Monday, June 29, 2009

Acupuncture for Post Surgical Dental Pain

By David TreviƱo, L.Ac.

One of my colleagues recently needed gum surgery and was in a lot of pain after the procedure. Her dentist prescribed painkillers, but my colleague said that she did not like to take medications. I offered her an acupuncture treatment and during the treatment she said that she felt significantly more comfortable, relaxed and had less pain. I spoke to her a couple days later, and she said that the day after acupuncture, she had minimal dental pain and was able to avoid taking pain medication altogether. I was glad that the acupuncture treatment had been so helpful, and I decided to take this opportunity to do some research regarding this subject since it appears that most Americans are unaware of acupuncture’s effectiveness for dental pain.

Research regarding acupuncture for the treatment of dental pain appears to have started in the West in the early to mid 1970’s, but has been a part of Chinese Medicine for centuries. Most research in the West found acupuncture to be effective for dental pain, as well as for temperomandibular joint pain (TMJ) and post surgical dental pain.

Two important review articles that are still referenced today concerning dental pain and acupuncture were published in 1998 by Ernst & Pittler and in 2002 by Ted Kaptchuk. The investigators from these two review articles found that out of sixteen acupuncture trials for the treatment of dental pain, twelve of these trials had adequate methodology and concluded that “good evidence exists that acupuncture is effective for relieving dental pain.”

In my practice, I have found acupuncture to be helpful in managing dental pain. Many patients have described acupuncture to be effective in minimizing acute dental pain, and others have acquired pain relief while waiting for their dentist to perform a root canal. You may wish to consider acupuncture for post surgical dental pain, especially if you are sensitive or allergic to analgesics, or like my colleague, prefer to avoid pain medications altogether. Try using plain clove oil for tooth pain, or the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic’s mouthwash formula made from Chinese herbs that are helpful for gingivitis.

1. Ernst E, Pittler MH: "The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating acute dental pain: a systematic review." Br Dent J 1998, 184:443-447
2. Ernst E, White AR: "Acupuncture as a treatment for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. A systematic review of randomized trials." Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999, 125:269-272
3. Kaptchuk, T: "Acupuncture: Theory, Efficacy, and Practice." Ann Intern Med. 2002; 136:374-383.
4. Lao, L., Bergman, S., Hamilton, G., Langenberg., Berman, B., "Evaluation of acupuncture for pain control after oral surgery, a placebo controlled trial." Arch Otolaryngol Head and Neck Surg. 1999; 125:567-572.
5. Rosted P. "The use of acupuncture in dentistry: a review of the scientific validity of published papers." Oral Dis. 1998;4:100-4.

Friday, June 26, 2009


By M. Cissy Majebe, L.Ac., & Karen Litton, L.Ac.

Cutting teeth is a rite of passage for all babies. The reaction to this experience varies from child to child. It can be an uncomfortable process for the child and the entire family.

Most cases of teething cause mild discomfort to the child, and some sleepless nights for the child and/or parents. In rare cases, a fever can develop that would require attention.

The channels that pass through the gums are related to the Stomach and Large Intestine Meridians in Chinese Medicine. Interestingly, many babies stop eating when they are getting close to teething -- a natural reaction to clear out the digestive system.

If a child has food stagnation in his stomach when teething starts, there will be more distress for the child when the teeth push through. The extra heat associated with the food stagnation in the stomach combines with the heat in the gums to create discomfort for the child during teething.

With teething, there can be an increase in the following symptoms: sore gums, drooling, wakefulness, irritability, mild temperature, diarrhea with foul-smelling stools, and sometimes a poor appetite just before and during teething.

In treatment, if there is heat, then the practitioner will bring down the heat and help clear the accumulation in the stomach. Acupuncture can also effectively reduce the heat and inflammation in the gums.

There are actions you as a parent can take at home to diminish your child’s discomfort. One of these is the stimulation of certain acupressure points, such as the following:
  • Large Intestine 4: located between the thumb and the first finger, on the mound created when you squeeze the thumb to the hand.
  • Stomach 40: located half way down the outer leg between the knee and ankle, about an inch off the shin bone.
  • Stomach 44: in the webbing between the second third toes.
These points can help take the heat out of the gums, Stomach, and Intestines, thus relieving the child’s discomfort.

There are also herbal formulas and essential oils that can ease the child’s teeth discomfort. One of these is lavender oil. For those sleepless nights, rubbing lavender oil on the child’s stomach can be soothing. In addition, the lavender oil can be rubbed on the above mentioned points or chest. Just this oil’s essence can bring relaxation.

There are also herbal pills, one of which is Suan Zao Ren, which can help with those children, or parents, having difficulty sleeping. Suan Zao Ren also comes as a powder or a tincture.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Partnering Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

In July 2008, the CAC had the privilege to participate in a medical continuing education seminar at MAHEC (Mountain Area Health Education Center). The seminar, “Partnering Western Medicine and CAM: An Evidence-Based Approach to Healing,” was eagerly attended by local physicians, nurses, and psychologists. David Trevino and I participated in a panel of presenters. The panel represented the CAM (Complimentary Alternative Medicine) modalities of acupuncture, meditation, Tai Chi, and Healing Touch. After the morning's lecture, break-out sessions provided participants with more in-depth information about the panelists' respective modalities.

I discussed how we should look at current acupuncture research and what type of research we should be looking for in the future. I emphasized the importance of looking at how an acupuncture study has been conducted, what points were chosen, and what the treatment environment was like. I expressed that when we come across a study that has negative findings for the effectiveness of acupuncture that we should not ask ourselves, “Does acupuncture work?” but instead, “What different points could have been chosen for the study?” or “What different clinical environment would have been more appropriate?” The research on acupuncture’s effect in treating pain in animals is enough to demonstrate that it is more than just a placebo.

David shared some compelling research studies that have been done on acupuncture and the treatment of fibromyalgia, infertility, and osteo-arthritic knee pain. The study with the largest sample size was one on the treatment of arthritic knee pain lead by Dr. Berman at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The study contained some of the models we should be looking for in current acupuncture research, comparing a control group, a true acupuncture group, and a placebo acupuncture group. Each group received standard care in addition to being put in one of the acupuncture or control groups. The outcome demonstrated that integrating acupuncture therapy is more effective then standard care alone. We hope to see more studies that compare acupuncture in addition to standard care, as well as acupuncture compared to standard care alone. This type of comparative analysis gives both healthcare consumers and providers better resources for making decisions.

A study that we hope to see in the near future is a comparative analysis of infertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization, versus one year of acupuncture and herbal medicine therapy. Of course, we would like to see the pregnancy rate compared in this study, but there is much more to look at. The cost of the two therapies should be compared, as well as the side effects and the end of treatment quality of life. We believe that it is studies conducting this type of analysis that will help move acupuncture out of the realm of “alternative” treatments and into the realm of standard care.

There is a steady movement of acupuncture into the mainstream of our health care system. We are honored to be a part of that movement by participating in educational seminars. We are also excited about the development of a CAM research study that is currently being designed at MAHEC looking at the effect of CAM treatment on post-chemotherapy fatigue. We have been invited to participate in the design of this project and to give our experienced perspective on the use of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for the treatment of post-chemotherapy fatigue.

We have been invited back again this year, and we are looking forward to participating in this meaningful collaboration.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow & Acupuncture's Relief

By David Trevino, L.Ac.

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis) are common terms used to describe elbow pain due to repetitive overuse of the elbow's extensor and flexor muscles. The name for these injuries originated as they appeared in a high proportion of tennis and golf players.

Today, tennis elbow is also referred to as carpenter's elbow, electrical line epicondylitis, and painter's elbow commonly seen in people who create repetitive movements with their arms in a work setting.

Similarly, golfer's elbow is caused from the overuse of the muscles, which pull the palm of the hand towards the arm eventually injuring the flexor muscles along the inner aspect of the elbow. Activities such as hammering, screw driver use, prolonged hand shaking and computer work contribute to this painful syndrome.

Western medicine views both lateral and medial epicondyle pain to be difficult to treat as the initial repetitive micro-trauma is easily aggravated. The common conventional allopathic treatments for this condition are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections and surgery.

Alternative methods of treatment such as acupuncture have shown significant results in the treatment of elbow pain.

Within the last 20 years several studies have found acupuncture to be more effective in the treatment of elbow pain compared to western medical interventions (Gellman, H. 1996). For example, in the journal, Pain (1983) 21 out of 34 patients who were treated with acupuncture had significant resolution or became completely free of pain. Many of these patients had been given one or more steroid injections previously without improvement. In fact, of the 26 patients in the control group who received steroid injections only 8 reported improvement.

More recent studies confirm acupuncture as an effective therapy for elbow pain and as an excellent alternative to steroid injections. Deighnan (2001) found that 86% of the patients treated for tennis elbow pain with acupuncture had complete resolution or improvement of symptoms. Studies published in 1994 and 2004 in Journal of Rheumatology noted acupuncture to be a, "statistically significant analgesic clinical treatment for elbow pain compared to the placebo acupuncture group."

In summary, western medicine has been interested in acquiring empirical data concerning the efficacy of acupuncture on modern types of injures such as tennis and golfer's elbow pain. Numerous studies confirm acupuncture's effectiveness for these conditions and have found this ancient treatment to be more effective than steroid injections without creating any side effects or worsen the condition of any patient. Acupuncture is definitely well worth trying for this disabling complaint.

General Symptoms of Lateral & Medial Epicondilytis:
· Difficulty holding onto objects
· Difficulty pinching or gripping objects
· Elbow pain & stiffness
· Weakness of wrist of affected elbow
· Minimal elbow movement
· Forearm tightness
· Tenderness on the lateral or medial side of the elbow

1. Rheumatology, 2004, 43(9):1085-1090; doi:10.1093
2. A. Molsberger and E. Hille, Rheumatology, 1996, Vol 33, Number 12, pp. 1162-1165.
3.Brattberg, G., Pain, 1983, Jul. 16(3) 285-8.
4. Deighnan, C., Medical Acupuncture, 2001, Acupuncture for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis in a occupational medicine clinic." Vol 13 (1), pp. 21-22.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Your Children: Their Burns, Bruises & “Owees”

By Junie Norfleet, L.Ac.

The weather warmer, and the children being outside more, brings sunburns, insect bites, scrapes, and bruises.

For the prevention of sunburn, we suggest that you follow the suggestions of Dr. Michael Holick, a vitamin D researcher, who suggests that you determine how long it takes for your skin to turn pink and then spend only ¼ of that time outdoors without protection.

If you stay out longer, apply sunscreen and/or add additional clothing to protect the body. Repeat this several times a week, exposing at least 50% of your body each time. This allows your body to get adequate Vitamin D without being "burned" by the sun.

We suggest you check the website: to investigate safe sunscreen lotions. The first two listed that best meet the study's criteria for safe, low hazard products are:
  • California Baby SPF 30+Sun block Stick No Fragrance
  • Badger SPF 30 Sunscreen
If there is sunburn, the symptoms are:
  • First degree burn - pink skin, some pain, minimal peeling;
  • Second degree burn - significant redness of the skin; in some instances blisters with clear, watery fluid; extreme pain lasting several days; significant peeling;
  • More severe burns - chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, mild dehydration.
In some instances heat stroke can occur with rapid onset symptoms of fever greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, hot skin, confusion and loss of consciousness. Heat exhaustion symptoms are slower in onset and include cold and clammy skin, extreme sweating but no fever. Heat stroke and/or exhaustion occur due to dehydration, so be sure to stay hydrated.

If there are parts of the body that get missed and therefore "burned," the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic carries a burn cream that is excellent to help soothe the burned skin, whether the burn is from the sun or from a stove or campfire. It helps to cool the heat sensation as well as heal the area.

For insect bites, a blend of essential oils including Basil and Cedarwood is available to help reduce the irritation, itching, and pain. If you decide to create a blend for yourself, please be cautious with Basil for prepubescent children and pregnant women, as Basil can exhaust yang qi. To protect yourself and your children from insect bites, diffuse White Camphor oil in the area as an insect repellant, or use a hydrosol of Citronella, Cedarwood, Peppermint, and Geranium.

For scrapes, we suggest that you wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Soaps with essential oils are good to use since all essential oils are antimicrobial. If the scrape is in an area that is going to be hard to heal due to bending of a joint or body part, we suggest using Zi Cao ointment to keep the area soft and pliable while it heals.

For more serious injuries with unbroken skin, we suggest Dit Da tincture. For sprains and strains, we suggest massaging Dit Da on the injured area several times daily. This tincture is wonderful to move stagnant blood and qi and to help the area to heal. The alcohol base causes it to be best for injuries without broken skin.

We at the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic want you and your children to have safe and happy outdoor time. We encourage you to supply your "first aid kits" with some of the above mentioned items to help ensure good health.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Huff Puff Qi Gong

By Blake Crownover, L.Ac.

The Huff Puff Qi Gong DVD instructed by Jeffrey Yuen is available at no charge to the community at the Chinese Acupuncture and Herbology Clinic.

Huff Puff Qi Gong is one of the easiest forms of Qi Gong for a person to learn. Though the exercises are simple they can have a strong dynamic affect on the body.

One can use the exercises to treat anything from jet lag and hypertension to cancer and chronic degenerative diseases.

In China, there have been multiple cases where those who have practiced Huff Puff Qi Gong to treat chronic degenerative diseases have succeeded through regular practice in curing their illness.

When beginning the Huff Puff Qi Gong practice, it is important to consider three main aspects:

1) Breathing
2) Posture
3) Intention


Huff Puff Qi Gong is a form of Qi Gong that focuses particularly on one's breathing technique. Therefore, the diaphragm is a particular focus for these exercises. Contracting the diaphragm (raising one's trunk) with several inhales through one's nose makes a sound like Huff, and dilating the diaphragm (lowering one's trunk) with one's exhale through one's mouth makes a sound like Puff.

In Huff Puff Qi Gong, it is fundamentally important that the inhale Huff is a few short, quick, yet strong breaths in comparison to the exhale Puff which should be one, long, quick, yet strong breath. This breathing strategy enables the practitioner of Huff Puff Qi Gong, to increase the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled, enhancing one's detoxification.


Huff Puff is a form of walking Qi Gong that begins focus on posture by aligning one's body into a particular structure. Structure/posture in Qi Gong is important because it provides an ideal opportunity for the individual to gain awareness of Qi by following a few principles in which the body is more open, receptive and relaxed.

The posture begins by first standing with feet shoulder width apart and then grounding oneself in this posture by dropping one's tailbone. To support this grounding, it is good to place one's intention on KI 1, otherwise known as Bubbling Spring, at the center of the sole of one's foot, and further imagining his/her toes are like roots growing into the ground.

Next, it is important to create a counter balance for this by lifting up at the top of one's head at Du 20, otherwise known as Bai Wei. This lifting and grounding counterbalance creates an environment in which the tension builds at one's center, also known as the abdominal/trunk region.

With the combination of one's tension and breath, the body creates a pumping action that increases circulation at one's center, nourishing his/her viscera/internal organs. This helps cleanse the body of any illnesses that may be present there.

The next important aspect of posture is to place one's thumbs in his/her navel, therefore forming a triangle with his/her hands over one's lower belly. Also known as the lower dante en/elixir field, this elixir field is known in many traditions to be essential for promoting long life when over time one nurtures and stores his/her energy there.


Holding in your mind your personal goals for health makes this exercise as much a meditation, as it is a physical movement.

To receive your FREE Huff Puff Qi Gong DVD, email:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Self-Cultivation: Holding Your Heart in Your Hand

By Junie Norfleet, L.Ac.

Sit or lie quietly with your eyes closed. Take several deep breaths into your lower abdomen, letting each one out slowly. Place one of your hands over your heart. Let it rest there lightly. As it rests over your heart, spend time scanning the body from the head to the feet, front to back, in gratitude for your skin and all that it does to protect you.

Move your attention back to your hand. Imagine that the little finger and ring finger move slowly and gently into the body in a cupping motion. Again, scan the body from the head to the feet, front to back, in gratitude for the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and all that they do to help the body move gracefully, and to help you as you move through life.

Bring your attention back to your hand. Imagine that the middle finger moves into the body to join the other two fingers in the cupping motion. Scan the body from head to feet, front to back, being grateful for the skeleton and all that it does to help support and move your body, and to the system of blood vessels that helps to oxygenate the body and to keep you alive and well.

Move your attention back to your hand. Imagine the ring finger joining the others in the cupping motion around the heart. At this time, the image should be that the fingers are cupped against the back wall of the heart. As you scan the body this time, be grateful to each of the organ systems in the body and each of the special things they do to help you maintain good health.

As your attention goes back to your hand, imagine the little finger as it moves into the body, creating a picture of the heart sitting in the palm of your hand. With the heart sitting in the palm of your hand, appreciate the core of who you are – all of the natural kindnesses that you perform, the loving presence you are to those around you, the joy that you bring to yourself and others, and most of all, the special niche that you offer to the oneness of all things.

Smile at your heart and begin to imagine gently and slowly removing your fingers from around your heart. Let your hand come to rest in your lap. Take several deep breaths into the lower body, with the focus on the bottoms of the feet. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.

This exercise can be done alone, or you can work with a partner. When working with a partner, your hand holds the heart of your partner, while their hand holds your heart. One of you would lead the guided meditation by talking you both through the different steps. It is very important not to rush through this exercise, so that you have time to truly appreciate the wonderful being that you are.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Medicinal Herbs in Your Backyard

By Rachel Nowakowski, L.Ac.

Some people think of Chinese herbs as exotic plants grown only in faraway Asia. But many of the plants used in Chinese Herbal Medicine can easily be grown in Western North Carolina, because the climate is so similar to parts of China.

Many common medicinal plants are as beautiful as they are useful. Examples include Balloon flower (Platycodon), Peony, Buddleia (butterfly bush), and Forsythia.

Balloon flower root (Jie Geng) is traditionally used in prescriptions for lung afflictions including cough, excessive phlegm, and sore throat. We use Peony root (Bai Shao Yao/Chi Shao Yao) to move and nourish blood to treat conditions like skin rashes and menstrual disorders. Buddleia flower (Mi Meng Hua) is helpful for eye conditions including red, painful eyes, excessive tearing, and light sensitivity. Forsythia seed capsule (Lian Qiao) is used to treat heat conditions especially fevers, and swollen lymph nodes.

Of course, some medicinal plants are not as pleasing to have in our yards and gardens. Honeysuckle, dandelion, and kudzu can cause gardeners much misery, but even the most annoying plants have their purposes.

Honeysuckle flowers (Jin Yin Hua) are used to clear heat for fever and infections and is commonly used with Forsythia (Lian Qiao) in cold/flu formulas like Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian. The Honeysuckle leaf and vine (Ren Dong Teng) is used for arthritic joint pain. Dandelion (Pu Gong Yin) is another heat and toxin clearing herb that is used to treat eye conditions and mastitis. Kudzu root (Ge Gen) is an excellent herb for headaches and upper body pain, thirst caused by fever, and diarrhea. The kudzu flowers (Ge Gen Hua) can reduce alcohol cravings and minimize hangovers.

So the next time you are admiring your garden ornamentals or pulling out the weeds, remember their healing energies. When we think of the countless patients helped by these plants over thousands of years of use in Chinese Herbal Medicine, these herbs can be appreciated even more.

Spring Herbal Garden Tea

1 cup lemon balm leaves
1 cup mint leaves
4 tablespoons orange peel – grated

Mix the herbs and store in a glass jar.
For each cup of tea, steep 1 tablespoon of herbal tea mixture in boiling water.

There are a number of varieties of each plant, not all of them are used medicinally. Some medicinal plants need to be processed to reduce toxicity and give them their individual energetics. As with any herbal substance, it is best to consult your practitioner.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cleansing With Chinese Medicine

By Eric Aufdencamp, D.O.M., L.Ac.

Most traditions and cultures around the world employ some type of cleansing regimen for the body and spirit. Some people fast from all solid foods, while others eliminate all animal products. The duration varies greatly depending on the tradition. It may be as little as one day, or up to several weeks.

In Chinese Medicine, we use theory to advise our patients about cleansing protocols, adapted to their particular constitutional weaknesses or strengths.

Chinese Medicine theory believes good health is nurtured by respecting the cycles of nature. For example, the sun is at its peak mid-day and therefore, our digestive ‘heat’ is at its strongest during this time. That is why it is best to eat heavier meals around noon and lighter ones in the evening.

The change of seasons, especially winter to spring and late summer to fall, are ideal times to implement cleansing routines. Your body is more susceptible to illness during these times, so cleansing is an excellent method of prevention.

The therapeutic properties of food and herbs are determined by their flavor. It is ideal to include all of the different flavors in your diet.
  • Bitter, for example clears heat, inflammation and dries excess pathological moisture. Sweet strengthens the digestive system.
  • Sweet flavors, as used in Chinese Medicine, refer to the sweetness of grains, vegetables and legumes.
  • Sour is astringent and stops the leakage of body fluids.
  • Pungent flavors disperse and induce sweating.
  • Salty flavors soften hardness.
These flavors can be incorporated into your diet to balance imbalances, while any flavor used excessively or inappropriately, may create an imbalance.

Dampness in Chinese Medicine refers to an accumulation of moisture in the body and has both external and internal causes. Dampness can manifest in many different ways: yeast infections, nasal congestion, chest congestion, and skin conditions with discharge.

Foods that create dampness include: alcohol, peanuts, concentrated sweeteners and juices, tropical fruits, and wheat and dairy products. Reducing or eliminating these, will reduce the possibility that you will experience damp conditions.

As practitioners, we use these guidelines to determine a tailor-made cleansing regimen for each individual patient, which is based on their specific personal constitution:
  • Weak, cold, thin, nervous constitutions with dry skin and hair should limit their intake of bitter flavors.
  • Overweight people who have a sluggish digestive system or any signs of excess phlegm (chronic nasal congestion, yeast infections, etc.) should limit the intake of sweet foods. Sweet is a beneficial flavor for thin, fatigued, easily startled, and nervous constitutions.
  • Sour astringes and binds so use it cautiously if you are constipated. If you have acute or chronic pain, it may create more tightness in the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
  • Pungent flavors should be used sparingly in dry, nervous, weak, and thin people. Warming pungent flavors (garlic, cloves, hot peppers) should be avoided with any heat signs or inflammation. People that are dull, lethargic or overweight can benefit from this flavor the most.
  • Salty flavors are good for thin, dry, nervous people. Overweight, lethargic people and those with edema (fluid accumulation) should limit their intake of this flavor, which includes seaweeds, barley and millet.
For best results, consult your practitioner so they can customize a protocol for your constitutional needs.

Here is a general cleansing regimen:

Eat only organic fruits and vegetables preferably locally grown and organic whole grains like brown rice, millet, and quinoa. You can also eat sprouted grain bread. Only use cold pressed oils such as olive oil and flax seed oil.

Foods that are restricted:
Sugar, coffee, tea (caffeinated), white flour, refined foods, fried foods, alcohol, soy products, animal products, drugs, peanuts and peanut oil

Foods that aid detoxification:
Beets, artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, mustard greens, beet greens, collard, kale, chard, sprouts, romaine lettuce, sea vegetables, daikon radish, turnips, figs, apples

Signs and Symptoms of detoxification:
Headaches, fatigue, dizziness, “withdrawal” symptoms, emotional processing, rash, runny nose, generalized body aches, “foggy” head.

References: Pitchford, Paul, Healing With Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition, pp. 270-276.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Season For Local Farmers Markets Is Here!

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

Asheville's area farmers' markets are in full swing. Now's the time to take advantage of them, and their increasingly abundant fresh produce. My favorite market to go to is on the UNCA campus. It is called the North Asheville Tail Gate Market.

Reading In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan illustrates to me the importance of the foods I choose to eat and where they come from. Michael Pollan suggests we should: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants” as the answer to the question of what we should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

In our modern time and culture, we have more food choices and diet recommendations then ever before. Many of our modern food choices are industrialized, processed foods with the latest nutritional trend plastered on the cover of the box to persuade us that their product would be the best choice for achieving maximal health.

For example, Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Smoothie boasts itself as a good source of calcium. However, this highly industrialized food contains so much processing, and the end product contains such highly refined grains, food coloring and preservatives, any nutrients that have been added during processing are outweighed by the ill effects of this processing. Can we really call this food or is this imitation food?

As a parent, I am distressed by how many processed food products target children and their parents for the fun and convenience of them.

Michael Pollan suggests these guidelines for defining a product as food versus imitation food:

1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize.

2. Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.

3. Avoid food products that make health claims.

4. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. (Produce, meat, fish and dairy line the walls of most grocery stores, while the more processed foods are found in the center.)

5. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. (This is where the farmer’s market, gardening and wild-crafting come into play.)

This season visit your local farmers' markets weekly. You will be supporting your local economy and making the best food choice possible: real food.

Shopping at the farmers' market also provides us with a needed diversity of food in our diet. The foods that are available at the market will change with the seasons, and the abundance of products that are harvested by the farmer during the growing season typically makes the farmers' market prices cheaper than the supermarket.

Click here for a list farmer’s markets in our area.

I hope to see you there!