Canyon Ranch Speaks: A Look Within
When was the last time you really looked at your tongue? Did you know that all tongues are not the same? They often vary in size, shape, color, coating, and geographic features. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, all the variations indicate imbalances in your body’s energy flow.
Every medical field has to have a way to ‘see’ into the body. Western medicine uses CAT-scans, MRI, X-Rays, and blood work. Chinese medicine has other tools, including tongue diagnosis. Each feature variation on the tongue guides our understanding of how and where your health is blocked, inhibiting you from feeling your best.
In my practice at Canyon Ranch, I look at tongues all day long. The tongue mirrors your internal conditions. A tongue that is bright red often means something very different than one that is pale with a thick white coating. A tongue with toothmarks on the side can yield a different diagnosis than a tongue with a crack near the tip.
The ‘ideal’ tongue is one that is pink, with a thin white coating and good moisture, without any major cracking, toothmarks, or swelling. If your tongue doesn’t look like that, your energy may not be flowing optimally. Whether I’m selecting herbal medicines or acupuncture points, the tongue helps me to choose the most appropriate and specific ones for my patients.
By James Rohr, D.O.M
Chinese Medicine Practitioner at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach
Believe it or not, exercise can be enjoyable, productive and even mentally stimulating! The body is the part of us that interacts with the environment through movement. The body has an innate intelligence that constantly looks to improving the efficiency of its operations, conserve energy and maximize resources.
The body, like the mind, constantly craves to learn. Part of the fun in learning new information is experiencing how its application can benefit your life.
Early movement evolution began when you learned to crawl and advanced to: walking, running, skipping, bounding and so on. Evolution continued as we entered gyms and exercise classes where new movements were learned such as: squatting, lunging, pressing, lifting etc…
Your movement evolution needs to continue. To change, grow and learn, the body needs to experience stimulation through new movements that it is not used to performing. From this, the desired results of increased metabolism, decreased fat and improved aesthetics will arise. More importantly, your health and longevity will improve and you will be on your way to feeling younger.
Jeffrey A. Dolgan, M.S., RCEP, HFI, BXMO
Clinical Exercise Physiologist at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach
Last Saturday most people around the country set their clocks back one hour. Here in Massachusetts it will start getting dark at about 5pm. Many people dread the disappearing daylight and the five months of cold, dark days that will follow. At Northern latitudes many people experience a lower mood, irritability, decreased energy, and changes in appetite, starting around now and lasting until spring.
If you find that your mood bottoms out when the days get shorter, here a several strategies to boost your spirits through the fall and winter:
- Make your seasonal mood-boosting plan now, including light, exercise, social contact and constructive attitude adjustment. Get to know what works best for you and build it into your life. For instance, some people find a mid-winter trip to a sunny climate helps them make it through the season. Others find their salvation on the ski slopes or at the gym, or in coming together with friends and family.
- Let there be light! Getting exposure to sunlight can be a powerful way to boost your mood. In fact, on a sunny day, the brightness outdoors is many times greater than the light emitted from a high intensity light fixture. If you can go out for a walk when the sun is out, put on your overcoat and get outside. Don’t be daunted by the cold, but do be careful in sub-zero temperatures to protect yourself from frostbite.
- If you can’t get outdoor light, consider a high intensity indoor light fixture. Thirty minutes of exposure a day has been found to be effective for most people who suffer from low moods in the fall and winter.
- Get moving! Boosting your exercise in the winter can provide a powerful lift to your mood and your energy. If your climate or job makes it difficult to get outside during the day, find ways to work out at home or the gym.
- Eat for energy throughout the fall and winter, combining protein and complex carbohydrates. Limit your consumption of alcohol, sugar and high fat foods, all of which may temporarily lift your mood and then leave you feeling tired soon after.
- Change your thoughts. Learning to think less negatively will help improve your mood. If you notice yourself feeling less peppy or enthusiastic during the winter, you can accept that feeling as a normal response to the dark and cold of winter without getting down on yourself about it. You can also respond to negative thoughts like “I hate winter”, “I can’t deal with this”, or “Winter is never going to end” with “I know what to do to feel better”, and “Winter is a challenge and I become stronger by meeting the challenge”.
- Reach out. When the outer world is colder and darker, your connections with friends and family offer love, warmth and stimulation.
- Reach in. Your inner life can be a source of strength and inspiration when the forces of nature lie dormant. Prayer, meditation, and inspirational reading provide inner light that can illuminate your journey through the darker days of fall and winter.
- If you are experiencing seasonal depression that is impairing your ability to function, or if you have had a pattern of serious recurrent seasonal depression, consult with a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker or mental health counselor who has experience with seasonal affective disorder.
Jeff Rossman, Ph.D.
Director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox
Arthritis affects 46 million Americans – about one of every four of us. In previous generations, the effects of arthritis were considered simply as part of aging. That meant no one allotted much time or thought to management of the symptoms.
Now we can use methods such as brain imaging to look at the effects of pain and at the effects of cognitive and mindfulness techniques on pain.
Some of the newest research has differentiated physical pain from the mental anguish caused by our response to pain. Simply put, we can focus on the physiology of the pain – how it feels on our bodies, in our bodies. We can also focus on how “old” the pain makes us feel, how scared we are of the pain, how betrayed we feel by our bodies, or how sad we feel to be burdened with the pain, in this case the pain of arthritis.
By focusing merely on the reality of chronic physiological pain, we remove the other layers and allow our awareness to decipher the pain. This is different from “wallowing” in the pain, which is emotional – or enjoying pain, which is also an aberrant response. It is simply focusing on why the pain starts and ends – and the heat, sharpness, throbbing, itching, and stretching of it. In this way, you come to know your pain rather than succumbing to it. Mindfulness techniques are very useful with this manner of dealing with pain.
The opposite way to deal with pain is to distract yourself by engaging in an array of alternative activities that move focus from the pain into a healthy area. Imagine the patient who may have painful arthritis in the knee area, but finds great pleasure in knitting and forgets about the pain. This utilizes another ability of the brain to focus. (Yes, so much of our lives are based on ability to focus.) By focusing on the yarn and the repetitive knotting that is knitting, the focus is removed from the knee pain, bringing a respite from the irritation, the inflammation, the sensation.
The bottom line is choosing to focus on the pain while removing yourself from the emotional baggage or distracting yourself from pain by focusing on other activities using body parts that are not compromised.
Helpful choices: Experiment and teach yourself about focusing. And as always in our world check out the Internet – see mindfulness.com for some good beginning ideas.
Ann M. Pardo, MA, LPC
When arthritis inflames within or around a joint, the result is an intense experience of pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function. With an expert clinician, we can understand the type of arthritis and its relationship to inflammation. Regrettably, the results of prescriptions to block the inflammation process may meet with mixed results. This was my experience when I severely injured my knee when running from first to second base (no, I was not playing baseball but instead a “friendly” game of kickball). Despite many great options from many physicians and therapists, my life had been humbled with the talk of me taking a desk job or being placed on disability.
Although I had honored the opportunities to prevent illness with a balanced lifestyle, I was about to learn of its power to offer health and healing as I shared time with many different experts in the field of Integrative Medicine. They complemented the healing opportunities offered by my team of world class physicians and in some cases much beyond. Thus, on my path to health and healing, I am blessed to have been guided by experts in the fields of:
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractoric Medicine
- Neuromuscular Therapy
- McKenzie Therapy
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Food Sensitivities
- Healing Touch
- Core Strengthening
- Aquatic Therapy
- Interval Training
- Comprehensive Strength Training
- Massage and Body Treatments
- Tai Chi
- Qi Gong
- Expressive Arts
- Breathing Exercises
Having been immersed in such an experience of Integrative Medicine, I have learned of opportunities to be incorporated on a daily basis as well as the great tools in times of illness and injury. As a physician and as a patient, my life has changed as a result of arthritis and integrative medicine—and for the better… The opportunity to practice medicine at Canyon Ranch and be part of focused health weeks such as Thriving with Arthritis Week is truly special. I hope that you can seek the spectrum of options and the hope that they offer.
Cheers to your health,
As a medical doctor, I truly love being an internal medicine physician for it has often been called the foundation for which modern medicine has been built. Yet I also know from experiences as a clinician and as a patient that the benefits of therapy and treatments can vary from individual to individual. One of my favorite quotes to share on medical rounds was Abraham Maslov’s words of wisdom:
“If your tool is hammer then you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
Thus, the journey of health and healing requires that we have a tool belt with additional options and opportunities. We call this ‘tool belt’ an integrative medicine approach. Today, integrative medicine blends classically trained M.D. physicians with nutritionists, chefs, exercise physiologists, fitness instructors, behavioral psychologists, chiropractors, neuromuscular therapists, Chinese medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, energy medicine practitioners, massage therapists, nature guides, and expert instructors of dance, yoga, qi gong, & tai chi.
As a integrative medicine physician and patient, it is simply special to be part of a robust and engaging experience while being honored as a truly unique and whole person in the realms of mind, body and spirit. The ability to address the challenges of both sickness and illness while always promoting the joy of wellness, health and prevention allows for a special journey. Wishing you the opportunity to wear a tool belt of health and healing.
Cheers to your health,
Arthritis is a condition of inflammation in or around a joint. By understand inflammation, we better understand arthritis. For starters, the word inflammation originates from the Latin inflammare which means “to set on fire.” Inflammation is a term that is centuries old that is used to describe the constellation of dolor (pain), calor (heat), rubio (redness), tumor (swelling) and functio laesa (loss of function). Despite this seemingly straight forward definition, it has not always been clear how to treat and heal someone of the challenges due to inflammation. Therefore, we first need to appreciate the role of inflammation.
Inflammation is an important aspect of our immune system to promote healing for it recruits the body’s defense system in the setting of an injury. However, there is a fine line that may be crossed such that inflammation may attack our bodies as it may promote further injury and disease progression. The question of whether inflammation is helpful or harmful to healing can only be answered after inflammation is defined based on set of events and history that has lead up to its collection of symptoms. Whereas use of anti-inflammatory prescriptions for arthritis are the cornerstone of medical science and clinical practice, their ability to control pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function has met with mixed results.
It was a revelation to me when I learned that my left knee inflammation responded to “anti-inflammatory living.” Although I have always appreciated the advice for routine medical checkup, and a balanced lifestyle that incorporates joy, good nutrition, proper exercise, and restorative sleep, it was upon immersing myself and honoring these pillars of health and healing to a greater degree that I have had a profound impact on my inflammation. Today my knee inflammation serves as teacher to me that has forever changed my course on both a personal as well as a professional level. It is truly an honor to be part of the Thriving with Arthritis Week at Canyon Ranch as I can appreciate the challenges of arthritis as well as the hope of balanced living.
Cheers to your health,
When we think about arthritis, most of us imagine a situation in which the shock absorbing quality of cartilage that covers the ends of bones is deteriorated in a joint. As a result, we have a condition where there is bone-on-bone grinding against one another resulting in pain and loss of movement. This describes the most common form of arthritis known as osteoarthritis. It is important to note that many other forms of arthritis exist since their progression and treatment needs greatly vary. Other forms of arthritis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis results in joint lining inflammation due to the body’s immune system activity. Normally the immune system targets that which is foreign to the body. However, in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks and injures our cells, tissues and organs.
- Gout, a defect in body chemistry, creates a painful condition most often attacking small joints, especially the big toe.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine, results from an inflammatory process that leads to the bones of the spine to grow together.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus) can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body.
- Fibromyalgia presents as widespread pain while affecting the muscles and tissues that attaches to bones.
So as you can appreciate from the above description that not all arthritis shows itself in the same way. During our Thriving with Arthritis Week at Canyon Ranch, it is part of our focus to appreciate the uniqueness of arthritis with each individual and to determine the underlying cause of arthritis. It is important to share time with a medical expert in understand the underlying causes of the pain, heat, swelling, redness and loss of function. Simply put, the correct diagnosis leads to the correct approach to healing and health.
Cheers to your health,
Among the greatest joys that I have in being a physician is sharing in people’s journeys and hearing their story. Throughout the day, I am an audience to uplifting stories and celebration, and at other times, ones of heart break and frustration. Being both a doctor and a patient has given me many lessons in seeking joy and opportunities regardless of the challenges that seemingly stand tall.
When reviewing medical histories, I am humbled by the arthritis stories of work disability and the limits imposed on daily activities. In reviewing medication lists, I can appreciate the fact that well over a billion dollars is spent every year on prescription pills for arthritis. To better understand and treat arthritis, medical science has broadened the discussion to include the body’s connective tissues. Simply put, connective tissues are those that “connect” our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Today, arthritis refers to more than 100 different diseases that affect areas in or around joints.
We find that when patients are given the opportunity to fully tell their story that the diagnosis becomes more transparent. Regrettably, quick stories lead to quick answers that are often limited. In my journey, upon telling the complete story of my left knee to fully invested healers, I started back towards the path of health and wellness. Thus, I wish for you to tell your story fully as you partner with an expert clinician as you reconnect with joy and robust living. During our upcoming Thriving with Arthritis Week at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, our Department of Health and Healing will be the setting for many such stories as part of the journey of healing the pains and challenges of arthritis.
Cheers to your health,
Today, there are nearly 50 million US adults who hold the burden of arthritis. Therefore, this means there are 1 in 5 who seek to limit their load of frequent pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function. In understanding arthritis, we see that it simply is a word that connects “arthro-” (a prefix meaning joint) and “–itis” (a suffix referring to inflammation). However, this is much more than simply a word to me as both a medical doctor and a person who moves with arthritis on a daily basis.
Half of all Americans with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to help them—this is sadly incorrect as there is much that can be done to assist in reducing the progression and allowing us to reconnect to our daily lives. I am excited to share that in our upcoming Thriving with Arthritis Week at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, we will be exploring the opportunities for arthritis. We will be exploring modern medicine with a team of expert rheumatologists. In addition, we will be highlighting the truly hopeful opportunities from nutrition, herbals, supplements, movement on land and in the water, quality sleep to promote repair and lessen pain, and above all, the ways to connect with joy on a daily basis.
In this upcoming series of blogs, we will talk about the different types of arthritis, the impact of inflammation, and the opportunities with integrative medicine. Moreover, I look forward to sharing my experience both as a patient and as a physician. At one time, I saw my knee injury as a curse for it truly sidelined me and the life that I was living, but over the years, it has become among my greatest teachers and has placed me on journey of much health and wellness. I look forward to sharing our journeys.
Cheers to your health,