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Pajama Drive

November 9, 2010

Starting tomorrow, November 10, 2010, The Center: Natural Health Specialists will be hosting a pajama drive for the Pajama Program, a wonderful non-profit organization who provides new, warm pajamas and new books to children in need all over the U.S. and around the world. The program serves children in need living in group homes and shelters. Most have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a story.

Pajama Program’s mission becomes more urgent during the period it identifies as “Danger Seasonwhen the thermostat dips and the harsh winter months settle in. Pajama Program works hard to heighten the public’s awareness of the need to keep these at risk children in warm, clean nighttime clothing and with a bedtime book to allay their fears. 

“For so many needy and abused children, winter means endless cold and scary nights,” explains Pajama Program founder Genevieve Piturro. “The winter season is a particularly critical time when these children are most vulnerable to serious colds and illnesses. Warm, clean pajamas help to protect them against night chills and harmful conditions. Emotionally, pajamas are a hug for children who feel lost and alone.”

The books the children read at bedtime go a long way in improving their reading level as well. Most have been removed from school for long periods of time and do not have access to books and their grade reading level is far lower than their peers.

Chapter Presidents across the U.S. identify “Receiving Organizations” in their communities where children in need are living. Raleigh/Durham Chapter President, Sue Myers is dedicated to helping children in need right here in Raleigh. When asked about where the donations we gather would go, Sue explained, “One hundred percent of the donations my chapter collects stay local.  They go to approved receiving organizations in several different counties including Wake, Orange, and Durham.  These receiving organizations are comprised of homeless shelters, centers, and other organizations that serve children in need. Some examples include The Genesis Home in Durham – which works to end homelessness for families with children, the Community Helpers Service Center in Knightdale, the Salvation Army in downtown Raleigh, and the Orange County Department of Social Services.”

The need is great. There are more than 513,000 children in the foster care system in the U.S. and more than one million children who are not living with their natural parents. These children have been through great upheaval and trauma, without exception. Please help us help this wonderful organization provide children in need with the simple comfort of a new, warm pair of pajamas and a new book to call their own. 

The Center: Natural Health Specialists will be collecting donations of new pajamas and books for all ages infant-17 from November 10th through December 15th. Please bring your donations to the address below between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays, or between 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

The Center: Natural Health Specialists, 8404 Six Forks Rd. Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27615 

All pajamas and books should be new with the tags on. We ask that the pajamas be a complete set or a night gown. For ideas on what to get, check out the Raleigh/Durham Chapter’s Amazon Wishlist. Please feel free to call our office, 919.848.0200, with any questions.

Thank you all for your support!

Preventative Healthcare

November 9, 2010

If you were given just one car to have for the rest of your life, would you only take it to a mechanic when something goes wrong? Or would you periodically have it serviced to prevent future problems?  Without a doubt, the cars that run the longest and have the least amount of problems are those that receive regular maintenance and have the oil changed.  It is odd that this principle is so easily understood when it comes to auto care, yet is seldom practiced when it comes to health care.  Your body is just like your car.  You can prevent serious problems by adopting a preventative approach to caring for yourself and your body right now. 

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine make up an exceptional preventative healthcare system.  The Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic procedures have been practiced and refined for thousands of years.  Through asking the right questions, physical examination, observation of the tongue, and pulse diagnosis, a practitioner of Oriental Medicine is able to detect patterns of disease long before the symptoms manifest.  All ailments and diseases have a root cause and manifestation of the signs and symptoms.  The root cause of disease can be present long before symptoms can be seen.  Just like a car can still operate with very low gasoline or oil before the engine stops running.  Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine may be able to effectively determine imbalances in the body and correct them before serious problems arise. 

Comprehensive healthcare is not about treating a disease, it is about treating a person.  Oriental Medicine has been proven to be an effective healthcare system because of the attention to detail and to of all the factors that make you different from any other person.  In Oriental Medicine everything is geared specifically to you.  10 people can receive treatments for the same problem, and every treatment will be different because no two people are identical.  Though the problem may be the same, each patient is different and has a different life style, diet, body type, sleep pattern, activities, emotions, stress levels, family history, etc.  All of these factors are essential to treat you as a whole person in a comprehensive medical system.  When only the symptoms are being treated, each of these individual factors is not taken into account; the symptoms alone are evaluated and treated.  However, only treating the symptoms is to miss the root cause, and as long as the root cause is still present, the symptoms will always return.

Preventative care can help you achieve optimum health, feel vibrant, and stay that way.  Take advantage of all the exceptional qualities Oriental Medicine has to offer, which have been refined for thousands of years.   In addition to the care of Oriental Medicine, be sure to eat a nutritious and healthy diet, get enough rest and activity, work hard, play hard, and always strive to maintain a healthy balance in all that you do.  Expanding your definition of healthcare and taking care of yourself now, can prevent serious health problems later.

The best way to treat a problem is to prevent it from ever happening.

Maximize Your Immune System This Cold-Flu Season

November 4, 2010

We are approaching the time of year that colds and the flu are more frequently seen. In my role as a health care provider, and a daddy to 3 daughters, I am constantly exposed to people with some type of bug or virus. People are always asking me what I do to stay healthy. So, I thought I would share with you the supplements I take and the things I do to make sure I am as healthy as I can be with my immune system strong to prevent getting sick.

1) Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and natural immune booster. I typically suggest taking between 2-4 grams per day. Of course dosages will vary depending on your personal needs. Often dosages this high must be spread out through the day. At The Center, we carry two types of high quality Vitamin C, both by Pure Encapsulations. The first is a powder that is mixed with water, and the second is the same product but in a vegetable capsule, which some find more convenient. These products are now available for $21.60 and $16.30 respectively.

2) BioVegetarian– This product is an all around great immune booster providing a higher dosage of a wide variety of vitamins, especially vitamin A, which has been known to prevent the onset of colds and viruses as well as decrease the duration of ailments if they are already present. This product is now available for $19.00 at The Center.

3) Gripp Heel– This is an exceptional homeopathic which I literally do not leave home without. Taking this product at the first signs of a cold or illness will typically prevent its onset. This product is so effective, I instruct patients to take this for as long as you think about it. The reason for such instructions is if you are experiencing symptoms of a cold (fatigue, body aches, runny nose, sore throat…) you are thinking about your symptoms and will remember to take the Gripp-Heel. What happens in almost every case, you start taking the product to address your symptoms and a week later you say “oh, I forgot to keep taking the Gripp Heel” and then you realize you also never got sick. I have seen it happen over and over. This product is now available for $29.98 at The Center.

4) Use a Neti Pot. I am a big fan of  the neti pot. The use of a neti pot simply cleans out the sinuses – where germs first enter the body. As a result, you are decreasing the build up of allergens, dust and other foreign invaders that wear down the immune system. Using a neti pot is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective things one can do to decrease allergies, congestion, colds, and enhance the immune system as a whole. During cold and flu season, you should use your neti pot daily to flush out all of the nasty germs you come in contact with. This product is now available for $17.96 at The Center.

5) Rest. Be sure you are getting enough rest. Easier said than done, I know. Listen to your body. For many, the very first sign of illness is a drop in energy. With the onset of a virus your immune system starts working much harder to keep you healthy. As a result of an overworked immune system your energy may drop. Pay attention to what your body needs. If you feel a drop in energy; rest. Give your body a chance to recover and the rest it needs to function optimally. This is now available for FREE in the comfort of your own home.

With a little help from these quality supplements, some extra rest, and the regular use of a neti pot you may be able to significantly decrease your chances of getting sick and remain healthy and happy this holiday season.

The Hazards of Cold and Raw Foods

October 19, 2010

According to Chinese dietary therapy, often too much cold and raw foods can damage our digestive systems.  Our bodies are typically 97-98 degrees.  Anything that you place in your body that is less than this, the body first must work harder to heat it up to then make it usable to the system.  Think about Chinese food; real Chinese food, not a Chinese buffet.  How many dishes are cold or raw?  Practically none.  The Chinese know that cold or raw foods are additionally taxing to the system so they are used very sparingly.

Like all things, remember that there are pros and cons to eating foods that are both hot and cold or raw in temperature.  From cold food you will receive the benefits of the enzymes found in raw vegetables that are often destroyed as a result of being cooked at too high a temperature.  However, in our Western culture, there is an imbalance in the temperature of foods we consume and, very often, we are overeating cold and raw food. Think of the common western breakfast – cereal with cold milk.  Think of a typical lunch -you are probably thinking of a cold sandwich.  For many, dinner is the only meal that is hot, and even then it is accompanied by a cold salad or a glass of ice water. 

Balance is the key to health and happiness in Oriental Medicine. I am not an advocate for completely eliminating cold or raw foods.  I am suggesting that there is a healthy balance.  For clients who have digestive disorders, I frequently suggest they significantly decrease their intake of raw and cold foods.  Often during their treatments I will use various forms of heat on their abdomens to add heat to help balance out the effects of eating so many raw and cold foods.  I also suggest that if you do eat cold or raw foods, you follow it up with something hot, like tea. This will help to balance out the temperatures and decrease the unnecessary extra work the digestive system has to do to warm up the cold foods in our systems to make them usable to our bodies.

Be Proactive to Avoid Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

October 11, 2010

The fall is a time of year that seasonal allergies are often significantly exacerbated.  There are several effective ways to deal with decreasing, and even eliminating your allergy symptoms.  Typically the best way to decrease your allergic symptoms is to strengthen your immune system to prevent the histamine reaction from occurring in the first place. 

Allergens are all around us, so why do some have reactions while others do not?  According to Oriental Medicine, this is because of the quality of your wei qiWei qi is a defensive type of energy that protects your body from foreign invaders.  If this type of energy is weak, airborne matter from the exterior (dust, pollen, grasses, molds…) can enter your body, where they become trapped in the sinuses.   You body then does its best to capture these foreign invaders and get them out of your body by creating histamine: watery eyes, sneezing, etc.  These are all very effective tools the body uses to cleanse it self. 

This wei qi can be strengthened now  through acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to prevent your susceptibility to these airborne allergens.  Often, effective treatment for allergies begins 1-2 months before the allergy season even starts, but it’s not too late to strengthen your wei qi now.

Another very easy tool to eliminate the affects of seasonal allergies on your system is regular use of a neti pot.  A neti pot looks like a gravy boat and is used to flush out your sinuses with saline water.  By doing this your sinuses stay clean and your body has less of a need to create so much mucus and histamine to capture and expel the allergen.  To some, this process of cleaning out your sinuses may sound a little gross and bizarre, and perhaps it is, but it is truly something that can significantly decrease allergy symptoms, sinus congestion, sinus infections, and improve overall all health.

In addition to these very effective ways to decrease allergies this fall, there are also a wide variety of natural nutritional supplements and homepathics that are frequently suggested in our office depending on your individual needs.

Being proactive about your health with these simple steps can decrease and even eliminate your body’s reaction to the typical seasonal allergies.  Imagine, you may be one of those individuals who no longer suffers from congestion, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, and fatigue, and gets to enjoy the beautiful fall weather outdoors!

Read what some of our patients have to say about how acupuncture has helped soothe their seasonal allergy symptoms!

Autumn is Here!

October 5, 2010


We at The Center: Natural Health Specialists are very excited about the blossoming of fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and some of the most delicious produce is in season! Check out your local farmer’s market for a great selection of sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash and more. Check out this fantastic resource, provided by the NRDC, to find out what produce is in season in your area and where to get it. Soups and stews are an obvious choice for the cool temperatures of fall – we love this pumpkin ginger soup recipe from Elana’s Pantry, a wonderful place to find tips and recipes for gluten-free cooking. This recipe requires only 6 ingredients and 4 steps!

Let us know how much you love it, and check back soon for more great autumnal recipes that will help you eat locally and seasonally!

A Worthy Cause

September 20, 2010

For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop their belief in themselves. Special Olympics sports provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy. When Special Olympics athletes walk into a gymnasium, step up to the pitching mound, or pick up a basketball they are transformed. They are no longer framed by negative stereotypes and misconceptions about intellectual disabilities. They are champions in their own eyes. Those around them are changed too, beginning to see — often for the first time — what they can do. Please help us support this wonderful cause by donating online today.

If we meet our goal of $1,000.00, we will send our very own Quinn Takei, L.Ac. & Director of The Center: Natural Health Specialists Over The Edge of the Wachovia Tower in donwtown Raleigh on October 2, 2010.

Time is running out! Please help us support this very worthy cause today!

Carpel Tunnel and Acupuncture – Is it Effective?

September 15, 2010

By Neeki Smith, L.Ac, The Center: Natural Health Specialists

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are very effective for carpel tunnel syndrome.  I have helped many patients with this painful disorder and have kept several clients out of surgery.

First and foremost, even if you have been diagnosed with carpel tunnel, I would re-evaluate you to see if you really have carpel tunnel or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).  TOS and carpel tunnel have similar signs and symptoms; numb, tingling or burning hands, and pain in the wrists and/or hands.

In TOS the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the shoulder area, usually between the first rib and the collar bone, due to tight muscles.

In carpel tunnel, the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the wrist area, usually due to inflammation from over-use.  The wrist is kept stable and in place by a connective tissue called the retinaculum, which acts like a wide band around the wrist.  The retinaculum does not stretch and when the tissue becomes inflamed, there is nowhere for the swollen tissue to go except inwards – pinching the nerves, veins and arteries and causing pain, tingling, numbness, or burning in the local area.

In TOS, the same symptoms occur in the wrist, even though the pinching is occurring in the shoulder area, making carpel tunnel and TOS difficult to tell apart.

Treatment consists of a series of acupuncture treatments, Tui Na (a form of therapeutic massage), a topical anti-inflammatory, stretches, and sometimes Chinese herbs and other supplements, depending on your case.  The doctor recommended brace works well, although some people complain about not being able to sleep with the brace on.  Of course, reducing the use of your hands and wrists will help too, but that is not possible for most people.

Doing ALL of the recommended treatments AT THE SAME TIME is vitally important.  You can’t try the brace or stretches alone and say it didn’t work – it is a comprehensive treatment program that takes a number of weeks, and sometimes months in severe cases.

Results of treatment vary depending on the severity of your case and your compliance to treatment recommendations.  Most clients have a significant reduction in symptoms within the first 3-4 treatments, usually enough to keep them out of surgery.

Some people get 80% better, and then stop treatment because the symptoms become tolerable.  Stopping treatment early is not advisable, as the symptoms tend to recur or linger if treatment is not complete, compounding the problem and making complete recovery much more difficult.

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are a viable alternative to drugs and surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome and TOS.

Gluten-Free Living

September 14, 2010

Gluten has been catching a lot of flack lately. Whether you are suffering from celiac disease, IBS, gluten allergies, or just trying to lose weight, odds are you have heard of the gluten-free diet. So, what is gluten anyway? Why should you free yourself from it? And, how exactly are you to go about avoiding something that seems to be everywhere?

Gluten is an elastic protein in wheat, rye, barley and other carbohydrates that basically holds things together. Its elasticity is what allows bread to rise, it is what makes bagels so chewy, and it is exactly why it can be so difficult to digest. Because of gluten’s elasticity, it is often used as a thickener in commercial products, meaning many processed foods contain gluten, even if they don’t contain wheat. From candy to lunchmeat, gluten can be found just about everywhere. Cutting gluten out of your diet means investigating every detail of everything you eat. So, here is a basic gluten-free beginner’s list of do’s and don’ts:


              EAT THIS:                                                                                                       NOT THIS:

                 quinoa                                                                                                               wheat

              buckwheat                                                                                                       semolina

               popcorn                                                                                                               rye

                millet                                                                                                                 barley

             cornmeal                                                                                                             bran

                  flax                                                                                                              wheat germ

When shopping for gluten-free goodies, your best bet is your local natural health food store. Here in Raleigh, some good options are Earth Fare, Harmony Farms Natural Foods, and Whole Foods. Another fantastic place to check out is Rosie’s Plate. At Rosie’s Plate, not only do they sell gluten-free products like pancake mix, and oats, but they are also a completely gluten, peanut, and shellfish free kitchen cooking up delicious entrees, soups, desserts, and more. You can even order your meals ahead of time and have them delivered to your home! If you are struggling to get started, visit the Rosie’s Plate website and check out their 7 Day Elimination Menu. They even host classes to help you fully understand the gluten-free lifestyle, and show you how to make delicious, gluten-free meals even your kids will love. Visit their events page to check out a full schedule.

For more information about the gluten-free diet and if is right for you – talk to your health care practitioner today.


August 15, 2010

Welcome to The Center: Natural Health Specialists’ blog. We have created this blog to share information that will help you lead a naturally healthy life. Check back soon for health tips, recipes, and more!