Summer Self-Care

By: Amanda Gawrysz, L.Ac, MSOM

Milwaukee is known as the Midwest’s best kept secret. The winters can be without a doubt long and dark, but the summers here are a time for farmers markets, street fairs, outdoor concerts, and hitting the beach.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our goal is to balance four substances. These substances include Qi, blood, yin, and yang. The focus here will be on the principle of yin and yang specifically. Conceptually yin is rest, slowness, darkness, feminine, and quiet. Conceptually yang is moving, active, rising, masculine, forceful, and light. The summer season is known in TCM as the most yang time of the year. Summer time with its yang energy also corresponds to heat and the element of fire. As our kids are out of school and we begin engaging in many fun outdoor activities and vacations, the external environment is also very hot and damp which can cause the body to acquire extra heat. This heat causes our body’s to dry out leading to dry skin, constipation, and lack of fluid in the body which is known as a deficiency in our yin energy. The fire element is also associated with the color red, emotion of joy, bitter taste, and with the heart and the small intestine organs. In addition to this, TCM practitioners are well aware that our heart houses our “shen” or spirit/mind. Adding on the environmental heat, eating spicy foods, drinking more alcohol, and expanding so much energy we are like firecrackers waiting to be lit and ready to explode. Once this fire element is out of balance issues with insomnia, mental disturbances, and anxiety can arise.

It is essential to balance the yang with yin energy in all areas of our lives. I am sure you have heard people say, “everything in moderation.” This is a general and very basic principle behind Chinese medicine. Why? Because yin and yang are interchangeable aspects. Chinese philosophy describes this concept brilliantly with the yin and yang symbol showing how two opposing and separate forces can also be interconnected and interdependent. A small piece of each is shown within each other, therefore, one cannot exist without the other.

How can we live a more balanced and healthier life during the summer months? Nutrition is a very important concept in TCM and eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is highly recommended. Eating the correct foods can help combat the drastic change in weather we experience in the Midwest. Eating foods that are moistening and cooling in nature will not only help keep you hydrated, but will also counter the summer heat. This will allow your body to decrease its natural stress responses providing you with more calmness and better sleep. Cooling foods that are great for the summer time include cucumbers, watermelon, green leafy vegetables, green tea, pears, pineapple, tofu, mung bean, watercress, broccoli, lettuce, aloe, and asparagus.

Since summer is a time for growth both in nature and in our lives we should be focusing on balancing all the outdoor action with some calming yin exercises. Try replacing those hot yoga classes with restorative or yin yoga instead. Taking a walk on the beach instead of running or biking outside is another great option. Tai Chi and Qi Gong involve gentle flowing movements focused on body posture, breathing, and meditation. In China, many individuals start or end their days by incorporating the highly beneficial movements of these two systems. Swimming is easy on the joints and will keep you cool. Meditation will slow your mind down and allow you to focus on your breath. Yoga will keep you flexible, grounded, and your spirit calm. These yin style exercise options will help you maintain good sleep and aid in your personal growth this summer season.

Other alternative summer lifestyle changes you can make include going to bed by 10pm and sleeping on an empty stomach. This will help your body to start healing and regenerating as well as giving your liver a chance to detox all the emotional and environmental garbage you have taken on throughout the day. If possible, try to take daily afternoon naps to replenish your mind and body; it will make you more productive and efficient. It is also important to be in nature everyday. You may choose to participate in the numerous outdoor or beach yoga classes Milwaukee has to offer; or you may choose to go on a walk on the Seven Bridges forest trail in South Milwaukee where you can practice the art of forest bathing. Most importantly, be mindful of your thoughts and self-talk. Try to be alone and in stillness every single day whether it is through meditation, journaling, or walking. Whatever you choose to do, choose something that you love and can make a habit of it.

Below are a few tips to staying cool this summer:

  • Add cucumber or mint to your water

  • Eat more fruits and veggies, take advantage of farmers markets and eat seasonal

  • Avoid hot, greasy, or spicy food

  • Avoid or decrease alcohol intake

  • Add more seafood and fish to your diet

  • Decrease intake of red meat

  • Engage in light or moderate exercise

  • Be still, practice gratitude, and stay present in the moment

Counter this yang season by nourishing the yin and embracing stillness. Now get out there and enjoy, after all, joy is the emotion of the season!

© 2018 Amanda Gawrysz

Natural Allergy Relief

By: Amanda Gawrysz, L.Ac, MSOM, Diplo OM

Are you turning to Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Claritin for relief? You may have seen your doctor who routinely prescribes pharmaceuticals from acetaminophens to antihistamines which may further aggravate the symptoms they treat. Allergies are due to the hypersensitivity of the immune system and symptoms can vary from person to person. Thankfully there are numerous natural remedies that can give us relief from these pesky seasonal symptoms.

Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Eating foods that have anti inflammatory properties is a good way to start relieving allergy symptoms. Garlic, lemons, bone broth, probiotic rich foods, and leafy green vegetables are foods that we should be incorporating into our daily diet.

Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic and boosts the immune system. Eating or juicing two cloves of raw garlic daily has more healing benefits than just eliminating allergy symptoms. Some prefer to take garlic supplements, but do not be fooled because they do not work as well as the real bulb.

Lemons are full of vitamin C and antioxidants giving them immune boosting properties as well. Drinking warm lemon water daily on an empty stomach before meals stimulates the liver, rids the body of toxins, and creates a more balanced alkaline internal environment.

Bone broth is rich in minerals and amino acids. Organic homemade chicken or beef bone broth is a great way to not only strengthen your immune system, but improve your gut health preventing the leaking of toxins through the intestinal walls into the rest of your blood stream.

Probiotic foods support immune health and can help repair damaged intestinal lining. My personal favorite probiotic rich food is kombucha, but sauerkraut, kefir, or raw cheese are other options to choose from. Always choose brands that do not add sugar or use white distilled vinegar in their products or make your own.

Raw local honey is another excellent choice. Raw honey contains antioxidants known as phenolic compounds that protect your body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are everywhere causing oxidative stress in the body contributing to the aging process. Raw honey also has antibacterial and antifungal properties and acts as an antiseptic with its naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide! Taking a tablespoon of local, raw honey every day will help your body build a tolerance to the local pollen that is running amuck on your sinuses. You can also add it to your tea, oatmeal, or smoothies. Never feed raw honey to babies less than a year old.

Besides making dietary changes there are even more natural remedies available to help like herbs, essential oils, and the neti pot.

Allerplex is a fantastic whole food supplement by Standard Process that helps support the healthy function of the lungs and sinuses. It contains vitamins A and C to help the body’s ability to handle seasonal and environmental challenges. It has other perks of supporting digestion and healthy liver and adrenal gland function as well as balancing the fluids within us. Visit us at the clinic and see if Allerplex would be a good fit for you.

Studies of eucalyptus essential oil have shown that it is amongst the most potent oils in killing house mites. There are numerous methods to get the benefits of this amazing oil like diffusing it throughout your home, adding 25 drops to each wash load of laundry, or my personal favorite steam inhalation. Steam inhalation is a simple way to move out all that mucus congesting your sinuses. Start by adding 1-2 cups of boiling water to a small bowl, then add anywhere from 5 to 10 drops of eucalyptus oil depending on your tolerance level, grab a towel and place it over your head and around the bowel and take slow deep breaths.

Frankincense oil has been found to not only have cancer-killing properties, but it also has seriously powerful effects when it comes to supporting the immune system. To implement it into your natural health regimen, simply rub frankincense behind your ears and on your chest several times per day or diffuse frankincense essential oil in your home and office for about three hours daily (1).

Herbs are an extremely effective and natural way to treat seasonal allergies. According to numerous sources the number one herb is the nettle (2). When taken internally, the nettle leaf works to reduce inflammation and congestion. It can be consumed as a tea or tincture and is considered safe to use daily throughout the duration of your symptoms (2). A simple tea made from nettle leaves is very effective; however, you can create your own herbal tea blend with herbs that work together to act as natural antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and nourishing respiratory system builders. Here is a simple recipe (2):

  • 4 parts nettle leaf

  • 2 parts peppermint leaf

  • 2 part alfalfa leaf

  • 1 part astragalus root

  • 1 part elder flowers

  • 1 part licorice root

  • 1 part yarrow

To use: Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and store. Infuse 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea in 8 ounces of water for 10 minutes and drink up to 3 cups daily.

The Neti pot is another great sinus and allergy relief option. It is a type of nasal saline irrigation therapy that originated in Ayurvedic medical traditions hundreds of years ago. Neti pots can be purchased at your local health food store, nearest pharmacy, or online. David Rabago, MD, has conducted several studies on the subject and has proven clinically that using a neti pot is beneficial for preventing and treating several upper respiratory conditions, including chronic and acute sinusitis, the common cold and seasonal allergies (3). When using a Neti pot, make sure that the water is distilled and as sterile as possible. Tap water should not be used since it is full of chlorine and fluoride and can actually aggravate your sinuses even more.

Drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and some fresh lemon juice is one of the best ways to wake up every morning. At the first sign of an allergy attack, put one teaspoon of ACV in your neti pot solution for a natural “sinus flush” (1).

So many natural, easy, and inexpensive options to choose from, right? Find what works best for you and stick with it. Spread your new knowledge to your family and friends and help those around you enjoy the beauty of spring.


© 2018 Amanda Gawrysz



  1. Dr. Axe Food is Medicine.

  2. Frugally Sustainable: Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies. (2017).

  3. Rabago. D, Guerard E, Bukstein, D. 2008 April. 107(2):69-75. Nasal irrigation for chronic sinus symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis, asthma, and nasal polyposis: a hypothesis generating study.

Are You Eating Dessert for Breakfast?

By: Amanda Gawrysz, L.Ac, MSOM, Dipl. OM

Do you eat breakfast? Are you one of those people that like to roll out of bed and run out the door with a sugary snack? Or are you the one to wait for sugary snacks like donuts or cupcakes to be brought into work by your coworkers?

Many of us have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many of us may not fully understand the true importance of making that first meal nutrition packed. A lack of time and a lack of hunger in the AM hours seem to be the two main excuses for skipping this important meal.

Processed and added sugars are the biggest culprits in the standard American breakfast; pancakes with syrup, waffles with fruit jams, muffins, donuts, French toast, cereals with artificial colors and flavors, and even granola bars are what Americans consider to be breakfast foods. By eating those types of meals and then adding multiple cups of coffee we are seeking a short-term energy boost that is artificial in nature just like the processed sugars being consumed. Then lunch time approaches and you are probably experiencing extreme hunger, a sugar crash, or are ready for a nap. Not only do you experience energy fluctuations throughout the day with this method of eating, but research shows that sugar and sweetness can induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive recreational drugs.

Let's discuss how much sugar is actually in typical foods that are being consumed for breakfast. A Yoplait original strawberry yogurt contains 18 grams of sugar which is the equivalent of eating a vanilla ice cream cone with sprinkles. A Dunkin’ Donuts blueberry muffin has 43 grams of sugar which is the same as one 2.17 ounce bag of skittles. Are you feeling disgusted by this yet? The USDA reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year! We have become a sugar driven society. The food industry is fully aware of this and continue to pack more and more sugar into their products so that consumers become addicted and in the end buy the product again.

Not all sugars are the same. There are naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruits and grains that also contain vitamins and other nutrients including fiber that we all need for optimal gut health. Although fruits should be consumed in moderation, it is the added sugars and sneaky ingredients the food industry uses (like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame) that we need to look out for.

Sugar is a major life force and our bodies need it as fuel to feed the ongoing fire of life’s process. The sugars in whole foods are balanced with the proper minerals. When natural sugar is refined and concentrated, the life force is dispersed and the natural balance is upset. Refined sugar passes quickly into the bloodstream in large amounts giving the stomach and pancreas a shock. An acid condition forms which consumes the body’s minerals quickly. Thus calcium is lost from the system causing bone problems. The digestive system is weakened and food cannot be digested or assimilated properly. This leads to a blood-sugar imbalance and to further craving sugar.

Satisfying the sweet tooth can be a challenge. Begin by reducing the intake of sugar slowly and use some discipline and self-reflection to take you smoothly through the withdrawal symptoms of tiredness, anxiety, and depression. Suddenly dropping sugar usually results in a desire to binge. People who stop eating sugar nearly always experience higher spirits, emotional stability, improved memory and speech, restful sleep and dreams, fewer colds and dental problems, more endurance and concentration, and better health in general. Raw carrots are especially helpful for sugar cravings or eating something sour, pungent or spicy like warm lemon water can also diminish those cravings.

What if you changed your morning habits by either giving yourself an extra 15 minutes in the kitchen or by meal prepping the night before? Liquids like smoothies, green juices, and soups or bone broths are the easiest and quickest way to get a nutritional breakfast in. If eating three meals per day, optimal meal times are breakfast 7-9am, lunch 11-1pm, and dinner 4-7pm. Also, make sure to keep cold beverages to a minimum. The ideal time to drink cold liquids is in the afternoon when our body’s energy is at its peak. Drinking room temperature or warm drinks 30 minutes before a meal aids in the digestion process instead of slowing it down like cold liquids do or drinking during meals.

Refined sugar delivers high energy and enables one to keep working, but unfortunately it is addicting and contributes greatly to disease and unhappiness. While in very small amounts it can be used as medicine, in large amounts sugar leads to obesity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, anemia, immune deficiency, tooth decay, and bone loss. Choose whole fruits and vegetables, decrease the intake of processed sugars slowly to avoid intense withdrawals symptoms, and make sure to eat a nutrition packed breakfast every day to give you the long-term energy you need.

© 2018 Amanda Gawrysz