Alternative Medicine

On Being a Father…

Image of DadThe joys and challenges of being a father demand a careful balance of exercise, healthy eating habits and focused healthcare.
Newborns bring a special joy and delight to a young father as well as needing much care and feeding late into the night and early morning.   Many a father has made a speedy trip to the emergency room to retrieve that missing safety pin.  A quick check for monsters under the bed at night helps the kids go to sleep.  Career moves sharpen the skills needed to adapt to new work environment.  Stressful, yes but all a part of becoming a father.
As the young father matures and the children grow into young adults the many demands of raising children change.  Driving lessons in the parking lot, evening recitals for the young musician, and weekend field trips keep both parents moving and the schedules full.  It is also a time when work expectations change and bring with it new challenges to learn and transform.   Anxiety, yes , there is nothing quite like trying to teach a teenager to drive.
In later years the children are now grown and a fathers focus is directed towards retirement, grandchildren , and perhaps travel.   The daily lifestyle habits all come to bear on Dad’s health.  Time becomes more valuable just as it seems to pass more quickly.  Exercise, healthy eating habits and attitude become even more important as metabolism slows.
Whether a new father with very young children, a  middle aged Dad with young adults  or a Dad with fully grown adult children that have moved out and beginning families of their own, Dad is always Dad and his daily lifestyle habits will greatly influence his enjoyment of life and those around him.
We have the tendency to think that most of the health conditions we acquire in life are age related and although age is an undeniable factor the truth is much different.  In  America today the majority of the chronic conditions are the result of poor choices in life.  Life style plays the most  important role in our health status.  Bad eating habits are the biggest of these mistakes. Poor eating habits  not only effect our digestive health and weight, an unhealthy diet has an impact on cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems as well.
Lack of exercise is another factor in our poor health.  We know you’ve  already heard this many times but here is another way to look at it.  Mistakes made during exercise  are a bigger issue than not exercising at all.  The body needs balance and rest in an exercise regiment just like diet.  Hard exercises should always be balanced with mindful exercises like yoga, meditation and Qi Gong.  Most of the chronic pain and auto immune patients were good athletes who never thought they needed a balance in their exercise regiment.
When a healthy balanced diet meets a balanced exercise regiment it is easier to create the body mind connection which is essential for optimal health and treat the ailments of the  competitive western minds and life style.  Acupuncture , Herbal medicine, massage , meditation and Qi gong are proven methods that can deliver the balance,  vitality, clarity and peace in our stress driven lives.
“Do not try to keep breathing in , Breathing out is also good and necessary.”
Nejat Kesler, LAc
nejat picture
By |June 11th, 2015|Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, General, Health|Comments Off on On Being a Father…|

Why “Round-up” makes me opt organic By Ara Walline, ND

RoundupIn the last week, a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated and determined that the most commonly used weed killer in the world is “probably carcinogenic.”   While this is hardly definitive language considering the fact that the pesticides and herbicides that this one replaced have such well documented negative impacts on human and environmental health, I do think it is a good example of how we are using human ingenuity to our own detriment. The mechanism by which this “smarter,” next-generation chemical kills weeds is also killing beneficial plants and microbes. This secondary impact in turn is having wider health effects on our environment through harm to ecosystems and in our bodies by less well correlated means such as disruption of beneficial digestive microflora. Even if the health impact is less severe and occurs at a lower rate than in the past, evidence is building that a risk remains. In addition, as “weeds” adapt and change, it is requiring higher and higher chemical concentrations of pesticide to have the same weed whacking effect. At this rate, it is hard to imagine the health risk lessening over time and all too easy to see it getting worse.


For me, the WHO finding is just the latest reason why I choose, whenever possible, to support my local organic farmers who have opted out of the chemical hamster wheel, especially when it comes to corn, soy, wheat, meat and dairy products. In order for food to act as medicine in our body and for our planet, it has to be safe.  Why put ourselves or our families at risk when we are blessed to live in a place where we have the choice of what foods we eat?


For additional perspectives on this issue, please see the links below:


By |April 4th, 2015|Alternative Medicine, General|Comments Off on Why “Round-up” makes me opt organic By Ara Walline, ND|

Taking the “Sting” out of Allergies: Finding Allergy Relief with Natural Medicine

 Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline, ND

Ara Walline, ND

Itchy and watery eyes, stagnant and painful sinus congestion, flares of red and burning rashes, shortness of breath, overall sluggishness and mental fatigue; depending on the individual, allergies can manifest in a variety of ways. Using natural medicine, every treatment is also individualized and for this reason allergy relief can be longer lasting.  The naturopathic approach to allergy relief has three main goals: stabilize the immune system, identify and reduce allergy triggers, and relieve symptoms.

Stabilize the Immune System

By looking at an individual’s symptom picture it is possible to determine what part of the immune system is out of balance. Specific herbs and nutrients can then be recommended to calm or bolster the immune system accordingly and thus reduce symptoms.

allergy-culprits naturopathy

Identify and Reduce Triggers

Identifying and reducing allergy triggers can be a straightforward process in some casesand in other situations it can be more difficult. Not surprisingly, there is often a connection between environmental allergies and food sensitivities; one may follow or worsen the other.

Relieve Symptoms

One of my favorite local herbs to treat allergy symptoms is Stinging Nettle. This herb contains a variety of active chemical compounds including bioflavonoids, lectins, and polysaccharides that are believed to protect the body’s cells from inflammatory injury. When prepared and used correctly, this herb can be as effective as an over-the-counter antihistamine without the sedating side effects.

It’s never too early to prepare for allergy season. Developing a comprehensive plan for how to reduce your allergy symptoms can help make the spring much more enjoyable!

By |March 11th, 2014|Alternative Medicine, Health|Comments Off on Taking the “Sting” out of Allergies: Finding Allergy Relief with Natural Medicine|

Step in the Sauna and Escape Allergies

Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline, ND

Ara Walline, ND

Sauna therapy can benefit the heart, the nervous system, the immune system and even improve allergies, according to preliminary research studies. Whether in a Roman steam bath, a Native American sweat lodge, or a local spa, the benefit of sauna and heat therapy has long been employed for healing by cultures around the world. A 2013 study is helping to expand the science of sauna therapy by demonstrating that after just 6 weeks of treatment individuals suffering from chronic allergies were able to experience less congestion and greater lung capacity as well!

Unravel Therapeutics SaunaWhy does sauna help reduce allergy symptoms? This study suggests that the changes in blood flow and in the nervous system’s response to heat may explain it. Study participants followed a targeted 30 minute sauna experience consisting of repeated 5 minute heat and 5 minute rest periods. Measurements of lung and nervous system function were taken at the beginning and end of the study period, as well as half way through. Building on previous research that linked chronic allergies to a poorly regulated nervous system, this study sought to exploit the fact that exposing the body to heat in the form of sauna can also build nervous system resilience. Investigators believe that symptoms were improved not only as a result of strengthening the nervous system, but also as a result of the congestion-clearing local effects of heat in the nasal cavity.

In naturopathic medicine, we are taught to use and respect the tools of heat and cold, water, and herbs to strengthen and nourish the organs and tissues of the body. This study demonstrates how seemingly simple treatments like heat and sauna can have profound effects on the body, and ultimately, contribute to greater overall health and vitality.


Kunbootsri N, Janyacharoen T, Arrayawichanon P, Chainansamit S, Kanpittaya J, Auvichayapat P, Sawanyawisuth K. The effect of six-weeks of sauna on treatment of the autonomic nervous system, peak nasal inspiratory flow and lung functions of allergic rhinitis Thai patients. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013 Jun;31(2):142-7.





* During the month of March, enjoy a trip to the Eucalyptus sauna at Unravel Therapeutics at the beginning or end or your naturopathic health consultation to benefit from the health promoting effects of heat as we endure the last few months of winter’s chill!

By |March 9th, 2014|Alternative Medicine|Comments Off on Step in the Sauna and Escape Allergies|

Getting To Sleep Naturally

Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline ND

Written by: Dr. Ara Walline, Naturopath


How quickly does loss of sleep impact your health? In just under one week, according to new research findings from the University of Pennsylvania (1). A group of healthy individuals restricted to 4 hours of sleep, showed significant changes in eating behavior as well as weight gain after just 5 consecutive nights in the study. Those whose bedtime was delayed until 4 AM filled in the time with self-selected sedentary activities including eating meals that tended to have a high fat content. Not surprisingly, at the end of the week of observation, the sleep restricted group had gained weight, while the group whose sleep time was extended to 10 hours actually lost weight.

getting to sleep naturaly


Natural medicine offers many ways to help individuals who are sleep challenged re-establish a healthy sleep cycle and reap the benefits of their rest. One of the most effective sleep treatments falls under the category of biofeedback. This group of non-pharmocologic interventions helps individuals to develop their capacity to consciously relax tense muscles, quiet anxious thoughts, and ultimately shift the nervous system to a state of balance where sleep is possible. While these skills are being developed, a range of individualized natural therapies can be used to support the systems of the body that have been weakened by chronic sleeplessness and the often associated high stress levels.


One of the sleep promoting natural interventions that I use in my practice is therapeutic essential oils. Essential oils are the chemicals in plants that allow it among other things to fight off disease, recover from injury, and attract pollinators that are necessary for its short and long term survival. In humans, these chemicals enter the blood stream through the nose and have direct beneficial effects on sinus and respiratory tissue. They also positively impact the nervous system, and the limbic system or emotion center of the brain.

Essential oils have been used therapeutically to support sleep and modify mood for centuries. Scientific investigations into their effects are beginning to explain how and why they work. One such research study collected standard polysomnographic sleep data as well as self-rated assessment of mood and sleep quality (2). Participants exposed to just 2 minutes of lavender essential oil prior to bed over 3 consecutive nights reported improved “vigor” in the morning. The sleep data also showed that exposure to the lavender scent increased deep or slow wave sleep in both men and women without causing drowsiness or delayed waking in the morning.

Every essential oil has primary as well as secondary benefits based on the chemicals from which it is composed. While lavender is a well-known and scientifically validated sleep promoter, there are a variety of other essential oils that also support healthy sleep and may have secondary benefits that are more specific to an individual’s unique needs. The naturopathic intake and assessment helps to identify these needs and thus offer a treatment that is more broadly beneficial to the individual.

(1) Spaeth AM; Dinges DF; Goel N. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. SLEEP 2013;36(7):981-990.
(2) Goel N; Kim H; Lao RP. An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiol Int 2005; 22(5):889-90

By |November 5th, 2013|Alternative Medicine, Health|Comments Off on Getting To Sleep Naturally|

Winter Chinese Medicine

Survive the winter with Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese cosmology the winter season has started on November 8th and seems like it is going to be an extreme one. During this challenging season it may be a good idea to take a look at nature itself to find some good advice, not only to keep us healthy and survive but also strengthen our body and mind even more.
Thousands of years old Chinese medical theory is strongly based on observations of nature. Seasonal changes, and changes in the states of plants and behavior of the animals according to the cycles of nature has inspired some of these medical theories. From this ancient perspective, winter belongs to the Water element and in a way it is the season of death and rebirth. Winter allows the old to perish and prepare the nature for the new beginning. During this cold and dark season the life force Qi, (pronounced chee) of all living things, sink to the root for protection; trees shed leafs, many animals hibernate and the rest limit their activities for survival. We should do the same. According to one of the oldest medical texts of Chinese medicine, Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), during winter one should sleep early and rise late, so that we can take advantage of the long nights to replenish as much as possible while avoiding the harsh early morning temperature. Winter is the right season for more meditation, reflection and inner cultivation. It is the best time to conserve energy and strengthen the inner core by limiting work, sexual activity and exercise. I hear you, it is hard especially when it comes to work, but it can be possible to simplify and limit other activities as much as possible.
Food is an important part of winter maintenance, of course! Avoid raw foods as much as possible; not to mention cold drinks and foods like ice cream. In general choose foods that are brown and black in color. In Chinese food therapy colors are associated with seasons and organ systems. Winter is related to Kidney organ system and it’s color is black. Black mushrooms and black beans are highly beneficial. Root vegetables are great in general. Mutton, beef, bone marrow, duck and rabbit meat are recommended. Chinese yam, sesame (especially black sesame), dates, longan, mushrooms, leek and roasted nuts (especially walnuts) are part of the winter diet. Avoid salty food. In Chinese medicine salt is related to the Kidney organ system (Water element). Consuming salty foods can make the Water element to become excess and in return a hyperactive Kidney may inhibit the Heart (Fire element). In this case a person may experience heart palpitations, cardiac pain, cold limbs and fatigue. Reducing salty food and consuming more bitter flavors will create a healthy balance between Heart and Kidneys. Foods with bitter flavors are kale, apricots, asparagus, celery, tea, grapefruit, hops, lettuce, Chinese bitter melon, celery, radish leaves, vinegar, turnips and wine. Consuming excessive spicy and rich food may lead to skin rashes, sore throat and bronchitis.
Exercise is always healthy. However slow, repetitive movements with less exertion than usual must be preferred. Short walks and exercises to strengthen the lower part of the body (legs, hips, pelvis, low back) are the best choice. Physical exercises must always be balanced with energy work: guided energy meditations (internal alchemy), yoga that includes more than stretches. Qi Gong and Tai Qi Chuan are the ways to create that balance.
Pay more attention to keeping your feet and low back warm. Protect your neck and head from wind. Wind enters the body from the neck and cold enters from the feet. The damage wind and cold can create in the body is more than we give them credit for. It is essential to keep your immune system up and running. Food is the best way of doing it (see the recommendations above), but sometimes it may be necessary to get some extra help. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can work wonders. Seasonal acupuncture treatments may help your body to adapt to seasonal changes, regulate the imbalances and increase the vitality to be able to function properly. Chinese herbal formula, such as Jade Screen (Yu Ping Feng Tang) is one of the best general immune boosters. But it is best to let your East Asian Medicine Practitioner tailor one for you.
Nejat Kesler, DAOM, EAMP

By |December 18th, 2011|Alternative Medicine|Comments Off on Winter Chinese Medicine|