What is Cycle Syncing?

What is Cycle Syncing?, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

Well, let's go over what happens when we don't cycle sync. Basically all the negative things you hear about our menstrual cycles and reproductive health. The list is quite long. All of the coined "PMS" type symptoms such as anxiety, depression, bloating, tender breasts, cramps, infertility, etc. But also really serious health challenges like PCOS, Endometriosis and Fibroids.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why so many of us severely suffer with our hormones? For one, we've been conditioned to think that the best way to "be or live" is within the more linear masculine context and we haven't been taught to honor our unique female bodies and needs. Second, the only solutions that doctors have for us is to either prescribe us drugs and birth control pills to mask symptoms and sweep them under the rug and more extremely cut out our female organs.

Did you know that there are prime times to be at rest and other times to be in high activity? Did you also know that our brain chemistry changes within a menstrual month and that our intuition and spatial awareness doubles and even triples during certain phases? Your nutritional needs also shift. This is super powerful information. This is where cycle syncing comes into play. If we focus on body literacy, we can hone in and "attune" to what our bodies need at certain times through our menstrual month. 

Let's face it! Women are dynamic beings. We are meant to dance the embodied dance, it's in our physiology. Even Western Medicine recognizes that we have four distinctly different phases, all within a month's time, so how are we expected to function and be the exact same way all month long? We have a long history of being controlled. Women run with the wolves and our wild has been tamed for too long. So much that our collective health is suffering. Let's reclaim our wisdom and take ownership of our health and the health of future generations. 

Cycle Syncing is understanding the positive aspects of your female cycle, focusing on body literacy and self-awareness. We then learn the best practices for our 4 menstrual cycle phases with nutrition, activity and self-care rituals.

If you are seeking deeper understanding, join me in my online course Feminine Cycle 101.

Much love,
Kris

Qi Tonic Herbal Blend

Pre-Menstrual :: Inner Autumn Recipe

Qi Tonic Herbal Blend, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

Hydrated through foods

I've shared with a lot of my clients that it's not easy for me to stay hydrated with just plain water. I like a little flavor in my liquids. Squeeze of lemon or herbal tea is more my style. I normally make a daily brew of big batch herbal teas and then sip on them all day. I feel out my energy that morning and ask myself what I need and then always cross reference that to where I am in my cycle. Sometimes, I'll make a blend of nettles, raspberry leaf, chamomile and rose petals. Other days I'll add in american ginseng slices or switch out the rose petals for hibiscus. Right before my period comes, in my premenstrual phase, energy slight dips. In order to sustain the qi necessary for this phase, I'll incorporate a qi tonic brew. 

Here's what you'll need: 

1. Place all herbs in a large pot with 8 cups of water
2. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a light boil to a simmer. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and cook for 20-30 minutes
3. Strain the tonic into a 2 quart glass jar, cool and then store in the fridge 

Here are several ways you can enjoy this tonic:
1. Warm up portions and sip as an herbal tea
2. Use 2 cups in place of water in soups; it has a mild to moderate flavor
3. My favorite! Use 2 cups in place of water in your morning oatmeal. To boost qi during your pre-menstrual phase, add in fruits such as raisins, apples, dates and pears. You can even add in some more gojis. Enjoy!

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

After Moon Herbal Soup

Pre-Ovulation :: Inner Spring Recipe

After Moon Herbal Soup, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

Do you cook with herbs? It's quite easy to add them into the recipes you already prepare for yourself. Take for example chicken soup. After your next period, try adding the herbal ingredients above to the broth. It will help boost yin, blood and qi! All the things you really need after your bleed. 

In China, women traditionally consume a dish after their periods are finished called Dang Gui Soup. You may have heard of Dang Gui (Angelica Sinensis), sometimes called Tang Kuei. It's also known as the "female ginseng" and "state of return". It strongly builds blood and regulates menstruation by circulating and enriching yin. The soup made by Chinese women is quite strong and it's hard to talk women with western palates to keep the practice up, so I've compiled a more milder version. 

What you'll need: 

  • 2-3 lbs of chicken pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 in piece of ginger, slivered or grated
  • 10 grams Dang Gui (you can start smaller like with 3-5 grams)
  • 20 grams Astragalus
  • 1 rounded tbsp of goji berries
  • 6 chinese red dates (jujubes), seeded
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 medium carrots and 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, coconut aminos or tamari
  • green onions, chopped for garnish

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbarapicture above: grated ginger, all herbs put in gauze bags, 2 tbsp of rice wine

1. In a large soup pot, combine chicken, water and salt. Bring this to a boil while skimming off any excess fat
2. Place all herbs into cooking tea bags as pictured above, this will make it easier to remove the herbs, you can choose to put the goji & jujubes in the soup if you'd like
3. Add the herbs, ginger and rice wine to the pot and bring it back to a boil. Quickly lower the heat to a simmer, covered but slightly ajar for about 45 minutes. Skim off any excess fat
4. Finally, add in the carrots and celery and cook for another 10-15 minutes until soft.
5. Remove the bags of herbs, add the soy sauce to taste and garnish with green onions to serve

If you are still adverse to the highly herbal taste, you can reduce the amount of dang gui to 3-5 grams and then gradually raise the dose to 10g. This soup can have many variations when you try it with different vegetables. 

Enjoy!

Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)

Ovulation Phase :: Inner Summer Recipe

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup), Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

photo from NY Times Cooking

This is the quintessential summer meal in South Korea. A soup? In hot summer weather? Yep, it's actually the most ideal food to eat on the most hottest days of the summer. Wonder why? It's all about the ingredients!

My mom says there's a saying: Yi yeol chi yeol (以熱治熱: 이열치열), which means “fight fire with fire.” In food energetics, chicken is warming to the body. The other ingredients such as ginseng and dates are qi tonics in Chinese & Traditional Korean Medicine. Consuming these during the hot days will keep up your energy, moderate heat and help your body to generate fluids. 

What you'll need:

  • 2 cornish hens about 1.5 lbs each
  • ½ cup short grain rice (or glutinous rice), rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 2 fresh ginseng and/or milk vetch roots (astragalus)
  • 4-6 large dried jujubes, washed
  • 16 garlic cloves, washed and the tips are removed
  • 2 to 3 green onions, chopped (for topping later)
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • sesame seeds and sesame oil

Here's a picture from when I made it last summer with my mama. We used milk vetch root which is astragalus. 

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

1. Soak your rice for at least 1 hour, strain and set aside
2. Wash your hens
3. Stuff each hen with half of the rice, some jujubes, ginseng or astragalus and garlic
4. You can choose to close the opening with some toothpicks or leave it open
5. Place hens in a heavy pot and add 8 cups of water, cover and cook over med-high for 30 minutes. Then turn down the heat to medium, cook for another 40 minutes until everything feels soft. Skim the top from time to time. Add more water if needed.

For serving:
1. Place each hen in separate bowls, add some broth, sprinkle with green onions
2. For dipping sauce mix salt, pepper, sesame seeds and sesame oil
3. Enjoy!

Moon Juk aka Period Porridge

Blood Phase :: Inner Winter Recipe

Moon Juk aka Period Porridge, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

Food Therapy is a huge part of my practice. I teach women that during their periods (moontime), the most ideal foods to consume are cooked, warmed and nourishing. An ideal dish to incorporate all of these aspects is a porridge. In walks in Moon Juk (juk is Korean for porridge), the period porridge. Here's the ingredients and why it's so beneficial during our restorative bleeding time. 

Adzuki Beans: High is easily digestible protein & helps with blood circulation
Job's Tears: It simultaneously drains fluid retention (bloating) while nourishing body fluids (beautifies skin) and reduces inflammation in the body.
Rice: Super easy to digest, sweet rice is a little higher in protein. You can find sweet rice at any Asian grocery store.
Longan Berries: Blood building tonic

Moon Juk (To be consumed all 4 days of your period for breakfast) 4 servings:

1/4 cup adzuki beans
1/4 cup job's tears
1/4 cup jasmine white rice
1/4 cup sweet rice
1/4 cup longan berries

Here's a video on how to make it!

I like to soak the first 4 ingredients for several hours or overnight. Rinse until water runs clear. Add all ingredients including longan berries into a crockpot. Add 6-8 cups of water and cook on low overnight. (Note: some crockpots temperatures vary. If yours runs too low, you may need to use the high setting and just add in more water) It is more beneficial if you cook this slow and long so that you can pull out all of the benefits. You can also use the "porridge" setting on most rice cookers. For rice cookers use 5-6 cups of water.

Moon Juk can be enjoyed like an oatmeal porridge or you can warm it and blend it into a warm smoothie. Feel free to sprinkle some cinnamon on there. Add a bit of honey to sweeten if your heart desires. See pics below for the porridge and warm blended versions.

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?

Bean Cycling? Yes, I made it up! The term, but not the practice. It’s a thing, I promise. I know you’re probably envisioning Mr. Bean on a bicycle. Oh, wait. That wasn’t the first thing to cross your mind? Whoops! Sorry for that visual! Anywho, you probably haven’t heard of bean cycling but you have heard of seed cycling so let’s do a quick review first.

What is Seed Cycling?

We all know that our hormones go up and down during our menstrual month. We are dynamic beings. If everything is copacetic, estrogen goes up in the first 2 weeks and progesterone goes up in the last 2 weeks. In Chinese Medicine, estrogen is akin to Yin; all the fluids, blood and substance of the body. Basically all the juicy stuff. Estrogen is necessary in the first 2 weeks, because #1, you are bleeding (losing yin/blood) and #2, yin is necessary to mature a new follicle and build a luscious lining.

Side note: Boy, estrogen gets a bad rap these days, doesn’t it? But, we need it ladies. It’s what makes us be all feminine and stuff. Of course, we are exposed to a lot of fake type estrogens that throws our whole system off, but we’ll talk about that in another blog post.

So what about progesterone? It’s the Yang of the two female reproductive hormones. It’s the warmth, holding, active counterpart to estrogen. Okay, so what does this have to do with seeds, Kris? Bringing it back, we can eat certain seeds to support these natural increases of each hormone.

The Seed Cycling Protocol

Days 1-14: Estrogen Boost with 1 tbsp each of Pumpkin Seeds & Flaxseeds

Days 15-28: Progesterone Boost with 1 tbsp each of Sunflower Seeds & Sesame Seeds


You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara
photo by voi.com.au

 

Okay, so you get the gist of seed cycling, so what’s this Bean Cycling thing I’m talking about? I educate women on how to honor their tides, meaning that our physiological menstrual cycle has ups and downs, so why do we feel the need to function at full speed e’re day? We have distinct phases and distinct needs during each phase. We have what’s called inner seasons. Our needs change in each season and when we honor that, we achieve harmonious hormones.

What’s Bean Cycling?

I am a huge proponent of food as medicine. I practice Food Therapy with the lens of East Asian Medicine where each food has properties and tastes just like strong herbal medicines. We can use foods to enhance health and also use foods to regain lost health. In my Menstrual Attunement Program, I teach women about what foods are best during each phase of the menstrual cycle, because your body needs different things at different times.

Just as with seed cycling, we’ll use beans to harness the best potential for each phase of the menstrual cycle. When I say “beans”, I’m talking about legumes. Oh yeah, and just because Adzuki beans are listed in the Period Phase, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them all month long in moderation. It’s just the best “bang for your buck” during the period phase. Here’s the Bean Cycling Protocol and the reasons behind it:

Best Beans for Each Menstrual Phase

Days 1-4 :: Blood Phase :: Period Phase :: Inner Winter

Adzuki Beans: The color red influences the Heart & Blood. These tiny red beans tonify the kidney-adrenal function, detoxifies the body, disperses stagnant blood, reduces swelling and has a diuretic effect

Days 5-12 :: Yin Phase :: Follicular Phase :: Inner Spring

Black Beans: The color black influences the kidneys & reproductive functions. Black beans build yin fluids and blood as well as being diuretic

Kidney Beans: These big red beans increase yin fluids, reduces swelling and edema; the name also suggests that it’s good for our kidneys

Lentils: Benefits the Heart and circulation, stimulates the adrenals and increases vitality (jing/essence). Also a diuretic

Days 13-16 :: Yang Phase :: Ovulation :: Inner Summer

Red Lentils: All the benefits of lentils but slightly warmer than other types of lentils so it helps with ovulation

Days 17-28 :: Qi Phase :: Luteal Phase :: Inner Autumn

Navy Beans: Cooling, beneficial to the lungs and beautifies skin

Mung Beans: Cooling, detoxifying, beneficial the the liver as it’s green in color; alleviates excessive heat and fluid accumulation in the body

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

So how do I practice this? I normally pick a bean/legume for each phase. I prepare it in bulk and then warm up portions and enjoy it as a side dish, part of soups/stews, or cook it with my grains. My mom is Korean and you will often see multi-grain rice mixed with beans. They are cooked and enjoyed together. Here’s an example:

Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara
photo by Beyond Kimchi

What’s all the fuss about?

Beans & Legumes are staple foods all around the world. Here are some benefits:

1. High in Protein: Great source of vegetarian protein.
2. High in Fiber: Supports daily bowel movements which is absolutely crucial for hormonal harmony. Because of the high fiber, they help to stabilize blood sugar; another really important factor in hormonal health. And because it does these 2 things really well, it aids with any weight loss goals.
3. Most are longevity foods: In Chinese Medicine, beans & legumes are seen as longevity foods. They are the fruit and seed of the plant. They hold all the potential of that plant. When you consume them, you harness all that potential.
4. Good for Heart Health

But, Kris, I don’t digest beans well……

I hear this a lot and I can attest to this personally. It’s because we’re not really taught how to prepare them properly. Here’s some tips!

1. Rinse all legumes thoroughly
2. Soak em! Soak em real good! In warm water like at least 8 hrs (basically overnight) and up to 24 hrs. Lentils, split peas and split mung beans don’t need much soaking. Maybe just an hour.
3. Some people like to add an acidic medium like 1 tbsp of vinegar, lemon juice or a pinch of baking soda to enhance the process.
4. Don’t ever eat them raw; cooking eliminates all or most of the indigestible components.
5. After soaking, you must rinse them. I’d do it several times. That liquid the legumes were soaking in contains a lot of that indigestible stuff.
6. Add water to cover at least 3 inches and they are ready to cook! For increased digestibility, add a big piece of kombu seaweed to the pot of legumes and water before boiling. Remove the kombu at the end. Enjoy!

So What’s the Take Away?

Beans are a magical fruit, and the more you eat, the more you….lol...okay, in all seriousness, you can cycle your beans to follow your menstrual cycle and gain the most benefits from them during certain phases. Plus, they have so many added benefits. Eat your beans! Share some of your favorite recipes with me!!!

Be Well & In Health,

Kris

Heart :: Womb Connection

It's happened to you or a friend. An emotional trigger or trauma completely messes up your period. It's late, or comes way too early, maybe cramping is the worse you've ever experienced or maybe your period completely disappeared since the emotional onset. Why does this happen? And more importantly, is there something you can do to get back to your cyclic harmony? 

Your Heart is intimately connected to your Womb. In Chinese Medicine, there's a channel called the Bao Mai (The Uterus Vessel) that connects your heart to your uterus; a direct link!! This explains the profound influence of mental-emotional triggers of the Heart and it's affects on the Uterus. Basically a broken heart can break the connection of your Bao Mai!! And since we all process emotions differently, our experiences will be unique. Some of us respond with anger, some of us repress while others just sink deep in the grief. There are many passages in ancient texts that talk about how different emotions affect our uteri. 

by HeatherSays.comby HeatherSays.com

For example, The "Simple Questions" in chapter 33 says: "The Uterus Vessel pertains to the Heart and extends to the Uterus" and "When the period does not come it means the Uterus Vessel is obstructed".

Again, in "Simple Questions" chapter 44 says: "Sadness leads to severance of the Uterus Channel: when this is severed Yang Qi is agitated in the Interior and the Heart causes menorrhagia".

The "Secret Record of the Orchid Room" says: "Mental strain and stress weakens the Heart, Heart-Fire rises and the periods do not come".

Let's dig deeper, but first some definitions:
Shen - Spirit
Kidney Jing - The kidneys are home to our Jing; our essence (the most dense physical matter, similar to DNA). This is where are reserves are stored.
Tian Gui - Menstrual Blood aka Heavenly Water
Heart Yang - The warmth and movement potential of the Heart

Your heart houses Shen (your Spirit) and governs blood. It is said that the Heart Yang connects with the Kidney Jing in order to build (Tian Gui) menstrual blood, your heavenly water. So you can see that if something affects the energetics of your heart, it cannot carry out it's function of mutually binding with essence to build menstrual blood. Healthy menstruation and fertility is highly dependent on the state of your Heart as well as your Kidney Jing. 

Christine Taneil Canaday, LMFT talks about this intimate relationship in what she calls Moontime Mindset. She says "Moontime Mindset is a model of self-care for women acknowledging the natural relationship between emotional well-being and menstrual health." You often hear about how stress affects our health. Part of our health is our emotional well-being. When life gets especially overwhelming, I am all about getting the help you need. There is strength in reaching out for help. 

So how can we cycle back into harmony once our periods are affected? Here's some strategies:

1) Acknowledge the Emotion: Talk to yourself via a journal or talk to someone else (a friend, a therapist)
2) Heart/Womb Meditation: One hand over your Heart and the other over your Womb. Visualize the connection, focus on breath and sending love and free flow through the channel. Listening to music can help ease into the space.
3) Rely on your Rituals & Routines: The #1 thing you can do for your cycle harmony is to get back to normal routines and rituals. Your body, including your menstrual cycle thrives on rhythms. Start by looking at the moon phases, tracking your cycle and simply observing your states.
4) See your Acupuncturist & get on some herbs: Your acupuncturist has a way of seeing patterns. Because of this, they will know what can correct the pattern; with acu-points and herbal formulas. 

Caring for your Heart is Caring for Your Womb.

Be Well & In Health,
Kris