Friday, October 29, 2010

Healing Mantra "Let Go" by HH

Getting ready to sign out for Shabbat but one juicy learning before I go. I learned today about the benefit of the Tryambakam mantra for learning to let go of something that's in the way of your realizing divine capacity, and wanted to share it with you. Here it is chanted so movingly by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

महामृत्युंजय मंत्र

This mantra is also known as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Learn it in Sanskrit and chant it to yourself, or do what this busy mom does: listen intently while going about your day.

The intention is that it helps you restore life and let go of what needs to be released to move to the next step.

Here is the simple translation, from Wikipedia:

We Meditate on the Three-eyed reality which nourishes and increases the sweet fullness of life. Like a cucumber from its stem may we be separated ("liberated"), not from immortality but from death.

Word to Word Meaning of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
  • Tryambakam = the three-eyed one (accusative case)
  • Yajamahe = We worship, adore, honor, revere
  • Sugandhim = sweet smelling, fragrant (accusative case)
  • Pushti = A well-nourished condition, thriving, prosperous, fullness of life
  • Vardhanam = One who nourishes, strengthens, causes to increase (in health, wealth, well-being); who gladdens, exhilarates, and restores health; a good gardener
  • Urvarukam = cucumber(accusative case)
  • Iva = like, just as
  • Bandhanan = stem (of the gourd);(ablative case "from the stem"- the ending is actually long a then -d which changes to n/anusvara through sandhi)
  • Mrityor = From death
  • Mukshiya = Free us, liberate us
  • Ma = not
  • Amritat = Immortality, emancipation
Here's the transliteration, for the chanters among us:
tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam
urvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyor mukṣīya māmṛtāt
Happy emancipation!

Natural Dye Workshop -

Just in case you're interested - this is part of my documentation process!

Join us January 30, 2010 for the next Natural Dye Buffet! Add yourself to our email list for the details.

Special thanks to Rebecca Burgess and the talented, soulful women who joined us yesterday in my yard!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alchemist Next Door: Create Clothes That Heal

Hokahay! Today is a fine day to dye - natural dye, that is, in the back yard of our LEED-Platinum green home with a group of intrepid women gathered to learn about natural dye and integrative medicine. Our group - moms, artists, gardeners, professors, activists - learned first about the toxic and completely unsustainable conventional clothing industry, and then dived deep into another model. That model, introduced to me by Eco-Artist Rebecca Burgess, is about creating clothes that heal, clothes that are radically local, and rather than harming you through your skin and also the workers who make them, they leave no impact, no residue, no or very little carbon footprint.

Above you see the range of color that Rebecca has gathered locally from plants such as black walnut, horsetail, indigo, cosmos, sage, and eucalyptus.

We made a vat of dried cosmos and added boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes and it's ready - rather like tea....

I love the black walnuts, gathered by urban foraging (below).

Here are some of the menu items in our dye buffet: horsetail, madrone, coffeeberry, logwood, black walnut, cosmos and coreopsis.

We dyed some local wool in Logwood (below).

Here is some silk long underwear and a scarf from the Logwood dye vat that I did.

We're planning our next workshop on January 30. Join our mailing list for more details. This will be a workshop for those who want more advanced training or want to learn the basics.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Note to Self: Stop Attacking Thyroid

Do you make antibodies against your thyroid? 38% of patients do.

Many of us eye our thyroid with great malice as we bounce around with our TSHs and thyroid symptoms owing to autoimmune thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto's, named after the Japanese man who described it years ago). Turns out we may be eye-ing the wrong system. It's actually the overzealous immune system that is to blame, and your thyroid is the innocent victim of the infiltrating immune infantry.

Really? How often are we talkin’?

Just read a study of women who came to an integrative medicine practice in Texas – 38% of them, many with no symptoms yet, had positive antibodies to their thyroid.

Yikers. We’re talkin’ common. If you’ve been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism that later normalized or have a TSH that is all over the map despite steady treatment, consider this possibility.  Having an elevation in your thyroid antibodies goes by many names – autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s (after the Japanese dude who first described it), chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis (which sounds a little too close to lymphoma for my taste).

Break It Down for Me, Doc: What Does It Really Feel Like?
What I see most often among women with autoimmune thyroiditis is palpitations (due to their thyroid getting stimulated by the antibodies). Some women have a lovely yin/yang flip between depression/fat/exhausted/no libido/can’t crap to anxiety/can’t sleep/palpitations. Others have swelling of their thyroid – diffuse, mild enlargement as the gland fills with white blood cells called lymphocytes.

Gender Inequity
Like most autoimmune conditions, when your immune system gets into overdrive and starts attacking your own tissues as if they were the enemy, women are disproportionately affected.  This applies to celiac, lupus, Grave’s, and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. In fact, we outnumber men with autoimmune disease by 3:1. Why is this so? First thing that comes to my mind is our estrogen/progesterone balance and estrogen dominance – turns out estrogen dominance, too much estradiol compared to progesterone, is a key cause of autoimmunity. Pregnancy also appears to put us at greater risk – perhaps because of our exposure of our immune system to our fetus’ cells.

Who You Calling Titer?
Do you know your antibody count (or titer, your level of thyroid peroxidase antibodies, known affectionately as TPO, and thyroglobulin antibodies)? Do you have a program either to keep the titer low or lower the elevated titer you have?

Say you have a TPO of 500… let’s explore ways to get the titer down, which will make your thyroid ride far more manageable and predictable. 

Drop That TPO
How do you get your immune system to back off, which we can measure as decreased antibody count? Rather than stop it in its tracks, as we do in conventional medicine with big guns like steroids, I prefer to look at root causes and focus on reducing inflammation. Inflammation = bad.
One strategy that’s incredibly effective is simple: give thyroid hormone. In a study of folks with autoimmune thyroiditis and normal TSH, half got thyroid medication and the other half got nothing’. Those who got thyroid treatment had lower antibody counts after one year.

There are many additional strategies, many aimed at trying to get your immune system to chill the F out. Here’s how they roll.
  • Nutrition: Go gluten-free & avoid other food allergens. Test for food allergens if you’re uncertain either in blood or with the poor woman’s test: the elimination diet. Gluten is a common allergen and causes autoimmune responses in many people. Here’s the data: 30% of folks with autoimmune thyroiditis have gluten sensitivity. To read more on this – google “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
  • Hormones: Guess what? Endocrine probs lead to overactive immune function. Correct estrogen dominance as the main strategy here.
  • Adrenals: I know you're shocked to read that high cortisol makes your immune system go into overdrive. Buffer your cortisol - get in the normal range and stay there as a general life strategy - and your muffin top improves along with your thyroid numbers.
  • Supplements: Selenium at doses of 200mcg per day has been shown both to reduce antibodies and to return them to normal in some people. 
For more details on how to diagnose autoimmune thyroiditis, check out Mary Shomon’s superb books and website. Here’s one link.

TTFN - time to take my selenium.

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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.