleviate suffering and to initiate change. He did not mind what happened AND he spoke his truth AND he took action.

I don’t know the particulars of why you have had to move so many times in your life, but the pain that you experienced as a result of your last move may be a message from within urging you to find a new way of being that will influence “what happens” in a direction that requires less moving.  I invite you to set your intention for what you would like to manifest in your life. Would you like to live in one place for a long period of time and establish roots there? If so, what changes in your life situation would you need to make for this to be a possibility? Where would that be? With whom? Get as specific as you can.

By going through this exercise, you set the wheels in motion to make your intention a reality. You also identify the obstacles that currently exist in your life that prevent this intention from manifesting. The obstacles may be very concrete, such as your or your spouses occupation, or they may be more subtle and appear in the form of limiting beliefs about yourself, your loved ones and the world.

We have immense power to shape our lives in so many ways, and yet live with the paradox that we have no control over most of what happens. I find the Serenity Prayer to be of immeasurable value in helping me to cope with this reality:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I will close by reiterating what I said last week; It is a lot to expect of yourself to “not mind what happens” in every area of your life, but even a little more neutrality and a little less minding what happens may result in a lot more peace and happiness.

I urge you to be gentle with yourself.  If you are resisting, don't beat yourself up for it.  We all have tough situations we face, and sometimes it's impossible to be immediately neutral about them.  Sometimes we just need to scream about them.  Sometimes we just need to laugh about them.  In any case, you are beautiful and whole, and you deserve peace.  Be kind to yourself.

Yours in wellness,

Joe Curcio, L. Ac.

Thursday
Sep112014

September Hypnofertility Series

Are those of you trying to conceive tired of being told to stop trying so hard and let it happen? Does the word "relax" just make you cringe? How do you get to that special place that makes conception a natural, likely occurrence? 

Some of you may have heard about or experienced first-hand the power of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in resolving women’s reproductive concerns, including boosting fertility, inducing labor, turning breech babies, and regulating hormones.  However, another powerful adjunct therapy that directly addresses the mind-body component of these concerns about which you may not be aware is hypnosis.

I am pleased to announce that Johanna Nagel-Kim, certified HypnoFertility Educator and HypnoFertility Therapist, will be offering a 5 week course on Hypnofertility at Stillpoint Acupuncture beginning Tuesday, September 23 at 7:00 PM.  Johanna is a fertility and childbirth educator, with a focus on teaching using deep relaxation hypnosis to put fear aside, so that couples can conceive, birth, and parent with calm confidence.  

What is HypnoFertility?
Hypnosis is becoming one of the most sought after therapies for couples experiencing fertility issues. Hypnotherapy has been found effective compared to other types of therapies in general settings.
 
Statistics show:
  • Psychoanalysis: 38% of clients reported recovery from their conditions after 600 sessions.
  • Behavioral Therapy: 72% of clients reported recovery from their conditions after 22 sessions.
  • Hypnotherapy: 93% of clients reported success after just 6 sessions!
 
When going through a difficult experience such as trying unsuccessfully to conceive, negative thoughts, doubt, and fear can run rampant in your mind. Harnessing your energy in a positive way with HypnoFertility can change your inner soundtrack from bleak and fearful thoughts to positive affirming feelings. This change in energy has the ability to positively impact your body chemistry, making you more likely to conceive both naturally and through assisted reproductive technologies.

HypnoFertility is safe and drug free. It is a perfect accompaniment to those undergoing medical fertility treatments. Despite the great strides in medical advances related to treating infertility, statistics shows that the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other treatments is approximately 20%. HypnoFertility has the ability to significantly boost the success rate of IVF, as is illustrated by the following study.
 
A 2004 Israeli study on IVF with hypnotherapy was conducted by Professor Eliahu Levitas, and was subsequently published in the July 2004 issue of the European Society of Human Reproduction. The research found that hypnosis can double the success rate of IVF. The study, which tracked 185 women, found that the success rate of IVF in the test group rose from 14% to 28%, when the women underwent hypnosis during IVF implantation.
 
Additional studies have been conducted which show the correlation of mind/body activities improving the likelihood of conceiving naturally. In 1999, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association found that 42% of 132 infertile women who completed a mind/body program became pregnant within six months after the program finished. A study in 2000, which was published in Fertility and Sterility, found that 55% of infertile women who participated in a mind/body program conceived, as compared to 20% of the infertile women in the control group who did not participate in the program.
 
HypnoFertility Group Series
This powerful series consists of five sessions of approximately 2.5 hours each.

As a bonus, each couple who enrolls in this series will receive one complimentary acupuncture session at Stillpoint!
 
Did you know that stress can reduce your chances of conception?
When we experience stress, our bodies produce the stress hormone, Cortisol, which can inhibit the implantation of a fertilized ovum, delay ovulation and reduce the number and motility of sperm. Your daily stress levels may be hurting your ability to conceive the child you desire.
 
HypnoFertility teaches you to release fears and stress and improves your chance of conceiving.
 
Research shows that using a mind-body program, like HypnoFertility, when undergoing IVF can double the success rate of conceiving!* HypnoFertility is also very successful when a couple is naturally trying to conceive without medical procedures.
 
According to research, 42% of women became pregnant within six months after learning mind-body techniques, such as HypnoFertility.**
 
This class can be used as a standalone program for those wishing to conceive naturally or it can be used in conjunction with medical fertility treatments.
 
This class consists of detailed information related to boosting fertility, deep relaxation hypnosis to release stress and reprogram the mind and body to prepare for a successful pregnancy.
 
Pre-conception hypnosis can be used as a standalone program for those wishing to conceive naturally or it can be used in conjunction with medical fertility treatments.

Our unprecedented hypnotherapy program does more than just relax you while in session. You’ll learn to easily find that relaxed state that opens the door to conception whether natural or medically assisted.

  • Register before September 1st September 15th and receive a $50 discount on your class!
  • Register at the same time with another couple and receive an additional $50 discount!
 
Yours in radiant health,
Joe Curcio, L. Ac.
 
* American Society of Reproductive Medicine
** Journal of American Women's Medical Association