My back!!

If you’ve been shoveling snow, your back may need some extra care. Here are five things you can do to help:

  1. Shake it out. Begin by making a small, side-to-side movement from the base of your back and let your back lengthen as you rock.
  2. Imagine the spaces in between each vertebra and its neighbors lengthening.
  3. If you have ginger available, brew some to drink, and dip a washcloth in some, too. Then, put the warm washcloth on whatever part of you hurts.
  4. Rub some hypericum (a.k.a. Saint John’s wort, a.k.a. Saint Joan’s wort) oil into
    Hypericum oil

    The redder Hypericum oil gets, the more powerful it is.

    whatever parts of you need extra love.

  5. Make an appointment to see me. Shiatsu, qigong, and herbs can help a lot! We’ll come up with a custom formula for an herbal footbath and go over herbs to use directly on your back as well as ones to take internally, we’ll come up with a customized qigong program, and I’ll give you a shiatsu treatment. Or we’ll do whatever part of that you prefer and skip the parts you’d rather skip. It’s up to you.


New Year’s Resolution

This year, I’m going to take better care of myself. I’m going to pay attention to my body, give it the food it needs when I need it (and not give it the other kind), figure out some kind of exercise that works for me, and feel better as a result.

If your New Year’s resolution sounds like that, I can help. (Even if it doesn’t, I may still be able to help.)

If you want to feel better in the new year, address whatever chronic aches and pains you imagehave, deal with chronic health issues, learn better ways to handle stress, integrate herbs and qigong into your life, receive shiatsu treatments, or simply integrate your whole self so that you’re no longer thinking of your body as a slightly alien creature who happens to share your living space… please get in touch. I’d love to help you, and be your partner on this new journey.




Nervines, Acetaminophen, and Empathy

There’s an article circulating about a study showing that acetaminophen interferes with feeling empathy. The article is summarizing a scientific study that does indeed indicate that people experience less empathy after taking acetaminophen; this may be cause for concern, but the study begins with an even more interesting question.

According to the abstract, current theories about empathy “hypothesize that empathizing with others’ pain shares some overlapping psychological computations with the processing of one’s own pain. Support for this perspective has largely relied on functional neuroimaging evidence of an overlap between activations during the experience of physical pain and empathy for other people’s pain.” The double-blind study sets out to test this hypothesis by administering acetaminophen to one group of participants and then testing their empathetic response.

The traditional Western herbalists classify herbs for physical pain together with herbs for emotional support and for sleep; all fall under the heading of “nervines.” This classification exists because so many nervines do all three of these things well; motherwort, skullcap, and St. John’s wort (a.k.a. St. Joan’s wort) are examples. (Motherwort and SJW have other uses as well.) So the information from experience with plants seems to support the current theories about empathy.

The acetaminophen study set out to apply a neurochemical test to these theories via acetaminophen. This should lead us to another question: Do nervines and their pharmaceutical equivalents, including medications designed to help with sleep as well as pain meds, also interfere with feeling empathy? Presumably, acetaminophen is not the only medication that has this effect. To what extent? Just enough to take the edge off and make our empathy bearable, or enough to make us less compassionate? Should this influence titration? And how do the various herbs and pharmaceuticals compare in this regard?

Here’s the link to the abstract of the scientific study:

And here’s the link to the article popularizing it: