Insomnia

Photograph by Charlyce Davis

 

It’s only 2am….

You’re already awake…

… And your reading this blog thinking …I need to sleep tonight

So you lay there, wishing for sleep.

Then it’s 3am

Then it’s 4am.

As you finally drift off to sleep….your alarm goes off, letting you know your day is about to start, sleep or not..

Insomnia. Oh lovely blessing of long, endless nights. If your finishing an amazing novel you may not mind taking 2-3 hours to get to sleep. If your next day is demanding or high stakes such as a job interview, you need the rest.

Insomnia is a BIG topic in my clinic. My personal estimation is that nearly ⅓ of patients that I see suffer from insomnia. The prevalence of insomnia disorder is approximately 10-20%, with approximately 50% having a chronic course.¹

Insomnia is defined as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting up too early.

Sleep is frequently disrupted at some point in our lives. Most humans will experience sleep disruption from either a self imposed cause (due to schedule changes, wanting to be productive, socializing) or from an external cause (a new baby). While it’s not ideal, most of us will be okay with one or two nights of short sleep as long as we can get to bed within a few nights.

I have personally dealt with sleep issues. During my residency, overnight call in the hospital meant a few hours of sleep, and possibly no sleep at all. Later, after a stressful breakup I frequently found myself waking up hours earlier than I needed. I know the terrible brain fog patients speak of when you need to be at your best but you can’t be.

When most patients tell me about the insomnia they are suffering, they typically have had either insomnia one month of severely interrupted sleep, a chronic course of poor quality sleep, or a several years long history of frequent bouts of poor sleep.

Thanks to development of prescription sleep aids with great marketing material, including beautiful butterflies drifting you off to sleep,

Photograph by Charlyce Davis

 

most patient anticipate that once they tell the physician they can’t sleep, they will be prescribed a medication that will eliminate the problem. Many patients are surprised that once they discuss their insomnia with me, I’m likely not to write a prescription.

Why would I avoid writing a prescription for a real medical issue? Medical research has shown that the best treatment for insomnia is behavioral treatment. The ACP recommends that all adult patients receive cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), as the initial treatment for chronic insomnia disorder². Furthermore, “many medications used regularly and long term for insomnia disorders have an FDA indication only for short-term, as-needed use, in part because hypnotics are associated with dementia, fracture, major injuries, and possibly cancer.”³

One of my aims with this blog is to take an honest look at health. Insomnia is one of the topics that I feel somewhat hypocritical due to the pressures and time constraints of modern health practice. Patients present to me with insomnia, and for years, I treated their insomnia completely differently from how I treated my own insomnia. I’m so happy to have this venue to spend more time on this important topic.

Over the next several post, I’m going to cover the topic of insomnia in more detail. I’m hoping that my blog as well as other sources can start to shift the conversation from insomnia as a condition that requires a multicomponent solution. Thank you so much for visiting my blog, and please stop by soon on my next entry on insomnia.

1.   Buysse DJ.   Insomnia. JAMA. 2013 Feb 20;309(7):706-16. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.193. Review.
2.  Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Adults: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine,165(2), 125. doi:10.7326/m15-2175
3. Wilt, T. J. (n.d.). Pharmacologic Treatment of Insomnia Disorder. Annals of Internal Medicine.

Asthma and Hay Fever Linked to Increased Risk of Psychiatric Disorders — Neuroscience News Updates and Mind/Body Connection

According to researchers, suffering from asthma or hay fever may put you at an increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. The study reports over a 15 year period, 10.8% of people with allergies developed psychiatric disorders, compare to 6.7% of people without allergic diseases.

via Asthma and Hay Fever Linked to Increased Risk of Psychiatric Disorders — Neuroscience News Updates

This article appeared in my feed and I find it very fascinating. I thought I might use this in my own blog as a way to start introducing the logistics of the Mind-Body Connection.

Pathophysiology of Allergies (Allergic Rhinitis)

I see patients with some form of allergies throughout most of the day. This should be no surprise since allergic rhinitis is “the most common chronic disease in the United States, affect[ing]  between 10 and 30% of adults and up to 40% of children”¹.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis start at Mast Cells;

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Mast Cells are an important part of the immune system that also play a role in allergies.  Mast Cells are equipped with receptors for antigens (a signal to the immune system that an invader is within the body).    Someone that has allergies produces antibodies  (IgE) which function to tag antigens as they enter the body.  An antigen tagged with IgE circulating in the blood stream will land on a mast cell, causing the mast cell to launch its weapons (histamine, cytokines and other inflammatory  chemicals),  These chemicals will land in the nasal passage, sinuses, and lungs leading to allergy symptoms.

Energy Imbalance leading to Allergic Rhinitis

One of my favorite books is by Margaret Ann Lembo’s Chakra Awakening. This is one of the first books I read when I became curious about energy medicine. This is a wonderful starter for anyone who is wanting to learn about the Chakra system, and as well as using  essential oils and crystals as part of their healing routine. I have adapted a chart from her book which summarizes each Chakra’s function, and how imbalances show up. I use this chart personally when I’m working with energy medicine and for myself and find it to be a very handy tool in energy medicine.

Chakra Chart from Margaret Ann Lembo’s Chakra Awakening

Chakra Chart from Mary Ann Lembo (1)

When I first started learning about the Chakra system, I was fascinated with how blockages within a Chakra could contribute to disease. Chakras comes from Ayurveda, and I think of it as anatomical representation of energy centers within the body.

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Media by LordtNIS

Most people suffer allergies in their noses, sinuses, eyes, ears, throat and sometimes chest. Symptoms of allergies are usually runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, sinus pain and pressure. These organs are within the throat, third eye, and crown chakra. These organ are also associated with psychological dysfunction, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Additionally, allergies are generated within the body when the immune system becomes overactive. Knowing that these energy centers correlate with our physical and emotional health, it would be expected that a person suffering from allergies is likely at increased risk of a psychological issues.  In particular, if an individual is feeling like they can’t express themselves (blocked throat chakra) they may be particularly prone to allergies.

There are a number of ways to handle allergies.

Over the Counter Medications:

Naturally I’ll have to remind readers to consult with their personal physician if you are suffering from allergies. Most people can tolerate antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra very well. The addition of a nasal steroid such as Fluticasone (Flonase) can also help to control symptoms.

Anyone suffering from severe symptoms, such as a rash or wheezing needs to consult with their physician.

Reiki for Allergies:

If you are already  Reiki  attuned, you can simply treat your sinuses.  Consider treating the neck and chest.  Your Reiki manual  from your attunement is also a good resource for a treatment sequence.

If you are considering seeking Reiki to treat allergies, you may opt for a shorter session, but understanding that a combination of stress and chemical cascades are leading to your  symptoms, you may be due for a full Reiki session.

Essential Oils to use:

Anyone with experience using essential oils to support their health can attest to how wonderful they can be to relieve symptoms.  There is simply no better pleasure than your first whiff of Breath from DoTerra when your suffering from allergies.

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DoTerra offers a wonderful line of products that can be used for allergies, and are good for colds, or to augment your meditation.  The essential oil  comes in a 15ml or a roller bottle, and either one is excellent.  A drop or two on your chest of neck quickly alleviates symptoms.  Consider a patch test on your inner arm before using routinely.  Of course, Breathe is amazing in a diffuser.

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dōTERRA Breathe® Vapor Stick

The vapor stick is neat, clean and ready to go.  You can quickly apply some to you chest or neck to soothe your sinuses.

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The dōTERRA Breathe® Respiratory Drops are my personal favorite cough drops.  You get all of the benefits of the oils without concern of others being affects by your essential oil use.  You will still get the cooling sensation in your sinus passages that is wonderful.

You can find more information on essential oils here.

 

1. Goldman, L., & Schafer, A. I. (2016). Goldman-Cecil medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders.

What Happens During a Reiki Session

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If you have chosen to pursue Reiki as a treatment likely your Reiki Practitioner has advised you on how to prepare. If you are still wondering if you should try it, I would like to address what to happens before, during, and after a Reiki session.

The day of your appointment, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothing. Similar to having a massage, it is usually best to wear something you’ll be comfortable laying down in for about an hour. I recommend carrying water with you. Your Reiki healer likely will have refreshments but it’s good to have something for your trip home. Because you’ll be laying down for several minutes, I would avoid eating a heavy meal.

Reiki Practitioners are very accomodating, so you have have special circumstances, you only need to let your practitioner know. In my clinic, we can accomodate for someone in a wheelchair or who has physical limitations that won’t let them lie on a table.

Once you arrive, you’ll be shown to the space you’ll receive your treatment. We use an exam room in my clinic that’s quieter than our other spaces.

The first few minutes I like to have clients complete a form that I can use for record the visit. I also like to talk for a few minutes prior to starting. One of the things I love with Reiki is that clients do not need to reveal more than they are comfortable with sharing. The treatment is intuitive, and even if a client wants to share nothing with me, I can still treat them effectively. I found in my years of practice, many patients have been traumatized by the healthcare system. Sometimes simply reviewing the timeline and details of an illness can be traumatizing in itself. We can proceed with a Reiki session with a lot of information or none at all.

Reiki can be channeled with direct touch or by simply hovering the hands over the area. This depends on what the client is most comfortable with. Depending on life experience, many people are not comfortable being touched and this is perfectly fine. Reiki is effective hands on or hands off.

Once the session begins, the practitioner will position their hands over an area of the body and leave them there for at least a few minutes.

My experience with with patients and clients is that throughout the session, the person will become progressively more relaxed. Some enter a meditative state. Most are deeply relaxed with very little tension in their bodies. Some clients will have a release of pent up emotions, so may feel a need to cry or even laugh. But every experience is individual. The same person may have a different experience with each Reiki session.

Once the session is complete, I like to let clients have a few minutes of quiet to center themselves. After the session, if the client likes, we can discuss their experience.

I typically advise everyone after a session to try not to schedule any rigorous activities. If you have things you must accomplish, try to plan so that you don’t have to do too much as you’ll need to rest.

I hope this description is helpful for anyone considering this healing modality. I hope you’ll try it if you haven’t. If you have already experienced Reiki, you should continue, and maybe become healer.

Thank you for visiting.

Past Life Meditation

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I frequently discuss meditation  at work and in my personal life.  This post is for those that are comfortable with meditation.

I recently started using Insight Timer  in my cell phone.  I discovered a past life meditation that was an amazing experience.

I recommend this meditation for those that are comfortable with meditation.  This is a longer session, around 1 hour.  The meditation will guide you through a deep relaxation then onto a past life.

My personal experience was unexpected.  I discovered many things about myself, including why I love astronomy in this life.

I hope others will try it as well.

Past Life Meditation

Doctor, my friend told me I should drink apple cider vinegar to lower my blood pressure

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“Doctor, my friend told me I should drink apple cider vinegar to lower my blood pressure, is that true?”

I get this question about once per week. Here is my confession: I cringe when I get this question. Until doing some research for this post, I had no idea if it’s a good idea to drink apple cider vinegar for health.

I first heard about taking apple cider vinegar from one of my patients when I started practice 10 years ago. I trained in internal medicine. Like most physicians I received no formal training in complementary remedies. We receive very little training in nutrition as well. After learning Reiki, and developing a real sense of holistic care, I have started taking an interest in tying diet into my recommendations.

I have been aware of patients doing this remedy, but if a patient needs treatment for something like high blood pressure or diabetes, I will recommend appropriate medical treatment, which may include some changes in nutrition.

I did a search on two of my favorite sources for information. In a previous post, I discussed consults from Dr. Google. Search engines are amazing, but when it comes to information on health related topics, I want to make sure my source is safe and trusted. If my information source is commercial, I want to understand what they are selling and why.

I rely on PubMed to search journal articles. This website is open to everyone, but the information is coming from research articles and geared towards other researchers so the information is not written for consumers. I was able to find about 6 articles addressing health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

One of my other favorite sources is Nutrition Facts which is a great source of information and is non-commercial. I was able to find several relevant video post on this topic there.

Here is a brief summary of what I found.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

“…vinegar ingestion appears to enhance sugar disposal by lowering insulin resistance, which is the cause of type 2 diabetes, and indeed, vinegar ingestion does appear to improve the action of insulin in diabetics.” ¹

Apple Cider Vinegar may help with blood sugar  control in diabetics, but for many of my patients, there will be so many other health interventions we need to address, I’m not likely to make this recommendation.

Risks of Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV [apple cider vinegar] exhibited toxicity even at concentrations as low as 0.7%²

This particular study found that apple cider vinegar can kill yeast, but even in a very diluted form, could prove harmful to living cells.

Esophageal burns have been caused by use of vinegar tablets (also see http://www.nutritionfacts.org)

There are likely thousands of online posts concerning the benefits of apple cider vinegar. I’m thankful that I’ve had a chance to decide how I will advise patients. There likely is some benefit to apple cider vinegar, but to be on the safe side, it’s probably best to use it as a condiment, and avoid consuming it by itself. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, it won’t likely replace your current medication.

Thanks for visiting. I am so thankful that this blog is giving me space to dig deeper into these kind of issues.

Also, I welcome comments if there is any topic you would like me to address.

 

  1.  https://nutritionfacts.org/video/vinegar-mechanisms-side-effects/
  2. Gopal J, Anthonydhason V, Muthu M, Gansukh E, Jung S, Chul S, Iyyakkannu S. Authenticating apple cider vinegar’s home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. Nat Prod Res. 2017 Dec 11:1-5.

Coffee Is the Best Drink…

Next to water, Coffee is the best drink, literally.  I came across this excellent study this morning:

 

I love coffee.  I come from a coffee drinking family, so for us, getting out of bed without a cup of coffee means someone must be getting a surgery.  Coffee has been noted recently to have many health benefits, but literally, drinking coffee reduces your chance of dying.  

The study mentions that decaf has a health benefit for those that don’t want caffeine.

I like my coffee with cream or any milk, or black.  Sometimes I add one drop of doTERRA Cinnamon Bark to add flavor and an extra metabolism boost.

Thanks for visiting, got grab yourself of coffee.

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I am a Doterra wellness advocate, and I’m happy to answer any questions about getting started with essential oils.  More information can be found here.

Depletion and your physical body

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

I am still learning the ropes of blogging. As a doctor I discuss depletion most days. Here is my quick thoughts on how a depletions shows up.

Water Depletion:

Signs of Water Depletion:

Headache

Dry mouth

Muscle aches

Fatigue

Bladder spasms (feeling like you have a bladder infection when you don’t)

Remedy:

Sipping on more water throughout the day.

Potassium Depletion:

Signs of potassium depletion

Muscle cramps

Fatigue

Poor sleep quality

Remedy

Consume any citrus, mango, or and vegetable regularly throughout the day

Magnesium Depletion:

Signs of Depletion

Generalized pain

Constipation

Remedy

Eat more beans or legumes

Sleep Depletion (Sleep Deprived)

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Poor memory

Poor focus

Anxiety

Depression

Remedy

A power nap

Start evening routine 15 minutes earlier

Depletion of Stillness

Signs of a depletion of stillness

Insomnia

Feeling rushed

Rapid breathing

Remedy

Starting meditation

Stop and smell the flowers

Say no to one task today

This is a very quick list and by no means all inconclusive.

I have been inspired by so many other bloggers since starting my blog. Thank you so much for reading.

My Journey to Reiki/How Reiki Found Me

My experience with Reiki is what lead me to start this blog.  As I’ve been composing my thoughts, and trying to decide what content I should post about Reiki, I forgot I should share my story of how Reiki found me.

I read a beautiful post  at My Journey to Reiki that reminded me that as excited as I am about Reiki, I should remember why I am so passionate about Reiki.

I found Reiki through yoga.  I had started practicing yoga in my home while in medical school.  Due to time and finances, it would be over 10 years before I attended an actual yoga studio.  A very dear friend of mine told me about Yoga Home of Therapeutics  and the owner Sara Alavi.  I went to my first class after a devastating break up.  I was emotionally distraught and suffering from burnout at work .  I attended yoga class with Sara for a few years.  After a wonderful class, she told me she was teaching a Reiki class and I might like it.

Attending yoga at the studio had done so much for me that I didn’t even hesitate to sign up.  After signing up, I forgot to research what Reiki is, and when I arrived for my Reiki 1 attunement, I had no idea what to expect.

My experience during my first attunement was like nothing I had experienced.  Keep in mind, if you decide to take a course in Reiki, everyone’s experience is individual, and every experience is beautiful.  I assumed prior to the attunement that only gifted individuals could see auras, or have empathic abilities.  As I felt the internal changes of the attunement, I didn’t realize that soon I would feel some of the same.

As a physician, I’m used to interacting with people.  I am used to dealing with people when times are good, when they are bad, when they are scary and sad.  I’ve always tried to approach patient care with the “Golden Rule”, do onto others…

After my Reiki 1 attunement, I was so happy to have this tool to heal myself.  I still had a lot of sadness, and my pressure at work was ever increasing.  I felt that Reiki would be a wonderful addition to my self care tool box.

So when I saw my first patients after my first attunement,  I was completely shocked that I was seeing something.  Every patient had a glow.  They were all different, and constantly changing.  I didn’t always see  this with every patient.  My left brain, traditionally trained physician brain sought a rational explanation.

After many exhaustive Google searches (yes, even when I prefer my patients not to consult Dr. Google) I started to understand this glow was the patient’s aura, or subtle body.  I continued to treat myself with Reiki on many days, sometimes just for a few minutes, and as time passed, I became more comfortable with this new sensitivity.

Seeing auras is wonderful, but like with any new tool, I am still learning when to work with this.  I did notice my empathy was increased.  As I saw patients, I could listen to their stories in a much more clear manner.  I could sense their suffering beyond what the labs and x-rays told me.  I could hear better why they came to see me.   Although I had intended for Reiki for my own healing, it was already helping my patients.

My Reiki level 1 and 2 training were wonderful, and for the next year, I wasn’t sure I would pursue more training.   I was very fortunate to discover Kelly Schwegel  as a guest speaker on a podcast.  I scheduled  a healing session with her and eventually became a member of  Kelly’s Inner Wisdom Circle.  Kelly  holds Reiki certifications through the Inner Wisdom circle and I was able to get my attunement for Reiki 3 and Reiki Master.

Some very cool things have happened since I embraced Reiki.  I love that I can sense auras, or that I can tap into my intuition when I’m working with a patient with a difficult diagnosis.  The self healing I have with Reiki is why I hope readers will become attuned to Reiki.  There are so many ways Reiki infuses itself into your life.  Its a wonderful meditation to perform Reiki on yourself as you fall asleep.  Or to send Reiki to a future situation like a family member’s upcoming surgery.  Or to send REiki to yourself in the past during a loss of a loved one.

My hope is that if you are wondering if you should let Reiki find you, you will.  You may go on to be a Reiki Master with a full practice.  Or maybe you Reiki will help you put your baby to sleep at night.  But if you are wondering if you should sign  up for that Reiki class…you should  There is nothing to lose, and love to gain.

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s and diet

One of my favorite sources of information on nutrition and health is Nutrition Facts. I have followed Dr. Greger’s work for many years. I find his advice is so easy to apply. Dr. Greger addresses one of the most important aspects of health….nutrition.

[Moan…groan…yawn…start to fantasize about favorite junk food].

I like my chocolate too.

Anyway here’s an excellent video on diet and brain health. Many patients often ask me how to keep their memories intact. Diet plays a very important role.

Alzheimer’s and Diet

Okay stop whining and get some broccoli 🥦🥒🥒🌶🥑🥝🥥🍇🍈🍉😊

World Peace Card Meditations

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Every month  The International Center for Reiki Training  sends a monthly reminder for a World Peace Meditation if you are a subscriber (which is free).  This meditation is very simple, and has many benefits.  You can find the World Peace Meditation summary and instructions here:

World Peace Card Meditations

The idea is that if many of us meditate, we create a healing wave of energy that travels the planet.  The meditation requires only 15 minutes of your time, and you’ll personally feel the wave of energy.

 

Namaste,

Charlyce