Thursday, June 24, 2010

Organic Skin: Minimum 3-Step Routine?

Just had my second facial at Barbarella Beauty Salon in Berkeley. Came away with glowing skin and an honorary PhD in Age-Management from their esthetician, Rachel Nordman. My main focus? Tell me the minimum that I need to do to stave off aging of our largest organ, the skin. I found her recommendations surprising, affordable and easy to integrate into my jam-packed life. As Rachel puts it: "This isn't your grandmother's skin routine."

We're blessed here in the Bay Area to have Rachel as a local. She's an international trainer (one of 3 for an organic skin care line I like, Eminence) rockin' our faces and helping us with prevent/treat wrinkles, enormous pores, acne, rosacea, and any of the other less desirable skin conditions you may be facing.

I often find that my patients are eating organic, washing their hair with organic shampoos but then slather on non-organic skin care products. We need to change that, folks! Your skin absorbs a ton of hormonally-active badness including lauryl sulfates, parabens and other endocrine disruptors - go organic here too.

Isn't her skin gorgeous?

Here's Rachel's recommendations, which may surprise you.
1. Focus on serums. This is where the real change happens. Much more potent and stays on your skin longer than cleanser. More concentrated that moisturizer. For my skin at age 43, she recommends either a Vitamin C serum or what I purchased, Blackberry Pore Refining Serum. For me, it's all about smallering the pores.
2. Change your masquing attitude. Rachel favors 3-10 min while you're in the shower twice/week. No more thick clay hard stuff for 20 min like when I was coming of age. "Apply it like a layer of panty hose." OK, I don't wear panty hose but I get your drift. She suggested that you apply it when you first get in the shower, after cleansing, and do your shower deeds (shampoo, conditioner, shave those legs, exfoliate elsewhere, receive hydrotherapy's grace, whatever) and then rinse off. Toner if you're an over-achiever (I am not when it comes to the skin), then moisturize and add sun protection.
3. Get your eye cream on. I'm a minimalist but it turns out that the skin around the eyes (below and above) is the thinnest, and shows aging the soonest! Who knew?

Her 3-step process:
1. Cleanse.
2. Serum.
3. Moisturizer.
In the shower, add on the 3-10 min masque. No need to be a martyr: 3 min is better than none.

More on serums: they are "are your most concentrated products that penetrate the skin the deepest. So they're corrective," according to Rachel.  Eminence serums are "made with liposome technology, so they're taking tiny molecules and piggybacking beneficial ingredients and delivering them deeper into the skin. So if you want to lighten hyperpigmentation or heal acne or pore refining or deliver hyaluronic acid, serums are the best way to go." For acne, Eminence has an herbal spot serum which has anise, which is antibacterial and burberry extract which helps with acne scaring. More on what the vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid offers to aging skin in a future post.

I'm trying out lots of new organic skin care lines, so drop a line or comment if you have a favorite. We carry Osmosis at the Gottfried Center, and I'm always interested in trying new ones. Eminence has captured my fancy because I'm curious about the biodynamic ingredients - do they or don't they make a difference? - and I love the company's commitment to green.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lakshmi: Inner Divinity

It's Goddess Monday for this gynecologist, and today I'm working with Lakshmi, one of the forms of the mother goddess in Hindu mythology. She is the goddess of fortune and wealth and is often called, "Sri," which translates from Sanskrit as elegance, sacredness, radiant power and prosperity. I think of her as manifesting soul prosperity, and helping me to align with my inner divine contentment regardless of my externals.

We all have the innate capacity to connect to our Sri or inner Lakshmi -- it is our birthright.  According to UC Berkeley Sanskrit scholar Christopher Wallis, Lakshmi teaches us that the "inner state of feeling that you have enough creates the experience of prosperity in your outer life, not the other way around. No matter how much time, money and love you have, you will always feel as though it's not enough until you can evoke and honor the Sri within you."

Lakshmi is depicted with four arms: usually with two hands holding a lotus, one hand pouring forth gold coins, and the fourth poised in a gesture of blessing. The lotus is a symbol of purity and fertility as it grows with great beauty from mud.

What does Lakshmi represent hormonally to me? Intuition, which I believe is a form of inner divine guidance. Lakshmi is in a place of clear knowing that her intuition is sacred and pure, and that stems in part from her hormonal balance - internal manifestation of the right amount of cortisol, the right amount of thyroid hormone, estrogen and progesterone in balance - in sum, balanced and poised for action from a place of deep contentment.

For more reading, check out Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen's famous book (mostly on Greek Goddess archetypes).

Goddesses in Every Woman: New Psychology of Women

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stress Resilience....

Our ability to cope with stress peaks at 25 & 65. Where does that leave us in-betweeners? Perimenopause in particular catapults into a state of half our normal stress resilience, mostly due to the hormonal chaos of wildly fluctuating estrogen and dropping progesterone levels.

Recently I offered an interactice teleconference for Up2yoga on Stress Resilience. Listen to the podcast right here. Learn natural ways of creating more stress buoyancy with adrenal support and balancing your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). Join me for our next interactive teleconference on July 8, 2010 at 10am from anywhere in the world for $1 right here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Home Yoga Practice - Vira Sadhana - Amp Up Energy for 30 days

I get inspired by writing and committing to Sacred Contracts as a way of refreshing, enlivening and emboldening my commitment to spiritual unfolding. As a recovering engineer, let's put it another way: I'm amping up the current in my spiritual circuit, my conduit for divine inspiration in my life. Here is my contract to the Vira Sadhana for the next 30 days, as inspired by Shiva Rea.

Here's my contract:

I, Sara Emly Gottfried, agree to undertake an intensive, guided encounter with the fire of tapas - my own heat, creativity and divine feminine nature for the next 30 days. I commit to daily reading, daily writing, daily meditation, and daily yoga along with a weekly day of deep listening, nurturing and connection (Goddess Mondays).

I further understand that the issues and challenges of this sacred work require superb self-care: restorative sleep, enlightened nutrition, hormonal balance, daily exercise and robust pampering. This will provide the foundation I need to support Vira Sadhana without the need for caffeine or stress. I make an unwavering commitment to the discipline needed for the most effective transformation and transmutation to occur.

This contract begins tonight at sundown with the emergence of the new moon on June 12, 2010

Sara Gottfried, MD

What's in your Sacred Contract? Is it stale? Does it need to be re-visited, freshened up? For inspiration, check out Shiva Rea's teleconference right here on Up2Yoga for $1.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Starting Tomorrow Night - Channeling Shiva Rea

I love this teacher of mine - Shiva Rea. She taught a terrific workshop last July that you can download right here (for $1) on how to target your home contemplative practice to what your body | mind | spirit most needs. I'm seeking deep, divine feminine inspiration and want to harness my energy more fully, so I'm invoking the "Vira" sadhana. Shiva suggests starting with the new moon (tomorrow night, folks). Listen to her recording for more details, and join me.

Signing out for Shabbat Unplugged.

Krill Oil 48x Better Than Fish Oil?

Did you take your omega 3s today? There is no better proven supplement. Prevents ADD, depression, bipolar, heart disease, and painful periods. New insights - totally dug this article I found on Tim Ferriss' blog - check it out: Krill Oil 48x Better Than Fish Oil?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Migraines: Triggers from Foods & Additives

Many of my patients with migraines recognize that certain foods are a trigger for them, but I found this list provided by Wikipedia to be especially thorough, so I thought I'd share it. If you suffer from migraines, it may be worthwhile to follow an elimination diet to avoid all of these toxins, and to slowly add them back in, one at a time, watching carefully for 72 hours for a migraine or other allergic response.

Besides food and additives, there are many other triggers for the migraine generator, including changing hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, thyroid in particular the 7-10 days before menstruation and sometimes just after).

Gluten is a toxin for many of us, even if you don't have the classic allergic response of indigestion, diarrhea and bloating.

Check it out (and click here to go to Wikipedia to check out the citations).

Gluten One food elimination that has proven to reduce or eliminate migraines in a percentage of patients is gluten. For those with (often undiagnosed) celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivity, migraines may be a symptom of gluten intolerance. One study found that migraine sufferers were ten times more likely than the general population to have celiac disease, and that a gluten-free diet eliminated or reduced migraines in these patients.[21] Another study of 10 patients with a long history of chronic headaches that had recently worsened or were resistant to treatment found that all 10 patients were sensitive to gluten. MRI scans determined that each had inflammation in their central nervous systems caused by gluten-sensitivity. Seven out of nine of these patients that went on a gluten-free diet stopped having headaches completely.[22]
Aspartame While some people believe that aspartame triggers migraines, and anecdotal evidence is present, this has not been medically proven.[23]
MSG MSG is frequently reported as a dietary trigger (12%).[24] In a placebo-controlled trial, monosodium glutamate (MSG) in large doses (2.5 grams) taken on an empty stomach was associated with adverse symptoms including headache more often than was placebo.[25][26] However another trial found no effect when 3.5g of MSG was given with food.[27]
Tyramine The National Headache Foundation has a specific list of triggers based on the tyramine theory, detailing allowed, with caution and avoid triggers.[28] However, a 2003 review article concluded that there was no scientific evidence for an effect of tyramine on migraine.[29]
Other A 2005 literature review found that the available information about dietary trigger factors relies mostly on the subjective assessments of patients.[23] Some suspected dietary trigger factors appear to genuinely promote or precipitate migraine episodes, but many other suspected dietary triggers have never been demonstrated to trigger migraines. The review authors found that alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, and missing meals are the most important dietary migraine precipitants, that dehydration deserved more attention, and that some patients report sensitivity to red wine. Little or no evidence associated notorious suspected triggers like chocolate, cheese, histamine, tyramine, nitrates, or nitrites with migraines. However, the review authors also note that while general dietary restriction has not been demonstrated to be an effective migraine therapy, it is beneficial for the individual to avoid what has been a definite cause of the migraine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Women Becoming Unstuck

A wonderful patient of mine is particularly connected to her intuitive power and deep feminine, and I wanted to share her insightful response to an eblast I sent out several months ago in which I recommended a book - Unstuck by Dr. Jim Gordon, MD.

My patient, let's call her Fleur, was willing to let me post her response to my query: What about the book worked for you? How does it help you buffer your mood? I loved what she wrote and asked her permission to share it with you. Here's her response:

 I wanted to answer you about your question what worked for me in this book, Unstuck.

Here's what I found:

I like that the author asks you to tap into your creative/intuitive sides. Some of what he suggests is downright odd, but maybe I don't resist this kind of thing as much as I once did because I see it can work. I am willing to try dancing and shaking and asking an inner guide for help and these various other methods he suggests. He balances it out, too, by referring to scientific studies and his writing has a rational sounding voice, so it doesn't go overboard in this direction.

He says a lot of the same things I read/hear you say, and it helps to have the messages reinforced. His vitamin/supplement suggestions are quite close to yours. He is a believer in healthy bowels as a way to good physical and mental health, and he doesn't shy away from saying it.

Other suggestions of Gordon's I liked were to write in a journal every day and to look toward your dreams for clues.

What may have been the most help for me is his attitude that there is hope for recovery from depression, and that the changes in one's brain from depression can be reversed. He believes the brain has a lot of capacity for healing and growth and that this can be done without drugs. Let's hear it for neuroplasticity.

I am in agreement and inspired by this book, but I still don't know how to shift the external stresses in my life and in living in general so that I can really make these suggestions work, but that is where the challenge lies... probably not just for me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

goodbye to my period

while i'm not there yet, i am drawn to this gorgeous poem by lucille clifton. i'm planning a huge party for my one-year anniversary after my final menstrual period, and you're all invited. we don't sufficiently honor these important rites of passage for women: final period, miscarriage, abortion. thank you, fleur, dear patient of mine, for introducing me to this lovely poet and choosing an appropriate quilt to match!

to my last period
well girl, goodbye,
after thirty-eight years.
thirty-eight years and you
never arrived
splendid in your red dress
without trouble for me
somewhere, somehow.

now it is done,
and i feel just like
the grandmothers who,
after the hussy has gone,
sit holding her photograph
and sighing, wasn't she
beautiful? wasn't she beautiful?

            -Lucille Clifton

From Lucille Clifon's book Quilting: Poems, 1987-1990 (BOA, 1991)

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.