Function = Health

Some define health as the absence of disease. At Gulf Coast Wellness, we think that’s setting the bar a bit low. There must be something that happens in between being perfectly healthy and having a disease. Ever wonder what that is? Watch this video to find out!–BUT WAIT—if you haven’t watched my What is Qi video yet, PLEASE watch that first

Myths and Facts About Chinese Medicine I

Myths and Facts About Chinese Medicine II

Myths and Facts About Chinese Medicine III

Chris Kresser—Chinese Medicine Demystified


What to do when you’re sick

One question I constantly get asked is, “What should I do when I get sick?” If you have an Acupuncturist or Chinese Herbalist, they should be your first stop. The sooner you get treatment, the shorter your illness. Herbs are far more effective than medications for eradicating viruses and getting you back on your feet.

But what about the rest of you who don’t have any help? There are some simple, natural things you can do to feel better quickly and shorten the duration of your illness.

Obviously I’m no video expert, or I’d know how to come up with a better thumbnail, but I keep doing these anyway in an attempt to help you learn more about your health! I hope you enjoy it!


Delicious, Dairy-free, Paleo, GAPS-legal Coconut Milkshake!

Ice cream is one of the most difficult foods for our patients to give up. Unfortunately many people have either dairy or sugar sensitivities (or both). This ice-cream replacement is pretty healthy and completely delicious. It has no refined sugar, and sugars are easier to process in their whole, unadulterated form.

However, this recipe is still not great for diabetics or those who are really trying to lose weight, as it is still quite high in natural sugars.

For those of us who have the ability to handle occasional sweets, though, it is absolutely fantastic! You won’t even miss ice cream!

 

You’ll need:

1 young, thai coconut

2-6 dates

2 big handfuls almonds

1 T vanilla extract

3 big pinches unrefined sea salt

Ice

Vitamix or other very high-powered blender

Cleaver or CocoJack or some other way of opening the coconut

 

Yeild: 2 large or 3 medium servings

Directions:

  1. Open the coconut and empty the water into the blender. Then scrape out all the meat and add to the blender. Be careful not to get any hard shell pieces in the blender.
  2. Add 2 handfuls almonds, 3 large pinches sea salt, 1 T vanilla extract, 2-6 dates (depending on desired sweetness).
  3. Put ice into blender on top of other ingredients at roughly a 1:1 ratio (ice should take up the same amount of space as total other ingredients).
  4. Blend on high until smooth—about 45-60 seconds in the Vitamix.
  5. Pour into glasses—makes 2 large servings or 3 medium servings.

Tip: If you have a regular blender and not a crazy-strong Vitamix, you may have to chop the almonds up in the blender first and then add other ingredients.

Full disclosure:

This is a recipe I modified over time that originally came from the Café Gratitude cookbook: I Am Grateful. It’s a great resource for raw, vegan meals and desserts.


Pecan Crusted Paleo Fried Pork Chops

Paleo, GAPS, Gluten free, Traditional Foods, Low Carb, Delicious!

Two unfortunate events combined to cause us to create the most delicious fried pork chops I’ve ever eaten in my life! These are far better than any traditional flour chops. If you just want the recipe and don’t’ want to read my story, scroll down to the bottom.

First, we were driving back to Pensacola from Tampa. If you’ve driven it, you know you drive North on I-75 and then change to I-10 West just above Lake City. Now, I generally do most of the driving, but I was tired and determined to get Niko to sub in more than 1 hour on the trip—so we changed drivers about 20 miles south of Lake City.

Once I got in the passenger seat, I decided to make use of my free time by returning some phone calls from potential patients and getting some snacks together. I busied myself with this for a little while. Then, once we’d had enough snacks and the phone calls were finished, I looked up to see where we were. I started thinking, “Seems like Niko’s been driving for a while and we should be on I-10 by now,” so I was just about to pull up my GPS to see how much farther when I saw: Valdosta Next 5 Exits. Uh-oh. For those who don’t know, that’s in Georgia—and definitely NOT on the way from Tampa to Pensacola, both of which cities are in Florida.

So to console ourselves, we stopped off at Big Rosie’s Pecan and fruit stand—where someone I’ll call Big Rosie informed us that the Pecan Meal/Flour they were selling could be used to fry fish, chicken or pork.

The second thing that happened is that we went to the Palafox Market in downtown Pensacola, as we do every Saturday morning. And as usual, we stop off to see what Roger has at the Green Cedars Farm stand. He has the best pork I’ve ever eaten. We bought our usual bone-in pork butt and decided to splurge on some chops.

Saturdays are often a long day out of the house for us, so we always bring multiple coolers to fill with our groceries. We packed the pork down into the ice and went on about our day. When we arrived home, all the meat had somehow frozen into the center of a giant iceburg—which I had to drop on the cement to break apart. When I got it all apart, I noticed that the pork chops had somehow managed to completely thaw while encased in ice. I’m sure someone who understands physics better than I can explain how you get a warm area in the center of a block of ice.

As a result of the chops thawing out, we decided we would have to cook them the very next day (today).

Since we just learned about frying in pecan flour, I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t find any recipes, so I looked up several and came up with this one. These are honestly the absolute best pork chops I’ve ever eaten in my entire life! Juicy, flavorful with melt-in-your-mouth fat. The sweetness of the pecans plays perfectly off the porky, salty, pepperiness. Amazing! Enjoy.

You will need:

  • Meat thermometer
  • 2.5 lbs pork chops
  • ¾ c pecan meal
  • 1 egg, beaten or ¼ c raw milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 T ghee
  • 2 T butter

 

  1. Pour beaten egg or milk on one plate and pecan meal on the other.
  2. Heat coconut oil, ghee and butter in a cast iron pan over med-high heat till bubbling.
  3. Dredge chops in egg/milk and pecan meal.
  4. Place in hot fat.
  5. Cover top of chop with a crust of salt and pepper—nice and thick!
  6. When the bottom is good and brown, flip chops and turn down heat to medium.
  7. Start checking the temperature of your chops pretty frequently. Once they reach 135o, remove chops and place on cutting board for 10 minutes. The temperature of the chops will continue to rise as they sit. Do not skip this step, as it allows the juices to soak back in! Note: chops may cook at different rates, so be sure to check the temperature of each
  8. Pop on a plate with a delicious side and eat up!

What is an Acupuncture Physician?

In the State of Florida, an Acupuncture Physician is a Physician who is licensed by the Florida Department of Health to practice Acupuncture. In case you’re wondering, all physicians are typically referred to as Doctor, as in, “Hi, I’m Dr. Shark.”

Medical licensing is regulated by the states, so the specific requirements for medical licenses vary from state to state.  Several states, such as Alabama, still do not have a licensure process to practice Acupuncture.

This definition brings up two questions:

  1. What is Acupuncture as defined by Florida law?
  2. What is required to receive this license?

First off, “Acupuncture” as defined by Florida includes a lot more than the practice of Acupuncture itself, which is essentially the insertion of very fine needles at specific locations in order to produce a physiological response which results in pain relief or the activation of healing.  In the state of Florida, Acupuncture means the entire system of Chinese Medicine. This includes diagnosis, nutrition, physical/orthopedic exam, herbal medicine, supplement prescription, rehabilitative exercise, intramuscular injection of non-drug substances (such as vitamins or saline), and the ordering and interpretation of lab tests and images (such as blood work or x-rays).  The primary difference between what a Medical Doctor (MD) and an Acupuncture Physician (AP) can do is that the MD can prescribe pharmaceutical drugs and an AP cannot.

What is responsible for this difference? It’s the focus of the medical training of each respective physician. Both MD’s and AP’s spend 4 years in medical school, with similar prerequisites for science education in undergrad. Both physicians study important subjects such as Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Internal Medicine, Orthopedics, Dermatology, and External Medicine. But there is a major difference in the way these subjects are approached.

The driving force behind the difference in approach is the difference in treatment. Medical Doctors’ primary treatments are pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. Their diagnosis primarily directly restates the symptom (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, migraines) and seeks to find supporting markers on specific tests which indicate the need for medical interventions—because drugs and surgeries are designed to treat these single symptoms individually.  Acupuncture Physicians’ primary treatments are natural interventions that stimulate the healing process in the body either through activating a specific neurological response (Acupuncture) or by providing particular nutrients or substances (Herbal Medicine, Nutrition, Supplementation). As a result, MDs’ diagnostic processes tend to be more specific (focused on one abnormality at a time), and APs’ more holistic (focusing on the entire body or entire functional system).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. In general, MD’s are unparalleled in their treatment of emergency conditions. Because of their specificity, they can quickly treat and control life-threatening occurrences like heart attack, inability to breath and major traumas. If the threat of death is imminent, the Emergency Room is probably the best place for you. But because of this focus on health problems as single, isolated events, conventional Medical Doctors are often unable to produce satisfactory results when it comes to conditions that are not immediately life threatening: chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, auto-immune disease and mood disorders. Some Medical Doctors are recognizing this failure and seeking additional training after medical school in a relatively new field called Functional Medicine (FM). An MD who practices Functional Medicine is striving to be far more holistic, though there is a lot of variance between practitioners since this holistic training is not required for their medical license. Though many FM doctors still tend toward their original training of single-problem focus, if you have a chronic condition and the option of choosing an MD trained in Functional Medicine over one trained only in the conventional system, definitely pick the FM doctor. They will be much more likely to consider effective non-drug approaches.

 

Acupuncture Physicians, on the other hand, are trained from the get-go to look at the body through a holistic lens, that is to say that they are analyzing how various systems fit together in order to determine the root of the malfunction.  Rather than zeroing in on a single symptom, such as nasal allergies or an abnormal lab result, AP’s are trained to look at really big picture indicators like digestive function, inflammation and constriction of tissues and blood vessels, detailed health history and the relationship between “physical” and “mental” disorders. This holistic approach gives AP’s the advantage when it comes to pain and chronic disorders. The reason is that chronic disorders are never isolated, single body-part events. They always involve multiple systems and evolve through complex mechanisms. If they didn’t, they would never become chronic; they would simply heal themselves or be quickly eradicated by a short-term problem-focused approach like those typically offered by an MD. And there is no drug on the market that corrects the neurological pain impulse the way that Acupuncture does. Pain medications merely dull or mask the pain in the hope that the body will get better on its own in the meantime. My friend Bob Doane puts it best, MD’s treat the symptom and hope the problem goes away; AP’s treat the problem and hope the symptom goes away.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the frightening new practice of MD’s and Chiropractors (DC’s) performing Acupuncture in Florida. These practitioners are required to have little to no training in order to perform needling on their patients. I say needling, because they are really not practicing Acupuncture, which as we discussed is a specific holistic therapy; they are merely memorizing some symptom-focused protocols and applying them across the board.

Well, you say, I just have one problem. Why not just let my DC or MD do my Acupuncture? Their appalling lack of training, that’s why! An AP has about 3,000 hours of training and over 1,000 hours internship in the specific diagnostic system and needling technique which allows them to get results. MD’s are not required to be trained at all in order to perform needling, because their license already covers sticking needles in you! If they elect for membership in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, they are required to have a whopping 220 hours of training, less than 1/10th of what an AP has. Chiropractors (DC’s) are only required to have 100 hours training to stick needles in you in Florida! This is crazy, folks. I would never let someone with so little training treat me. I certainly would never attempt to adjust your neck or perform an appendectomy when you come in for Acupuncture, and DC’s and MD’s shouldn’t be sticking needles in people and calling it Acupuncture.

The one disclaimer I will add to this article is that all of my explanations here are broad generalizations. I did this to simplify the explanation of different types of medical license. However, all doctors are people, and people are individuals with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. In every field there are excellent, qualified individuals who really do get the big picture and know what they’re doing. I have been educated and inspired by many Medical Doctors and Chiropractors through the years. While I’ve studied with a few really outstanding Acupuncture Physicians, I actually get most of my medical information from work done by exceptional MD’s and DC’s. Some of these doctors do have extensive training beyond those required by law or by certification boards. If you’re wondering about a doctor’s training and background—just make sure to ask; don’t assume they’re knowledgeable about a field that may be out of their area of expertise.

I hope I’ve given you a pretty good overview of what it means to be an Acupuncture Physician. I’m happy to answer questions left in the comments section. We’ll be starting up a video blog soon, so please leave your questions in the comments section. Once we get rolling, we’ll answer a question every week. Be well!


Collards with Smoked Ham Hock and Lima Beans

We made this Gaps friendly recipe last month with pasture-raised ham hocks we picked up from the Palafox Farmer’s Market from Roger Elliott of Green Cedars Farm (a charming fellow, if you have yet to meet him). He runs what he calls an ‘environmentally friendly, sustainable, community-oriented agri-tourism farm business’ and with one bite of his product you can taste that those claims are true. [Then go to his website and check out his photos to see some seriously happy pigs! We dare you not to smile.]  Honestly, this recipe is so good that we have made it every week since then – we just can’t get enough! So of course, we had to share it. ☺

Ingredients

4 Tbs coconut oil or bacon fat (or a combination of the two)
3 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 really big bunch of collard greens, stems removed, cut into ribbons and then roughly chopped
1 cup homemade broth or water
2 lbs Green Cedar Farms smoked ham hocks
2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans (omit for Paleo)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Supplies

Stockpot with lid
Big stirring spoon
Cutting board
Sharp kitchen knife

Steps

Melt coconut oil/bacon fat in a stockpot on the stove over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and tender (about 10 mins). If the onions start to brown turn the heat down.
Add the collards and sauté until wilted (a couple of mins)
Add the broth/water and the ham hock, cover and simmer on low for about 40 mins or until the collards are no longer bitter.
Add the lima beans and simmer until cooked through.
Remove pot from heat, take the hocks out, cut the meat from the bone, discard the bones, dice the meat and return it to the pot.
Serve with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Enjoy!


Gulf Coast Wellness Opening November 1!

We are so excited to announce the opening of our Pensacola clinic, located at 310 E Government St.—your new downtown Pcola location for Acupuncture, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and Neuro-nutrient therapy!

Our site is currently under construction, so please pardon the mess. You can still find many of our posts by clicking around, and we should be fully functional soon. If you’re new to us, some great articles to start with are What to Expect at Your First Visit and Acupuncture Done Correctly Gets Results.

Feel free to check out the website for our San Francisco clinic at WoodTigerWellness.com and Like us on Facebook for great health information and promotional opportunities.

We are so excited to be living and working here in Pensacola now. It’s a wonderful community with a real need for more natural healthcare practitioners. Thanks to everyone we’ve met for being so welcoming and helpful. We love it!

Be well,

Dr. Peter Shark, AP NNTS


Myths and Facts About Chinese Medicine Part I

Myths and Facts About Chinese Medicine

 

There are few things more misunderstood than Chinese Medicine is in the West. These days more and more people are hearing about and trying Chinese Medicine, most commonly Acupuncture, to treat their ills. As Chinese Medicine reaches into the mainstream, the misinformation is multiplying exponentially. I can’t speak to every errant idea out there, but I hope to cover some of the biggies in this article. If you’ve been wondering what the heck is going on with this seemingly mystical medicine, read on.

Myth: Acupuncture is Chinese Medicine

Fact: Chinese Medicine is a complete system of medicine, just like Western Medicine. It has a complete system of diagnosis and treatment for any possible dysfunction that may present. This is not to say that Chinese Medicine excels at treating every condition, just that it has a method of diagnosing and treating every condition.

Acupuncture is like the physical therapy of Chinese Medicine. It works with the nervous system, and its number one application is pain relief. In China, Acupuncturists are considered far less skilled than Herbalists.  All of the best and brightest doctoral candidates pursue Herbal Medicine.

Just as Western Medicine is comprised of both Physical Therapy and Medications, Chinese Medicine includes both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Most internal conditions, conditions that relate to organ function, overall circulation and non-musculo-skeletal conditions, are treated primarily with Herbal Medicine. Just like drugs in Western Medicine, herbs allow your Chinese Medicine practitioner to affect organ function, inflammation and circulation.

The other major areas of Chinese Medicine are heat therapy (moxabustion), massage and joint mobilization (Tui Na) and Nutrition. Nutrition is the most important, and most overlooked, aspect of medicine in general. No medical treatment can override what you put in your body multiple times per day if that food/beverage/substance is actively harming you. True health can only result from personal responsibility and a life that supports life.

Read Part II of this series

Read Part III of this series



GAPS Intro Diet Week 1

 

This is my personal account of my own GAPS experience. It’s important to note that my diet may not be correct for you, even if you are doing GAPS. GAPS should be applied to each individual with consideration of their unique health condition and probable food sensitivities. I am tracking and sharing my own diet here just to demystify it a bit. I hope that questions like, “How do I put together a meal?” and, “Should I be living off broth?”(NO!) will be answered in the way that only an illustration of GAPS in action can.

If you are considering GAPS, please make sure to consult with a certified GAPS practitioner (link to online resource to find certified GAPS practitioner) before starting to make sure the GAPS approach is appropriate for you, and so that you have the support you need to trouble-shoot as you go along. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, you can consult with our clinic (email) directly.

I’ve split the article into weeks to make it easier to find the phase you have a question about, so you can come back and reference these articles easily in the future. Good luck! And remember that we at Wood Tiger Wellness are here to help! Just call 415-424-3213 or email info@woodtigeracupuncture.com

A special note about probiotics: I have been eating large amounts of probiotics for a long time. Because of this I jump right in with huge doses of probiotic foods and supplements. PLEASE DO NOT follow my doses! See a certified practitioner to find out how to taper up correctly.

GAPS Intro Phase 1:

The weekend before starting:

This is my prep weekend. I have to make sure I have enough food on hand to keep me from suddenly having to grab lunch out mid-week. For my wife and I, we’ve decided to prepare the following items in advance:

Duck stock w/ duck neck

Lamb broth w/ lamb shank

Mashed Cauliflower

Stewed Onions

Mashed carrots

And we stocked up on the following:

1 dozen Tomatero Farms  pastured  eggs in case we add yolks this week

10-12 c sauerkraut juice: I get this by using a ladel to get all the juice out of the bulk sauerkraut at Rainbow Grocery or ordering from Three Stone Hearth or Back Yard CSA

Lard, Duck Fat and Lard Butter from Avedano’s

Raw Cream to make crème fraiche: Organic Pastures or Claravale