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Welcome to Natural Health by Karen Vaughan, MSOM, Science writer, Licensed Acupuncturist, and Registered Herbalist (American Herbalists Guild) A photo of Acupuncturist Karen Vaughan

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EMR Protection

I have been concerned about electromagnetic radiation for some time, long before the cell towers and cordless phones invaded our lives. I live in an old house with unshielded wiring. I have been using MRET technology and tubular cell phone headsets to shield my family and clients.

Read about it on Karen"s EMR Protection Page.

Focus and Dreamwave Entrainment CDs and MP3s

I love these programs which let you use your dreams consciously, develop your insight and improve your focus, all with tones that entrain you and no words.

Dreamwalk Program CD

Insight Program With Gentle Rain MP3

Insight Program With Ocean Sounds MP3

Focus Program With Rain

MP3Writer's Mind CD

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August Herbal Blog Party: Herbs for Fertility

There are many ways herbs can help a couple deal with fertility.  A simple red clover infusion  can  kick off a pregnancy for many women.   Herbalists can make specific formulas for the five parts of the menstrual cycle identified by Chinese medicine or more simply incorporate menstrual charting with formulas, using herbs to tonify the yin or yang phases of the menstrual cycle as needed.  One may even managed to open a blocked fallopian tube with a phlegm stasis formula.  Or reduce insulin resistance in PCOS.  Or improve sperm quality and motility in the male partner.  Or use flower essences with a frightened first time mother. We can even use plants to deal with the residues of sexual abuse so that a prospective mother can embrace her fertility.

Here are the results of our August Herbal Blog Party where different people wrote articles on various aspects of fertility: Continue reading…

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Staging Herbal Formulas to Enhance Fertility

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red Clover  Image via Wikipedia

Many women respond to single herbs or single formulas in their quest to get pregnant.  A strong overnight infusion of red clover, or red clover mixed with nettles and oatstraw has pushed many women over the brink from infertility to fertility.  This seems to work best when a little extra nourishment is needed in an otherwise healthy woman.   But hormones are complex, and the reasons why they may be out of balance are varied.

But before giving targeted formulas , the first thing I suggest to women is that Continue reading…

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Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Nursing

Care of Flicker by Mahalie Stackpole

Vitamin D levels are very important to your personal health as well as that of your baby.  I have previously written about how Vitamin D reduces pre-eclampsia, or toxemia of pregnancy.  Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and infancy prevents childhood Type 1 diabetes.  And low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation have caused preclinical rickets which have caused African American women whose skin absorption is lower, to lose custody of children on charges of suspected child abuse.

A South Carolina study of pregnancy complications and Vitamin D  found:

  • The 400 iu level of Vitamin D in a prenatal vitamin was inconsequential
  • 4000 iu of Vitamin D reduced bad pregnancy outcomes by half compared to 400 iu.
  • 4000 iu of Vitamin D is safe in pregnancy
  • Virtually all African American women in sunny SC had serious deficiencies of Vitamin D
  • 30% of all pregnant women in the study were severely deficient

Continue reading…

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Is Acupuncture Useful for Labor Induction?

Woman Giving Birth
Image by Travis S. via Flickr

A recent study purports to show that acupuncture does not induce labor.  What it actually showed was that mild stimulation of a specific set of points did not  affect the onset of labor in 125 women who were characterized as “past due,”  at 41 weeks.  The points chosen were the same for all women, half of which got acupuncture with needles and the other half had stimulation of the same points with a blunt needle, described as “fake acupuncture.”  There was little appreciable difference between the two groups, although the acupuncture group which was slightly older ended up with slightly earlier labor and slightly lower birthweights. The headlines proclaimed, “Study: Acupuncture Doesn’t Help Induce Labor.” Continue reading…

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Full Fat Dairy Helps Ovulation in the Infertile

Women who eat at least one portion of high-fat dairy food per day have more productive ovulation, by 27% than women who eat low-fat dairy. Women who eat 2 servings or more of low fat dairy have 85% more ovulation-related infertility.  Is it the dairy, the fat, or a combination?

‎”The risk of anovulatory infertility was found to be 27 percent lower in women who ate at least one portion of high-fat dairy food per day compared with women who had one high-fat serving of dairy per week, or even less. Women who ate two or more portions of lowfat dairy foods a day increased their risk of ovulation related infertility by 85 percent.”      Human Reproduction 2007;doi:10.1093/humrep/dem019.

Butter, A Source of CLA

Butter, A Source of CLA

We live in a world where low fat is treated as the holy grail of health, yet we forget that fats and fats alone contain certain essential nutrients, including those used to form hormones used in reproduction.  The fat from pasture-raised cows contain  has as much as five times the CLA (a fatty acid which is a potent anti-cancer agent, muscle builder, and immunity booster) as fat from grain-fed cows.  The Omega 3 essential fatty acids are found in similar proportions to deep sea fish.  Grass-fed milk contains rumenic acid (a CLA), DHA, vaccenic acid, branched chain fatty acids, butyric acid, lecithin, cysteine-rich whey proteins, calcium, iodine and vitamin D all of which have value from reducing cancer to increasing fertility. Continue reading…

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Insulin Resistance and Infertility

infertility

Infertility

It is well known that insulin resistance is the basis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a major cause of infertility, but insulin resistance affects other infertility conditions as well.

Many infertility doctors are aware of this.  I had one, non PCOS, client whose fertility doctor prescribed Metformin, a diabetes drug that improves insulin sensitivity, but failed to suggest to her that she had blood sugar problems  (at a stage in her life where she might be able to make changes to avoid diabetes.) Doctors routinely suggest weight loss for infertility which is also known to correct insulin resistance.

But drugs are not the first resource for insulin resistance.  Diet Continue reading…

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What is the Right Vitamin D Level?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

The symptoms of low vitamin D levels are subtle and difficult to distinguish, given that receptors are found in most organ systems in the body and affect genetic transcription in cells. For chronic pain the Mayo clinic suggests that Vitamin D deficiency is the first thing that should be considered. Vitamin D deficiency contributes to depression, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia, rickets, periodontal disease, seasonal affective disorder, increased susceptibility to colds and flu, colon cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, malignant melanoma, Continue reading…

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How to Make the Most (Vitamin D) from the Summer Sun

Hamasaka Kenmin Sun-beach in Shinonsen, Hyogo ...
Image via Wikipedia

Sun has been rehabilitated.  It isn’t the great killer you thought it was.  In fact, despite 40 years of contrary messages from the dermatological society, it helps protect you from cancer.  And more important, sunlight is the  main way we humans get Vitamin D, the lifesaving hormone that is used to prevent cancer, heart disease, MS, diabetes, fibromyalgia, osteomalacia and rickets.

We make the Vitamin D in oils on our skin when the sun is directly overhead.  That means you don’t want to block the sun then, or to wash Continue reading…

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Lead Found in Juice Boxes and Children’s Food

Juice box
Image by mmatins via Flickr

The California group, The Environmental Law Fund released a report on June 9 alleging that lead in substantial amounts had been found in children’s food including juice boxes of apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (including baby food), and fruit cocktail.  Most troubling was that many brands of organic food were included including Earth’s Best, Continue reading…

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Herbal Blog Party: Herbs to Beat the Heat

Image of Kristine Brown from Facebook

Image of Kristine Brown

The June blog party is hosted by Kristine Brown of Luna Herb Company on the topic of herbs to beat the Summer heat.   Those of you who are familiar with Chinese medicine know that there are two categories of herbs, “Herbs for Summerheat” and “Herbs for Summerheat Damp,”  the latter of which is a problem on the US Continue reading…

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Cooling Summer Herbal Beverages

Iced coffee

Iced coffee (photo care of Baltimore Sun)

When summer comes around I turn to the cooling bitter or astringent drinks, served slightly below room temperature or at most refrigerated.   I don’t really like to use ice because it can ruin your digestion but cold feels awfully good.  The bitter flavor is also cooling.  Sour or astringent flavors help reduce water loss, so I like an infused vinegar in water at times as well as lemon or lime water.

And while warm beverages don’t often come to mind, hot tea is often consumed all day long in China or the Mideast.  Think of it as homeopathy- like cures like.  Or just as a way of reducing the difference between your body and the environment so adjustment isn’t such a shock.

One word about caffeinated beverages.  You aren’t eating dry leaves or beans, you are drinking a water-based beverage flavored with the leaves or beans.  The research shows you don’t lose more water than you take in, but you do lose it sooner, so tissues don’t hydrate as well.  Rule of thumb:  you lose 25% of the fluid value from coffee compared to water, and Continue reading…

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Vinegar, Muscle Cramps, Blood Sugar and Acids

Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or her...

Image via Wikipedia

The New York Times just published an article indicating that pickle juice (made of salt, vinegar and spices) was helpful at relieving muscle cramps. In a very small trial, 10 men exercised until dehydrated then were electrically stimulated until they cramped, and were given either pickle juice or water. Pickle juice relieved cramps significantly compared to distilled water. The trainers thought that the pickle juice replaced fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise. The researchers thought it was the vinegar. And many of the readers commented that vinegar alone had relieved cramps for them. (One even thought the vinegar in mustard did the same.) Which got me musing about the value of vinegar, and even acids in general. Continue reading…

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The Herbal Treatment of Pain

Red Opium Poppy

Red Opium Poppy

Pain is a huge topic.  Pain can come from trauma, pressure on nerves, from the wear and tear of osteoarthritis, inflammation due to allergens or pollutants that can set off autoimmune reactions, low Vitamin D status, expanding cartilage under weak bones (osteomalacia), retained placentas, stress, anxiety, PTSD, even viral causes.  So the first order of business is to get diagnosed, not only by a western MD but by an herbalist or doctor of Auyrveda or Chinese medicine who knows how do pattern diagnosis.  Pain specialists, both eastern and western may be better able to work with chronic pain than general practitioners.     Continue reading…

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Musings on the Treatment of Allergies

Top Seven Allergens

by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac. RH (AHG)

Allergies, especially food allergies and sensitivities are not well understood in any form of medicine. Western medicine distinguishes between allergies and sensitivities, with imunoglobulin E (IgE) being the hallmark of allergy and IgG being the hallmark of sensitivity. There may be Igs that we have not yet discovered. Either or both can cause virtually any symptom ranging from itchy skin, rashes, and minor pains to complex problems such as obesity, schizophrenia, depression, ADD/ADHD, arthritis and autoimmune disease. In fact even the RAST test and IgG tests have huge error rates, approaching 30%, with both false positives and false negatives. The only reliable way of identifying food allergens is elimination for a number of weeks and rechallenge.

Food intolerances,  Continue reading…

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May Blog Party: Herbs for Sexual Health and Vitality

Sean Donahue

Greenman Sean Donahue, of Green Man Ramblings is host to the May Herbal Blog Party on Herbs for Sexual Health and Vitality. A number of prominent herbalists have written articles on various facets of sexuality and herbs, from improving function to contraception.  Here is his reblogged post with the links to the articles:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May Blog Party: Herbs For Sexual Health and Vitality

How do you promote healthy, vital, joyful sexuality?     Continue reading…

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Herbs for Sex and Sexual Response

Avena Sativa, milky oats for sex problems due to adrenal exhaustion. From Matt Lavin at www.flickr.com

Sexual response is not just about sexuality, it is about overall health.  When you aren’t functioning sexually, it is a sign of overall ill health.   Sexual response is complex and sexual dysfunction refers to a wide variety of conditions.  Because of this you should not go willy nilly into popping herbs, or for that matter Viagra.    The herbal treatment of sexual dysfunction depends on a good differential diagnosis.  So here are some  basic questions.

1.  First,  do you trust your partner?  Should you be having sex with them?  Are you in love?  Are you angry?  Is your communication not good?  Maybe you don’t want to be available to just anyone or with someone who does not value you.  If your body is refusing to become aroused, maybe it is trying to tell you something about your partner or the state of your relationship.  Address that first. Continue reading…

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Escape Reading for People Who Love Herbal Medicine

Herbalism consumes me. My idea of a vacation is to go wildcrafting in the woods or to explore the spice markets of exotic locales. Escape reading for me is luscious accounts of life enhanced by flavors and spices, biographies of curanderos, accounts of life in the jungle, the natural history of food. It doesn’t need to be fiction, an unusual locale, or a different way of life, as long as the herbs are there.  If you share the passion, try these books:

1. The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Initiated in the ways of turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek and cloves, the spice mistress Continue reading…

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Sleep and Learning: More sleep means less study needed

Napping is not only restful but it helps them learn

When I lived in Italy, we went to school until 12:30 then returned home for 2 hours for lunch and a nap.  Afterward we went back to study until 6:00.  At the time I was astounded at how much more Italian high school students learned compared to American students.  New research shows that the napping might have something to do with it.

A University of California, Berkeley study took 39 healthy adults and studied their ability to learn and memorize with or without naps. The participants who napped between learning sessions (for 90 minutes) improved their own scores by 10 percent while their non-napping counterparts saw scores dropping by 10 percent.            Continue reading…

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Lowering Inflammation Naturally

A picture of CRP from 1B09.

One of the most plausible reasons to give statins, despite significant side effects like severe muscle pain (rhabdomyolysis), impotence , cognitive impairment, neuropathies and 9% increases in type 2 diabetes, is to lower inflammation.  Cholesterol, which is higher when the body is inflamed, is the body’s bandage for irritated arteries, preventing us from bleeding out if those arterial walls give way.  While cholesterol is correlated with heart disease, inflammation is the real culprit. Continue reading…

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Breastfeeding Protects Mothers From Diabetes

Breastfeeding an infant

Image via Wikipedia

It is known that having children increases the chances of women developing Type 2 diabetes in later life.  New research shows that breastfeeding can reduce this risk to the same level as that of women who have never had children.

Australian researchers studying 53,700 women over 45  found that  diabetes rates were similar for women with children and those who had remained childless. But among women with children, each year of breastfeeding was associated with a 14 percent reduction in diabetes risk.

Compared to childless women,  women who’d had children and never breastfed were 50 percent more likely to have Type 2 diabetes. However if mothers had breastfed each child for at least 3 months, the risk was not elevated.

Researchers analyzed a number of other factors that could affect a woman’s likelihood of  developing diabetes — including age, weight, family history of diabetes, reported exercise habits and education and income levels. When those issues were factored out, breastfeeding remained linked to the odds of having diabetes.     Continue reading…

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