Tag: cortisol

The Health Benefits of Laughter Therapy

It is more than six years now since the first “Laughter Club” was set up. There is a growing demand for such clubs in India and abroad. Almost everyday more and more people are joining Laughter Clubs and are reaping its benefits. One of the benefits is that laughter puts the members in a positive frame of mind and gradually makes them positive thinkers. People suffering from a variety of stress-related diseases have benefited in some way or another. But we don’t claim that long-standing ailments have been cured by laughter therapy. Laughter is more of a supplementary and preventive therapy.

Anti Stress: Laughter is one of the finest, most economical and easy ways to reduce stress. Laughter is one of the best muscle relaxants. Laughter expands blood vessels and sends more blood to the extremities and other muscles all over the body. A good bout of laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. It is used as a form of dynamic meditation or relaxation. For meditation one has to put in a concerted effort to completely detach oneself, on mental and emotional levels, from one’s own feelings and thought processes, as well as from the physical world to prevent distractions. While laughing we do not have any conscious thought process and all our senses naturally and effortlessly combine in a moment of harmony to give joy, peace and relaxation. In other types of meditation you need to concentrate a lot to take your mind away from distracting thoughts, which is easier said than done. Therefore, laughter is, if I may say so, the easiest form of meditation and one which brings you instant relaxation.

Strengthens the Immune System: The immune system plays an important role in maintaining good health by keeping away infections, allergies and cancers. It has been proven by psychoneuroimmunologists that negative emotions like anxiety, depression or anger weaken the immune system of the body, thereby reducing its fighting capacity against infections. According to Dr. Lee S. Berk from Loma Linda University, California, laughter helps to increase the count of natural killer cells (NK cells – a type of white cell) and also raises the antibody levels. Researchers have found that after laughter therapy there is an increase in antibodies (Immunoglobulin A) in the mucous of the nose and respiratory passages, which is believed to have a protective capacity against some viruses, bacteria and other micro organisms. Many members of Laughter Clubs have noticed that their frequency of common colds, sore throats and chest infections has decreased. The effect of laughter on the immune system is considered to be very significant with regard to deadly disease like AIDS and cancer by improving quality of life.

Aerobic Exercise: The one benefit almost everybody experiences is a sense of well-being. After 15 minutes of laughter in the morning, they feel fresh throughout the day. There is no medicine like laughter which gives you such an instant result. The reason for the sense of well-being is that you inhale more oxygen while laughing. Laughter can be compared to any aerobic exercises except you don’t have to wear fancy shoes or clothes. You don’t need to sweat hard on the jogging tracks. According to Dr. William Fry from Stanford University, one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine. Laughter stimulates heart and blood circulation like aerobic exercise. Laughter exercise is suited for sedentary people and those who are confined to a bed or wheelchair.

Depression, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders: The stress and strain of modern life are taking a heavy toll of the human mind and body. Mind-related diseases like anxiety, depression, nervous breakdowns and sleeplessness are on the rise. Laughter has benefited many people who were on heavy anti-depressant pills and tranquilizers. Now they are getting better sleep and their depression has reduced. People with suicidal tendencies have started living with more hope.

High Blood Pressure and Heart disease: There are a number of causes for high blood pressure and heart disease like heredity, obesity, smoking and excessive intake of saturated fats. But stress is one of the major factors. Laughter definitely helps to control blood pressure by reducing the release of stress-related hormones and bringing relaxation.

© Used with Permission

Dr. Mandan Kataria
Mumbai, INDIA. 2003.
Phone : +91-22-26316426
E-Mail : laugh@laughteryoga.org


9 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure Now!

You don’t always have to wait to quit your job or to lose weight before lowering your blood pressure. Use these natural techniques to re-gain your health and to reduce your stress.

    1. Reduce Intake of Processed Table Salt and Increase Potassium Intake.
      Reduce or eliminate colas from your diet. Use low or no sodium soy sauce or other seasonings products. Avoid pre-packaged, pre-made foods such as boxed frozen and canned foods which are high in processed sodium (20% or more of you daily value). When choosing salt, try unrefined sea salt which retain important minerals. Increase potassium rich foods such as bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, apricots, raisins, beans, figs, winter squash and tomato sauce. (Most tomato product brands are packed in B.P.A. lined cans so be sure to avoid those brands by choosing jarred sauces, making your own from farm fresh tomato. As of the writing of this article canned Glenn Muir do not use B.P.A. can liners. You can also try boxes of Pomi brand tomato product). Food is the best medicine, but you can also consider taking a potassium supplement daily.
    2. Exercise Daily. Studies show that cardio vascular exercise reduces blood pressure and relieves stress. Sometimes due to health reasons or time constraints we cannot work out often or engage in a vigorous cardiovascular program. That is okay. Start by walking for 5-15 minutes per day. Slowly increase your walking time and soon you may be able to go to the gym again. Also try hatha yoga, qi-gong or tai-chi.
    3. Use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Scientific research studies show that acupuncture reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones, such as cortisol and by releasing good hormones called endorphins. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture to balance the root cause of energy disharmony which may contribute to high blood pressure.
    4. Take Breaks At Work. To reduce your stress, walk out of the office for a few minutes, breathe deeply and let go.

  1. Reduce Exposure to News Media. Cut down on T.V. news shows, newspaper and magazine reading and internet news media. News sources such as T.V. news, news magazine shows, Court TV, Cops, Unsolved Mysteries and other crime shows as well as glossy news magazines thrive on inducing fear and anxiety which causes blood pressure to rise as stress levels rise.
  2. Give Yourself Alone Time.Even five minutes a day of quiet time can help. Try any of the following; meditate, walk, sit in a garden, breathe, go for a drive or bike ride.
  3. Engage in Low Stress Activities You Enjoy. Knitting, golfing, gardening, playing with pets, fishing, dance, sing, play an instrument, walk in the park or meet a friend for tea.
  4. Breathe. Become aware of your breath. Do you stop breathing when you are stressed or do you sigh a lot? Do you take short breaths into the top of your chest? Or do breathe deeply filling down to the bottom of your belly? Take time to just breathe and relax. You don’t always have try some special breathing exercise because sometimes just sitting and feeling the sensation breath moving through your body can be enough. Inhale through the nose, feel the air move through, is it cool or warm? Can you feel it move through the throat? Notice your chest expand, your lungs fill and ribs expand. As you exhale notice your belly soften, ribs soften, chest relax and warm air move out of your mouth.
  5. Develop Mindful Awareness. Become mindful of your reactions to stressful situations. What raises the hair on the back of your neck? What causes you tense up your shoulders or jaw? What situations or people cause your blood to boil? As you become aware of your stress reactions to people, places and things, take a breath and consider this advice Tibetan monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes in his book Anger. Wisdom for Cooling the Flames:‘The first function of mindfulness is to recognize, not fight. “Breathing in, I know anger has manifested in me”. And breathing out, “I will take good care of you.” Once we have recognized our anger we embrace it. This is the second function of mindfulness, and it is a very pleasant practice. Instead of fighting we are taking good care of our emotion. If you know how to embrace your anger, something will change.’

Integrating just a few of these many tips into your daily life can help blood pressure control and reduce stress.

Sounds True, Inc.


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square eAst, Suite 615 n
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Don’t Skip Sleep! Acupuncture works for insomnia.

Acupuncture for insomnia is very effective. Numerous studies support what Chinese medical practitioners have known for thousands of years.

Read more about scientific studies on acupuncture for insonia herehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922248

Acupuncture can usually relieve insomnia within just 4-6 visits!

Many people do not get adequate sleep, and whether it’s due to insomnia or other factors, attention must be paid to getting enough rest.

Sleep is completely essential to overall health and quality of life, and those deprived of adequate amounts are very likely to experience a range of symptoms, including weight gain, depression or anxiety, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Ready for a great night’s rest?


The following articles support different highlights on the importance of adequate sleep. Recent studies suggest that doctors should include inquiries about patients’ quality and quantity of sleep in a general check-up as a new vital sign.

Chinese Medicine agrees that sleep is vitally important, and has recognized through the ages that the body’s systems are interconnected. Difficulty sleeping or lack of substantial sleep is almost always linked to other symptoms that indicate the body is out of balance. Faster intervention is always best, since symptoms of illness can become more numerous and severe if the problem is ignored.

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist was so warm and friendly from our initial meeting. She took the time to explain what acupuncture was, asked very detailed questions in order to treat me appropriately. She creates a soothing and comfortable environment when working with you. She receives nothing but high recommendations from me!” – Simone

One study concluded the following: “Insomnia and trouble sleeping are most often associated with high blood pressure, heart failure, anxiety and depression,according to a national survey of 31,044 adults. It had been thought that insomnia was quite prevalent on its own, but only 4 percent of the people [with] insomnia had it without any of those conditions”.

Lack of sleep, in multiple studies, has been linked to weight gain. There are several explanations for weight gain within Chinese Medicine for this phenomenon such as qi deficiency or qi stagnation.

Acupuncture for weight loss and acupuncture for insomnia can very successful. Western research suggests that sleep deprivation alters hormones involved with appetite and metabolism. More research shows that acupuncture can balance those very hormones.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported  that 1.6 million Americans get treated for insomnia using Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the majority find the treatments effective.

Many people who experience symptoms of insomnia are eager a find natural solution because prescription drugs may offer temporary solutions, but can be addictive and often cause unwanted side effects. The bigger problem with treatment via chemical pharmaceuticals is that they do not treat the underlying cause of the insomnia and associated symptoms.


Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese herbs is natural, safe and effective because it addresses both the underlying imbalance causing insomnia as well as other symptoms of disharmony in the body.


Rest Easy! Try Acupuncture, It Works!

Call Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs in NYC for an appointment with Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.: 646-504-2251

Not in NYC? Schedule a Skype Wellness Consultation: 646-504-2251

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

New Year’s Diet Resolutions: How to Make Them and How to Keep Them

Throughout the holidays many people have over consumed rich, fatty, sugary foods more than they should have. To bring in the New Year, many people have resolved to go on another diet. New Year’s diet resolutions are easy to make, but not many people keep them. Are you one of those people?

Those extra holiday pounds added to the rest of the weight you want to lose makes dieting seem like an overwhelming task. Which diet will you chose: Atkins, Fit for Life, The Zone, Weight Watchers, Raw Foods, Juicing, Cabbage Soup?

It’s usually with an anguished moan that we declare we are going on a diet. But, weight loss doesn’t have to be a chore. We can make it much easier to lose weight and keep it off when we shift our perception about dieting. The most important shift is the realization that dieting doesn’t have to be about deprivation. You don’t have to live on bland salads, eating only soups or prepackaged diet plan meals, or go on controversial induction or crash diets to lose weight. Chinese Medicine (CM) advises quite the opposite. We advise balance, not deprivation, as the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

In fact, even Western nutritionists agree with the CM viewpoint. Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Eat More, Weigh Less comments on the unhealthiness of high protein diets, “You can lose weight from fen-phen, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.”

Katherine Tallmadge, nutritionist and author of Diet Simple, says, “I’ve found the biggest cause of overeating is under-eating. Most overeating is due to poor planning. It is amazing what a well stocked refrigerator full of delicious prepared foods does for preventing that stop to the fast food joint. Most of your cravings and uncontrolled overeating will be conquered when you feed your body what it needs regularly during the day and have the food at your fingertips when you need it. Studies show that you are most likely to eat whatever is in your environment. If you surround yourself with delicious, healthy, wholesome foods, that’s what you’ll end up eating.”

I can vouch for the wisdom of Katherine Tallmadge because I prepare several meals to have at my fingertips. Every Sunday, I teach a yoga class in the morning, then I go food shopping. I stop at the health food store, the grocery store and maybe even the local Italian market. Then I go home, put on really loud music that makes me move, sing and dance around the kitchen while I get cookin’. I cook several meals in large batches that last me the week offering myself a variety of foods and flavors. Then I freeze some servings and store servings in the refrigerator to eat over the next few days and take to my office. I plan the meals and shopping list ahead of time. Experimentation with new recipes from some of my favorite magazines like Food and Wine and Gourmet keep my discriminating palate satisfied. Believe it or not those magazines have many healthful recipes. I also find recipes in Vegetarian Times , Cook’s Illustrated,  and Eating Well, which also rates the degree of difficulty of the recipes as Easy, Moderate or Labor Intensive and gives you the caloric value, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and sodium per serving.

What To Eat

Chinese medicine teaches us to eat whole cooked foods and avoid raw foods diets and juicing for every meal. Avoid overeating dairy products, many of which we westerners consider healthy diet foods like cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

The reason Chinese medicine does not advise eating raw foods and juices and dairy products is because they are classified as cold and damp. It is said in Chinese Medicine that “The Spleen hates cold, the Spleen hates dampness.” Cold and damp foods harm the Spleen qi. The Spleen is viewed as the vital organ for the digestion and assimilation of food. It’s job is to transform and transport food. It transforms the food into qi and transports the qi to other organs. When the other organs receive qi, they can properly perform their functions in preserving physiological balance and harmony. When organ systems do not receive enough qi it causes disharmony which can lead to disease. We also want to avoid fatty, greasy fried foods, and over consumption of alcohol, (anyone out there have a beer belly?), white flour products and sugar, all of which are classified as cold or damp foods.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Many of my patients skip breakfast and wait until late in the day to eat lunch or even miss it, blaming a busy day at work. Then when they finally eat they gorge on whatever is fastest. But what happens physiologically when we regularly deprive our bodies of food then finally binge? Our body goes into a state of emergency and thinks that it has to store the calories we ate for future use. So it stores these calories as fat, an efficient fuel because it is hard to burn. And what if we eat a quick sugary pick me up like a candy bar or Powerbar instead of a meal?

Sugar Facts

The American Heart Association’s Committee on Nutrition recently informed healthcare professionals that sugar consumption promotes obesity and raises triglycerides (blood fats). Sugar is a fuel that delivers calories with great efficiency, and any extra calories are converted into body fat for storage. Extra fat on the body usually produces extra fat in the blood along with added body weight (Eating Well, Fall 2002, p20). But if we eat regularly and avoid massive amounts of sugar consumption our bodies won’t need to store as much. The body will use or burn the most of the calories instead of storing them.

Sugar is hard to give up because we love and crave sweets. It is in so many products we want to eat, even in some brands of bread!

Our sugar cravings date back 2 million years when we would seek out sweet foods dense with energy, like ripe mangos hanging from the tree, berries clustered on the vine and honey seeping from the comb. Thousands of years later, in a land of overabundant processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, that primitive impulse works against easy weight control and healthy energy balance. (Eating Well Fall 2002, p19). Our sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons why I advise my patients that they must combine an exercise program with the dietary change. There is just no getting away with evading exercise to lose and maintain weight loss.

Sugar addiction is a real and important issue. If you eat lots of sugar it is best to reduce your intake rather than go cold turkey. Sugar stimulates the brain to produce the opioid chemicals which in turn stimulates elevated dopamine levels. Elevated dopamine levels cause us to seek out more sweets, like a drug. This is same chemical process that a morphine or heroin addict’s brain experiences. Fortunately for sugar addicts it is not as hard to quit. Although I have a theory that it is harder for people who are in recovery from drugs or alcohol to quit sugar, it can still be done. Try to reduce your intake by half for a few weeks then by half again for a week then in half again (or lower).

When I decide to eat sweets I go all out to satisfy my craving by going to a local bakery, gourmet or specialty chocolate shop. This way instead of buying a whole pie or cake I can buy one slice, or just 2-3 chocolate raspberry truffles instead of a whole box of cheap chocolate from the drug store. The result is that I lower the potential sugar and caloric intake and the superior quality chocolate or baked delicacy substantially satisfies my craving more than low quality grocery store or quickie-mart junk food. So basically I don’t have to eat sweets as much or as often.

Be Kind

As you embark on a new way of eating, be kind to yourself if you slip into an old habit. Just acknowledge the awareness that you slipped and explore why. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead ask yourself questions like: Was it because I had no food in the house that I went to a fast food joint? How can I prepare my refrigerator to avoid fast food? Was I feeling emotionally vulnerable when I ate that entire box of cookies? What else can I do to feel better in the future?

Finally, I’d like to direct you my article, I’m in a Committed Relationship with Food, which offers many other important recommendations for dietary change.

Good luck, be well, and remember that moderation and balance are the keys to creating a sustainable, successful and healthful diet.


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com

Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615 N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Call 646-504-2251 To Schedule

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