One of the biggest new topics in health and wellness over the last decade has centered around the subject of probiotics and a healthy microbiome. I personally find this subject exciting and facinating because it a crossroads where medical science and traditional customs overlap.
A microbiome refers to the "community of microorganisms" that resides in and on all multi-cellular organisms. A microbiome is made up of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses that maybe commensal, symbiotic or pathogenic individually but collectively establish a sybiotic relationship with the host to maintain homeostatis - a fancy way of saying "in balance". Recent studies have shown the microbiome plays a significant role in maintaining hormonal, metabolic and immunological homeostasis (balance) in the body. Now doctors are linking damaged microbiomes with conditions including inflamatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, type II diabetes, immune cell development and maturation, allergies and even autism.
While the microbiome is generally stable within individuals over time, the composition can be altered due to external factors - one major factor being antibiotic use. Antibiotics have a profound effects on the microbiome. We know overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria that can hide in our gut. Now there is a growing body of compelling evidence showing the microbiome undergoes major alterations in terms of which individual microorganisms remain and what percentage of the microbiome they comprise.
Although the particular affects of repeated antibiotic use vary among individuals, it is clear that some microbiomes do not recover - even months after treatment. In general there is a long-term decrease in bacterial diversity in the gut, and this altered microbiome composition reduces the the micorbiome's ability to resist colonization of foreign microbes. The balance of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic organisms is lost giving way to permanent changes to the structure of the microbiome. Further studies have been able to identified specific differences in microbiome composition in patients according to specific ailments. For example, early colonization with lactobacillus lpp is correlated with a decrease in allergy symptoms.
The term probiotic is often used to refer to dietary supplements consisting of "live microorganisms" for the purpose of adding healthy microbes to your microbiome. While probiotic supplements have flooded the shelves of health food stores recently, probiotic-rich foods are actually nothing new. Humans have a long history of preparing fermented, probiotic rich foods if you look closely at traditional methods of food preparation.
Most folks are familiar with fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and cheese. When prepared traditionally, these foods each employ a specific microorganism to ferment milk and are thus loaded with beneficial microorganisms. Unfortunately manufactured dairy products often use so many additives to sweeten and augment texture that store bought versions often become a nutritional wash out.
Pickled foods like kimchi, sour kraut, and pickles made without vinegar are also probiotic foods - typically using lactobacillus, a ubiquitous anaerobic bacteria to preserve vegetables. It creates that signature pickled sour flavor without added vinegar. Again, efforts to standardize flavor and create shelf stability often circumvent the fermentation process thus eliminating the probiotic benefits of these foods when purchased in stores.
Even sour dough breads are probiotic, using a "proof" or a live colony of microorganisms to raise the dough rather than yeast. Of course preservatives and long times in transportation and on store shelves limits the probiotic benefits of store bought versions of these foods. In my opinion, one of the biggest factors why European countries who maintain the practice of eating freshly baked sour dough breads do not see the issues with gluten sensitivity is because their bread is fresh and still probiotic rich. In the US, most bread for sale is old, preserved, and essentially "dead".
Fermented probiotic rich drinks have been around throughout history - beer, wine, liquors, ginger brew, root beer, kombucha, and tabicos are all beverages that utilize fermentation to produce flavor, alcohol and bubbles. Of course alcohol which comes from a longer fermentation process, will generally reduce the health benefits from alcoholic probiotic beverages. Traditionally made ginger brew and root beer were fermented spiced and herbed drinks, carbonated by the gases produced in the fermentation process. Modern soft drinks are not fermented - instead they use carbonic acid to create bubbles, cutting out the probiotics and a increasing the acidity of the beverage.
Miso, natto, sake and amazake are traditional Japanese fermented foods that use Koji (aspergillum oryzae) as the fermenting agent. While Japanese producers are much better at preserving the probiotic benefits of their traditionally fermented foods, it is crucial to pay attention to temperature when preparing them. For example, miso should not be made in water hotter than 195 degrees - or you will kill the koji with heat. This means miso soup should never be made with boiling water, which is at least 212 degrees.
It is my strong personal belief that probiotic foods are better than probiotic supplements. After all, if the point is to populate your gut with live microorganisms, how alive can they really be after months in a refrigerator or on a store shelf? Unfortunately these days, most city and suburban folks have lost the kitchen skills to prepare and maintain probiotic rich fermented foods. While not overly complex, fermenting foods does require some knowledge and practiced skill. But with a little practice, you can be making your own versions of probiotic rich foods to maintain a healthy microbiome.
In an effort to spread and maintain the knowledge and skills around fermenting foods, I will begin to share my experiences with making probiotic rich, traditionally prepared foods with you. I hope to inspire your love to probiotic foods too!
You may notice a new face when you arrive for your next appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays! I am so excited to announce the arrival of a new addition to the Manhattan Sports Acupuncture team – Itorye Silver, LAc.
Itorye is a recent graduate of Yo San University in Southern California where she earned a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as additional certifications in Tui Na (Chinese massage) and Tai Chi Instruction. With a background in geology and education, Itorye brings with her a helpful spirit and a curious mind.
You can expect Itorye to welcome you when you arrive at the office. She will get you set up in your treatment room, so please feel free to share any information pertinent to your treatment. And after your treatment, Itorye take care of payment and scheduling. Itorye's help will free me up to spend more time with each of you on the treatment table while making sure I can help each and every one of you when you need me. In addition, Itorye will be assisting me in the treatment room as well - giving me an extra pair of hands!!!
I hope you are as excited as I am! We look forward to seeing you soon!
Introducting our new online calendar
Some of you might remember when I first started using an online calendar service - to be completely honest, at the time I was really nervous. What if something went wrong and my schedule gets messed up? What if I'm over scheduled or underscheduled? What if my patients hate it? So many worries! Well, it actually turned out to be a great relieft for me and seems like it is a convience for most of you!
For those of you that didn't find the online calendar useful, it seemed to be a Visibook issue. In hopes to rectify this, I've started working with a new calendar provider. Now you can view, book and manage your appointments by simply going to the "Book Appointments" page at www.ManhattanSportsAcupuncture.com.
You can also save and use this link to go to my patient portal page directly: https://ManhattanSportsAcupuncture.as.me/
Below I have provided a step-by-step walk through the new calendar system. I hope this gives you a good idea of what the new system looks like and how to navigate through it.Some. Please let me know if you have an questions or comments.
Calendar Walk Through
1. Go to www.ManhattanSportsAcupuncture.com and click on the Book Appointments tab.
2. Click on 1 Hour Appt. If you want to book a longer appointment, please email or text appointments@ManhattanSportsAcupuncture.com or 347-948-3533 directly to arrange this.
3. Click on Any available.
4. Choose the date you would like to come in, using the navigation buttons at the top of the calendar. Once you have found the day you want, click on the time you want to come in.
5. Once you click on the time you want, a drop down box will appear. Click on Continue
6. Fill out the form completely.
7. Click on Complete Appointment.
8. You will see a final confirmation of your appointment. You can even have it added to your iCal/Outlook/Google calendars. You can also register for an account too. This will allow you to confirm, reschedule, and cancel your appointments. Just click on Register for an Account
9. You can also sign-in to your account on the very first page, just click on Log in
10. Once you sign-in, you will be able to see all of your upcoming and past appointments.
Play with the calendar a little bit and please don't hesitate to let me know of any glitches you come across. Look forward to seeing you soon!
The Non-surgical Face Lift
Facial rejuvination acupuncture is a specific type of acupuncture treatment focused on improving the condition and appearance of the face and complexion. Often referred to as a "non-surgical" facelift, this type of treatment uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine to specially improve circulation, moisture, radiance and muscle tone.
In recent years, facial rejuviantion acupuncture has become more popular as people are looking for non-surgical, non-invasive options to improve their appearance. So far, a few styles of facial rejuvination acupuncture have become more readily available in the US.
However these styles have not been very compelling to me. They often claim visible results require at least 10 sessions; they often require a lot of needles to be inserted in the face - and you know when I say they are using a lot of needles, they are using a lot of needles; and currently these types of treatments are often provided in a beauty salon type setting, which for me is not sterile enough for acupuncture. For these and other reasons, I had not pursued adding these services to my practice.
Then in the spring of this year, I had the opportunity to learn from master practitioner Ooasa Sensei (Ooasa is her name, sensei is the title for a teacher) while studying abroad in Kyoto, Japan.
Ooasa Sensei's style of facial rejuvination treatment is quick, efficient, and produced visibly noticable results immediately in the face of our beautiful 24 year young lady who volunteered to be our class model. I honestly didn't think anything meaningful could be done because she is so young and has beautiful skin. However, after a quick demonstration - not even a full treatment, our class model's facial shape became more symetrical, areas of swelling reduced, and her complexion became more even and luminous. And I was sold.
Now you can experience Ooasa-style facial rejuvination at Manhattan Sports Acupuncture.
Here are a few examples of before and after pictures from my class in Kyoto and some pictures of my lovely friends. (Thank you for permission to use your photos!!)
A few helpful notes about booking a facial rejuvination treatment...
You might have noticed a range of new products available on the market touting health benefits from an infusion of CBD. Based on my own research and experimention, I have decided to start using a CBD infused massage oil in my own work. Of course anyone can request non-CBD oil and I am more than happy to accomodate you. However, before you opt-out of CBD, why not learn a little more about it?
In order for you to make an informed decision, I have pulled to together some information about CBD generally and about the massage oil I now have in my practice.
What is CBD?
CBD is Cannabidiol, a compound derived from Cannabis. CBD has been shown in clinical studies to effectively treat several conditions. These conditions include:
Will CBD intoxicate me?
Unlike THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is not pyscho-active and does not cause the lethergy or diphoria associated with Cannabis use.
Due to the various legal statuses of cannabis in different parts of the US, products that include both THC and CBD can be found on the market. Patients who do not want to experience the effects of THC should take care and look for products with CDB only - which is legal nationally.
Will CBD cause me to fail a drug screening test?
Fortunately, the urine drug screening for THC is known to have very little cross-reactivity to CBD which is good news for "normal" consumers of CBD products. That said, individuals using unusually large doses of CBD (above 1,000 mg/day) could theoretically test positive during the initial urianary screening. In this case, a confirmatory test can determine presence of THC specifically.
What should I know about the CBD massage oil you use?
The brand I am currently using is CBD Clinic Analgesic Massage Oil Level 3. This FDA-registered massage oil combines topical anagesics with CDB formulated to faciliate deeper and faster absorption of pain-relieveing compounds. These compounds penetrate pain receptors in the body to interrupt pain signals. Level 3 is formulated with organic Jojoba seed oil infused with menthol 15% and camphor 5% and CBD-rich hemp oil.
Why are you including CBD massage oil in your practice?
There are three main reasons I have decided to include CBD topical oils in my practice. First, almost all of my patients are dealing with one or multiple issues related to inflammation, pain or anxiety - based on my research, I think nearly all would benefit from the effects of topical CBD oil use. Secondly, use of CBD will also help patients manage the post-treatment soreness that comes from trigger point release. Finally, a reduction in anxiety will help patients' nervouse systems enter a parasympathetic state, working synergistically with the acupuncture to speed healing and reduce pain.
As always, I will continue to seek out and research the best tools to help you accomplish your goals.
Office blog & newsletter for Manhattan Sports Acupuncture. Striving to be a source of information on health, fitness and medicine.
Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor. Humanitarian, lifelong student and advocate for health, happiness and life.