Japan

It took me more than 30 hours and six movies, but here I am safe and sound in Kyoto, Japan. I've never been to Asia and everything is very different from what I've seen in other countries. Before starting the Japanese acupuncture training I had 2 days to walk around and be a tourist.

I've seen a couple of temples, the Philosopher's Path, some shrines, cherry bloosoms, their architecture, malls, residential areas and of course geishas. People are friendly and very polite, most of them don't speak any English but you can still get around if you do your homework, have a map and just show them where you want to go. We walked an entire day around Kyoto, had some green tea cake and yudzu icecream, browsed the stores and bought made in Japan gifts.

I'll come back next week with more details but until then enjoy the pictures.

Cherry Blossoms

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Surviving a Long Flight

Week 10 is almost over and so are midterms. Some of us are packing for Japan and some of us are planning for a spring break trip to China organized by NUHS.

IulianaFlight to Japan or China is roughly about 15 hours if you're lucky and have a nonstop one. If you stop somewhere in Europe or Canada, it's going to be about 20 hours. It is a long flight and it can get uncomfortable very fast. I've been flying back home to Romania for the last 12 years and I still feel a bit tired at the end of the flight.

How do I keep myself healthy while flying? 

I'm sure you all know that first you have to keep yourself hydrated. I hate ice water and I always carry my pouch water bottle with me and make sure I fill it with the best water I can find in the airport. Yes, I'll probably pay more, but I prefer to drink good water and not something that will taste like chlorine! If I have enough space in my overnight bag I'll buy a couple of water bottles or some fresh squeezed juice depending on what you can find around your gate. At O'Hare airport I'm always happy if I'm close to Frontera so I can have fresh squeezed juice and some good food.

Long flights mean very dry skin, poor feet circulation, red and itchy eyes, and so on… So, I'll have some compression socks, homeopathic eye drops and facial toner, layers, travel-size blanket, foldable tote (think Longchamp but the search on Amazon will show you totes that look exactly the same and are so much cheaper!), a pair of foldable flats, and a change of clothes (including undies). 

Trying to describe all the things I have in my overnight bag (which just sits on top of my carry on) I realized I have so many things! I'll just give you my list and you choose whatever you feel is more important to you:

  • Homeopathic products: Cocculus (most important for jetlag), Nux vomica, Borax, Tabacum, Apis, Kali phos, Belladona, Arnica gel, and pellets.
  • Facial toner: I have one with Chamomile and Blue Cornflower but you can choose even Rosewater and you'll be fine.
  • Sanitizers: I have a liquid one and a bunch of different hand and facial wipes.
  • Supplements: digestive enzymes, digestive bitters, nettle capsules, vitamin C, omegas, trace minerals, electrolytes, throat drops, ear seeds and some immunity herbs, a couple of travel-size essential oils bottles.
  • Travel-size: deodorant, hand lotion, breath refresher, perfume, very small jar of coconut oil, toothpaste, facial cleanser, lip balm, soap. I don't usually put make-up on for such a long flight because at the end of the flight, it will all be gone and my face will still be very dry no matter what. If you need to look your best after you leave the airport pack some concealer, some moisturizing foundation, lip gloss, and blush, and it should be enough.
  • A bunch of tea and coffee packets: I love nettle and peppermint tea and the coffee that has immunity mushrooms in it.
  • Electronics and other things: iPad, iPhone, Kindle, a hard cover book, ear plugs, sleep mask, retractable cable lock, pillow, camera, universal charger, headphones. If you have to study or work on your computer by all means take advantage of the time and do the work. The time will fly faster and you won't get the chance to get bored.
  • Food: protein powder packets, some bars, almonds and cashews, bananas, etc. I don't worry too much about food because I know my body will crave the water and not the food. Most of the times I prefer to choose my own food and I usually go for the vegan or fruit-only choices. If you're flying economy, no matter the airline, food is not going to be very good, so pack accordingly to your food preferences. Remember, you are allowed to bring food with you. I also bring with me travel-size sea salt and spices. Restrictions apply only to liquids!

Hope this list will make your trips and flights smoother and more enjoyable!

 

Iridology

If you've been following my blog, you probably know by now that I really like to have as many tools as I can in my practice toolbox. I might be doing a Master's in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, but I definitely don't focus only on this type of medicine. One of my "tools" for diagnosis in my future practice will be Iridology.

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What is Iridology and how did it start?

By definition, Iridology is the science where the practitioner can tell the reflex condition of various organs of the body from the markings in the iris of the eye. "It can determine acute, sub-acute, chronic, and destructive stages in the affected organs of the body through their corresponding areas in the iris." - Dr. Bernard Jensen, DC

History says that Iridology was discovered by Dr. Ignatz von Peczely of Egervar (Hungary) quite by accident when he was about 10 years old. While playing with an owl, he happened to break one of its legs. He also happened to notice the appearance of a dark stripe in the lower region of the bird's iris. Eventually, while the bird was healing, the stripe became a tiny black spot, around which were white lines and shading. As a child he didn't pay too much attention to all those discoveries, but later on as a doctor, he remembered what he saw in the iris, started researching more into the subject, and published a book in 1866.

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Nowadays, lots of practitioners use Iridology. Some of them are so passionate about it that they only focus on this part and just read the eye. Then they give you two beautiful iris photos and a report. and then it's your job to decide what you want to do and with whom you want to work on all those findings.

I am definitely not an expert in Iridology, but I can decently read the main issues. I'm also lucky that I can use cheat sheets, software, and even a very small and chic camera that attaches to my iPhone and allows me to take better pictures of the eyes.

If you are interested in learning more about Iridology, check out Dr. Bernard Jensen's books. He was a pioneer in the field, and I love that all his case studies come with a ton of pictures.

Now back to my papers and midterms!

Abdominal Diagnosis and Japanese Acupuncture

Last weekend I attended the seminar, "Five Phases and Root Treatment in Japanese Acupuncture" in downtown Chicago. I got to practice again my Japanese needling technique, contact needling, abdominal palpation, and diagnosis.

The style taught is based on the book Introduction to Meridian Therapy by Shudo Denmai. Personally, I would have loved a deeper insight into the Japanese treatments, but for just one day, the seminar was still OK.

Japanese acupuncture uses the abdominal diagnosis much more than TCM. When you hear about abdominal diagnosis it doesn't seem like much, but when you get the chance to palpate and feel the differences on people, then it starts to make sense. I had the chance to feel the "bumps" on the skin (excess), I felt my finger sinking (deficiency) and even the differences in the roughness of the skin. Japanese protocol seems more fluent, and a bit more focused on the patient since they diagnose mainly on palpation.

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After dipping into Japanese acupuncture, we thought appropriate to enjoy a matcha latte for lunch break and organic yummy food at Le Pain Quotidien.

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Downtown was sunny, streets were full of people, and as usual, we enjoyed every minute of it! How can you not enjoy it when it's almost midterms time but all we can think about is spring!

Healthy Snacks

One of the biggest challenges when you're a full time student and also working full time is not to jump on one of the vending machines and eat junk food just because you don't have time to shop or cook something healthier. At some point it happens to all of us and even if we know it is not the best option, sometimes it's all we got.

I am one of those people who prefer to fast and not give in to temptation in front of the vending machine, but I also don't like the idea of eating late in the evening after I am done with school.

A low carb diet opened up a whole new path for me and the last couple of months I played with different recipes and chose the ones that worked better for my body.

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My breakfast is either a Bulletproof coffee with some added grass fed collagen peptides and cocoa butter, or a green smoothie with lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil and hemp seeds. It keeps me full for 3-4 hours and then if I get hungry and don't have time for lunch, I always carry with me some fat bombs.

The name must sound strange but I discovered they can keep me full a long time, don't make me cranky, help with energy and weight loss, and I don't crave sugar anymore! So, what's a fat bomb?

It's a bunch of healthy fats: coconut oil, cocoa butter, nut butters, tahini blended with other healthy ingredients like cacao powder, berries, sometimes superfoods powders, poured into chocolate molds and ready to eat whenever you need them.

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Every weekend I try and make a fresh batch, freeze them for an hour, and then store them in a glass container in the fridge.

I recently discovered a recipe on the Calmful Living website that was using Natural Vitality Magnesium Powder and I decided to give it a try. I never used magnesium powder or oil before going on a low carb diet, but since then whenever I don't pay attention to my magnesium intake I start having muscle cramps in my legs.

I twisted the original recipe a bit and here is my version:

  • 1/3 cup cacao butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Calm magnesium powder
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon
  • Zest of 1 organic lime
  • 2 drops organic lemon essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon Xylitol (I don't really like stevia. If you don't really care about your carb intake use raw honey.)
  • A pinch of sea salt

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You just have to melt the butter and oil on a low temperature and then mix everything together. Pour the composition in whatever molds you have (ice cube trays work too), freeze it for an hour, and then store them in your fridge.

If you want to take them with you, you're going to need a chilled container so they don't melt.

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The possibilities are endless! Instead of lemon flavor you can add some strawberries, blueberries, orange, peppermint, cacao and tahini, cacao and walnuts, etc. Choose the flavor you really like and you've got a winner!