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November Issue of Natural Alternatives
October 30, 2014

Natural Alternatives for Your Total Health

November 2014

Hello, and welcome to this edition edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!

I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.

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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates






by June Fakkert, Epoch Times

NEW YORK—When feelings of sadness and anxiety over a difficult family situation sent Dr. Suzanne Soehner to the office of a Tibetan medicine practitioner, she was hoping for a remedy that would miraculously make her feel better.

She got her miracle in the form of two potent pieces of advice:

“Once you realize that all phenomena are but a dream, then that is the true liberation from suffering.”
“The Buddha said that the source of all happiness is thinking about others. The source of all suffering is thinking about oneself.”

Like all of Tibetan culture, the medicine of Tibet is deeply imbued with the tenets of Buddhism—with beliefs in reincarnation and compassion forming part of the bedrock of mind- body healing.

The central figure of Tibetan medicine is the Medicine Buddha.

“[The] Medicine Buddha is the role model for Tibetan doctors in the way we’re supposed to think about our patients and practice,” said Elliot Tokar, an American-born physician specializing in Tibetan medicine. Tokar started practicing Tibetan Buddhism to support his healing work.

Compassion is integral to health and happiness in this system of belief.

“Being compassionate can bring about a prime state of health because the health of the mind is key to the health of the body,” explained Dawa Ridak, a Brooklyn-based Tibetan medicine practitioner, speaking through a translator. “Compassion helps the body maintain balance. … When the mind has happiness, the body automatically becomes healthier.”

Compassion can be easily crowded out by a mind full of attachments. In Tibetan medicine, attachments are seen as throwing one’s health out of balance.

“The cause of disease is attachment,” said Joseph Choeying Phunstoek, a Tibetan physician who received his training at the main centre of Tibetan medicine in northern India and now practices in New York. “If you become attached, … that’s going to be poisoning, imbalance,” he added.

The three primary attachments—materialism, aggression, and ignorance—can lead to different types of disease.

For example, a person with excess materialism may be more prone to troubles related to circulation, the nervous system, and the mind. A person with anger may have illnesses related to the blood and the liver. Ignorance can manifest as conditions that deplete the phlegm-related systems of the body such as digestion.

Although Tibetan medicine believes that illness can stem from spiritual causes, it also recognizes that diet and environmental factors have a role to play. For thousands of years, Tibetan doctors have used trial and error to gain insight into health and healing, making Tibetan medicine one of the most comprehensive medical systems practiced in the world today.


Tibetan medicine treatments include diet and lifestyle modification, herbal supplementation, medical massage, acupressure, and acupuncture.

Before any treatment however, practitioners do a thorough assessment of a patient’s health profile. This assessment is done using observation-based diagnostic techniques that include examining the condition of the tongue, eyes, urine, and stool.

Tibetan practitioners also read the pulse and ask a plethora of questions about medical history, personal habits, and diet, so they can understand as many of the health-influencing factors as possible.

The pulse-reading technique in Tibetan medicine is much more complex than just measuring the heart rate. To take a patient’s pulse, a doctor places three fingers on the thumb side of the patient’s forearm. After years of practice, they are able to discern slight variations in strength and rhythm and how this corresponds to the health of different organs in the body.

This technique is surprisingly accurate. An Austrian journalist who came to the United States to explore alternative healing modalities told the Epoch Times that he did not believe the Tibetan doctor who took his pulse and told him he had a kidney problem. A couple of months later, some painful kidney stones convinced this journalist that the doctor had been right.

Diet and lifestyle changes are usually the first tier of treatment in Tibetan medicine. The next tier includes Tibetan herbal supplements, which have anywhere from three to over 150 different plant and mineral ingredients. These supplements have very precise formulas and are produced through very elaborate processes.

What makes these supplements very different from their Western counterparts is that the climate in which the plants grow, the type and quality of the soil, the amount of rain and sun, and the time of year and day of the harvest are considered important factors that affect the herbs’ potency.

In Tibetan culture and medicine, human prayer is believed to have energy. The blessings recited as part of the pill-making process are seen to give the supplements extra oomph.


Born and raised in the United States, Tokar is one of a few Tibetan doctors from the West. He became interested in Tibetan medicine after seeing a friend somewhat miraculously regain her health through this modality.

This friend had suffered for years from tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and rheumatoid fever. Then she was diagnosed with a painful bone infection, osteomyelitis.

Conventional doctors said she would need at least nine months of medication and surgeries to recover from the infection. She chose to forgo conventional treatments and try the Tibetan way.

Within six months, she was “able to recover her health for the most part,” Tokar said.

He is careful to distinguish between the Buddhist underpinnings of Tibetan medicine and the practice of Buddhism. He said the Dalai Lama explained the connection using the metaphor of the hand and the fingers, which are very connected but not the same thing.

He attributes part of the success of Tibetan treatments to the fact that they can help people better understand their own health, both the physical and psychological components.

Tokar saw this in action with a patient of one of his teachers, a woman who had puzzling psychiatric symptoms. She came to seek help, with psychotherapist in tow, because she had heard that Tibetan medicine had a spiritual perspective.

“[My teacher] did a diagnosis and understood right away … that this is not any kind of spiritually based illness,” Tokar recalled. After a long conversation, it came to light that this woman had been subjected to severe trauma early in life.

“[She] had been placed on various psychiatric medications to help her cope with the trauma, and she had become a pharmaceutical drug addict. … People wanted to idealize it as something very esoteric, but actually it was something very straightforward and physical,” he said.

Tokar’s teacher explained what steps the woman could take to reverse her condition and no longer be a psychiatric patient. At first, this idea confused and enraged the patient, who had become accustomed to the idea that she was psychotic. After she calmed down, however, she agreed to try his suggestions with the help of her therapist.

The advice a Tibetan physician gave Soehner, herself a licensed doctor of Oriental Medicine with a practice in New York City, likewise caught her by surprise. Although it “felt like having cold water thrown in my face,” it was “the best medicine he could have possibly given,” she said.

His words, “Happiness is thinking about others,” have rung true time and again, Soehner noted, especially when she treats patients in her Chinese medicine practice.

“When I am seeing a patient, I am completely absorbed with what I’m going to do to help this patient. It’s like I disappear for that period of time … because my attention is completely focused on helping my patients,” she explained.

She has found that volunteer work is a very practical remedy that helps patients find more space and perspective on their problems.

“There is nothing like volunteering with those less fortunate than oneself to completely alter one’s perception of one’s own problems and to foster an attitude of gratitude, which is a healing state of mind,” Soehner said. “Sometimes that alone is enough to shift a person into a more expansive healing experience.”

by Derek Markham

Feeling low energy? Looking for a boost to your immune system? Herbal tea could be exactly what you need to help your body heal itself.

Those that know me well can testify to my love for coffee. I make a mean pot of french press java in the morning, and maybe have a double Americano from my local barista around noon, but after the middle of the day, I’m over it.

I switch over to herbal tea in the afternoon and drink at least a potful every evening. It puts warmth in my belly during autumn and in the wintertime, and adds an extra element to my health to help counteract the caffeine from my earlier indulgences. And I simply make my own from bulk herbs that I buy from my local natural foods co-op.

Here’s a Few of My Favorite Ingredients for Homemade Herbal Tea:

Licorice root – I never liked licorice candy, possibly because I don’t care for the strong anise flavor, but I sure do like licorice root in my tea. Sweetener is never necessary when using it, and it’s got some great medicinal properties. Licorice is an expectorant, which means that it helps to dissolve mucus in the lungs, and it’s an adaptogen, or tonic herb, helping the body in times of stress and anxiety. It can be useful for upset stomachs and ulcers, and is also a mild laxative. I generally use about a tablespoon of cut and sifted root per pot of tea.
Alfalfa leaf – Yes, I’m aware that alfalfa is one component of hay, and that horses and cows love it… But alfalfa has also been used for millennia as medicine. It’s high in protein, calcium and other minerals, as well as good amounts of vitamins A, B , C, D, E, and K. Alfalfa has been used to help digestion, anemia, diabetes, and to increase breast milk production (it sure hasn’t helped me with that…) I use about a tablespoon and a half in a pot of tea.
Red Clover blossoms-Clover is great for coughs and bronchitis, and has been used to treat eczema, skin conditions, sore throats, and to reduce inflammation. It’s recommended as a blood-builder and purifier as well. I throw a handful into the pot and call it good. Pregnant women are advised against drinking clover tea.
Peppermint- I love mint. It goes with pretty much anything, and can soothe your stomach or achy head. A tablespoon of mint per teapot is good, but if you like it, add another. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
Tulsi-Also known as Holy Basil, tulsi is revered in India and recommended for everything from the common cold to diabetes. It’s also classified as an adaptogen, helping your body to deal with stress and to balance your system. Use 2 teaspoons per pot.

These herbs are readily available in most health food stores, and all of them can be grown in your kitchen garden for pennies. With a little creativity and some research into healing herbs, you can find a blend that tastes great and works for you.
Your body will thank you.



If you are an avid viewer of cooking shows, you know that olive oil is a staple in most top chefs’ creations. Cooking connoisseurs enjoy using this oil because of the unique flavor it brings to food. Olive oil is made from olives, most of which originate from the Mediterranean region. People in this region are revered for their longevity and their luscious hair and skin. This may be because olive oil is a staple in their d.iets. As more people are starting to realize the overall health benefits of olive oil, its use is growing in popularity.

Cholesterol and Heart Health

Despite the drama surrounding the use of fats and oils, these things are an essential part of a balanced eating plan. The key is to choose your fats wisely. Olive oil is one of the healthiest types of fat around. The monounsaturated fat in olive oil has been shown to control LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. This can potentially lower your risk of heart disease.

When you digest your food, free radicals that are naturally produced by the body can damage the cells. Free radicals from environmental factors such as dust, smog, cigarette smoke and pesticides don’t help the situation. The antioxidants contained in olive oil can help fight off and repair some of the damage that free radicals can cause.

To get the best heart-healthy results from olive oil, the U.S Food and Drug Administration recommends eating two tablespoons daily. You can easily get this amount in your diet by following the examples of top chefs and using it in your favorite foods.

Skin and Hair

The antioxidants contained in olive oil can benefit more than your heart. Because this substance prevents cell destruction, it fights the signs of aging and gives you a more youthful appearance. When applied topically, olive oil moisturizes and softens dry skin. Since the product is natural, adverse reactions are not common.

The problem with a lot of commercial skincare products is that the moisturizing ingredients don’t penetrate the skin. Extra virgin olive oil is composed of more than 80 percent oleic acid. This substance easily penetrates the skin, and allows the oil to heal damage, reduce wrinkles and improve texture.

If you struggle with dry, brittle hair, keeping a bottle of olive oil handy can help. A weekly deep conditioner of olive oil can be used in the place of products that contain silicone ingredients to make the hair more manageable. Shampoos that contain sulfates will strip the moisture out of your hair and make it look drab and lifeless. Using olive oil in the place of your regular commercial conditioners can moisturize the hair and give it a healthy sheen.

Olive does more than make scrumptious dishes. It is well documented that, when combined with a nutritious diet, this oil’s antioxidant properties can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels and heart health. In addition, when added as part of a regular beauty regimen, it can improve the health of your skin and hair.


oli Thank you for reading.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

P.S. If you have a comment or suggestion, just reply to this e-mail. Your feedback is important to me.



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This newsletter is for educational purposes only. It is your right to educate yourself in health and medical knowledge, to seek helpful information and make use of it for your own benefit, and for that of your family. You are the one responsible for your health. You must educate yourself in order to make decisions in all health matters. My views and advises are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine, but simply a help you to make educated changes in order to help your body heal itself. If you have a medical condition or concern you should consult your physician.

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