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August 18, 2017

Personal Case Study of “asthma” and living inhaler-free

What is asthma?  Can it be misdiagnosed?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8% of all Americans and 17% of poor, non-white children in the U.S. have asthma.   A little known fact is that asthma can be misdiagnosed.  Asthma, physiologically, is a condition where breathing out is affected by inflammation.  Difficulty breathing IN can be associated with issues of “silent” or non-symptomatic acid reflux where the upper part of the larynx containing acid receptors get triggered and create an inflammatory response.

Dr. Jamie Koufman, author of The Chronic Cough Enigma, found in his 30 years of his medical practice that 80% of his patients did not have asthma but actually had silent acid reflux.  The American College of Gastroenterology found that about 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and of these, about 15 million experience heartburn symptoms every day.  Research confirms that GERD can trigger asthma symptoms and that it is more common in people with asthma than in the general population. Individuals whose asthma is difficult may have underlying GERD.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that babies and young children may have silent GERD or not be diagnosed. Recent studies strongly suggest that GERD aggravates or may be the predominant cause of asthma symptoms in the very young.  GERD affects as many as 89% of all patients with asthma, regardless of their age, sex, or ethnic background (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology).

Some common asthma medications may promote gastric reflux. For example, research has found that prednisone and albuterol can possibly decrease the contracting abilities of the esophageal sphincter, thus allowing reflux.  Other bronchodilators that relax the smooth muscles of the esophagus, can increase the possibility for gastric reflux as well.  It is important to note that many patients who use those specific asthma medications regularly will not necessarily develop GERD or experience worsened symptoms (asthmaandallergies.org).

I believe that my personal experience with asthma may be similarly misdiagnosed or have a mixture of causative agents.  I feel I may have silent acid reflux-related breathing constriction that is often combined with food sensitivities that lead to a severe allergic reaction.  My intention is that in sharing my personal history, others may be more aware of a possible misdiagnosis and that there are more natural and effective options that may not only alleviate the symptoms but also can address the root issue of cause for this condition.  I fully realize that my personal case is unique and individual to me and in no way would recommend that someone follow my story as a “treatment plan”.   Instead, I would refer them to see an acupuncturist as well as an asthma specialist and/or gastroenterologist to design a course of action right for the individual and to determine the condition’s etiology that that specific person.

The medically accepted definition of asthma is very broad and possibly not complete.  The Mayo Clinic definition:  “Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.  For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.”

The Mayo Clinic goes on to say: “Asthma can not be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled.  Asthma signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu”

My story

I was diagnosed with allergy and exercise- induced asthma (EIA) when I was fourteen.  When my throat started to constrict and air would not come into my body, I panicked and thought I was dying! In addition, my hands and ears would itch so badly I wished to tear them off.  My eyes would also itch and swell as big as golf balls to the point of shutting.  All of these symptoms point to anaphylaxis, which is life threatening.   It was and remains to be one of the most scariest situation in my life.  Tests determined I was allergic to near everything under the sun and I was put on steroid inhalers that I was told to take three times a day plus the usual albuterol to stop asthmatic attacks.    I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel against pharma.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with taking the inhalers and didn’t enjoy the “high” every time I took them either.  So instead of taking the inhalers as directed, I eventually trained my lungs to expand whenever my breath started to get wheezy.  I would concentrate on being calm instead of reacting to the wheezing and would take deep and long breaths in and out, holding the breath in between as long as I could.  (Little did I know I was practicing the box breath which is actually a type of yogic pranayama!)  This would slow down the constriction in my airways and if I stopped moving and meditated, the wheezing would go away.  Overtime, I realized I had two different types of reactions.  If my lungs were “touchy” and wheezy I could control my breath and stop the wheezing with pranayama and meditation.  I never had any issues with breathing out so as long as I could calmly and slowly breathe in, I could resist taking my inhaler.   For the past sixteen years, I have not been affected by this kind of breathing issue.  The other type of situation is more severe and results in anaphylactic symptoms.   This condition happened less frequently when I was young- maybe once every six months or so and now happens sometimes years apart.  When I was young, I would stop the situation with the only things available to me at the time (inhalers and benedryl), and would feel completely drained for three days afterwards.  To this day, I still use benedryl for these extreme situations but have been inhaler-free for sixteen years.

When I was 24, I was exposed to this amazing medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which includes herbal medicine as well as acupuncture.  Talk about a game changer!   My teachers also confirmed that breathing IN is not actually asthma but can also be related to having weak kidney Qi (energy) which is responsible for pulling the diaphragm down when we breathe.  There are other related etiologies that theorize a build-up of heat and/ or phlegm (likened to mucous) in other organs such as the lungs, liver, and stomach which ties into Dr. Jamie Koufman’s findings about acid reflux.   Every individual must see an Acupuncturist to diagnose what pattern of organ disharmony is presenting for their unique body and situation.

TCM believes that the mind, body, and spirit are connected and that the spirit actually leads the mind-body.  Therefore in TCM, emotions can often play a huge role in the development of conditions like asthma and allergies.  We can literally be allergic to an emotionally toxic environment.  Stress (triggered by a multitude of emotions) can cause inflammation and affects the immune system.  I can very much relate to this as my living situation was emotionally stressful to me when I developed my symptoms suddenly at age fourteen.  When I moved out of that living situation, my breathing issues and allergies began to improve.  I notice even today that when I am stressed emotionally, my issues have a higher rate of re-appearing.

How to alleviate breathing issues with TCM

Although the symptoms of breathing issues can be alleviated with acupuncture, taking herbal medicine and addressing lifestyle (diet, environment, stress, exercise) is key to addressing the root issue and internal causative factors for breathing issues.  The specific herbal formula must be prescribed by your local licensed Acupuncturist as there are various patterns that could be causing your condition.  Acupuncture can aid in relieving the emotional stress and help guide excess heat/ inflammation from the organs which also helps boost the immune system.  In addition to body points, I always keep ear seeds and needles on me for when I start to have symptoms of an attack.   The itchiness for me is an early indicator and I apply either ear seeds or strong pressure (fingernails are best to the point when you feel pain in the points) to the highlighted energy points on the diagram:

Lifestyle for GERD related Asthma

Herbal medicine is very effective for GERD when treated before longterm use of strong medications.   See a TCM practitioner for a prescription.

Diet:  Physicians recommend that people with reflux problems avoid fatty and fried foods; caffeinated drinks; onions; garlic; tomato-based products; citrus fruits; pepper; chocolate; peppermint; and alcoholic beverages.  Also, eat smaller meals.

Eliminate Tobacco which causes the esophageal sphincter to relax.

Yoga and Pranayama can relieve the stress causative factors and also helps to detoxify the organs so excess heat and toxins can be flushed out from the body.

Avoid eating too late.   Eating right before bed can cause insomnia as well as cause acid to pull upwards when lying down.  Have a three hour buffer period between eating and lying down.

Decrease Environmental Toxins:  We live in a chemical world so reducing your exposure to harmful fluorocarbons and other irritants is extremely important.   It is also incredibly wise to as much as possible decrease emotionally toxic conditions and find a sanctuary of peace at home and work.

April 4, 2017

Building Intuitive Power

We are entering a profound time in history when it is not only encouraged to step into your intuitive power but life will have its way with you until you do. Building intuition is a way to redirect the vibration of survival into the energy of thriving. With intuition, we can move in life with a sense of flow, grace, and ease that up-levels our potential for self-realization and self-expression, reaching the heights of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in life. Intuition is the vehicle through which we can blossom forth our greatest gifts. More than ever, it is inherently your birthright to step into a space of allowing your own gifts to shine. It is time to trust the surrender: to feel moved and supported by something bigger than you can imagine.

The hardest transition to make in our Western culture is to allow for a radical shift from a human “doing” to human “being” state. Why? Because often we have been trained and indoctrinated that our sense of worth is what we can do or achieve. This kind of power is not to be undermined as it does feel good to do and achieve and after all, dreams do require action in order to be realized.

What I am calling forth is the need for balance – bringing the yin to the yang of “doing”. And eventually, this need shows up for everyone. For instance, what happens when you have done and achieved much in life (you have the fancy car, the house, the friends, the vacation/ travel, the optimal body) and yet still remain feeling unsatisfied unseen or unhappy? It’s as if you hit this glass ceiling and you realize there is still so much more to life, so much more to give and do but you can no longer regenerate a profound why behind that movement or you just do not have the clarity of what it is you desire anymore. An underlying depression can set in the more days pass with this “I have everything, why am I not happy?” question haunting you.

This is where flexing your intuition can greatly guide you. After you’ve traveled your known world, it is the teleport vehicle for going into the “unknown” towards the “unseen”. As a practice, it is building a peaceful relationship with not knowing. It is important to pacify and calm your mind so your senses can come online to unpack the other realms of consciousness. After all, the conscious mind is only capable of taking in 50 bits of information out of the 11 million bits per second our body is sending the brain.

There are various ways to step into your intuitive power mindfully so you can fulfill your dreams and your higher calling in life in a way that sprouts happiness and peace for yourself and those around you:

Meditate: the power of of emptying the mind is vast. For some, meditation may be the only thing you may need to do in order to access your intuition and to gain more awareness. There are many forms of meditation but for building intuition, it is best to hone in on a practice that will help you sharpen your sense of body awareness from a place of stillness in the body. It is important to find the practice that works best for you. My own incorporates singing, visualization, or asana yoga beforehand and culminates with a deep listening to my body and whatever feelings arise for me.
Shamanic trance drum: there are many youtube videos to listen to and attune your mind into a this hypnotic state of awareness. It is invaluable to meet your guides and angels which are ultimately aspects of your subconscious self arising in a way we can easily converse with to get clarity and confidence in our life.

Schedule a shamanic healing session. If you are in San Diego, contact Simone at info@sourceempoweredwellness.com There is often a local paper or bulletin that healers can list themselves. A practiced Shamanic healer can utilize their own intuitive power to help you access hidden or repressed emotional, mental, and spiritual stagnation that desires to be expressed and integrated in a healthy way. They can help you journey inwards through trauma or blockages to abundance and love.

Tarot cards and the I Ching – everyone has their own preferences around what kind of divining tools they enjoy using. This is a great exercise to do so you can learn how to incorporate symbols and signs into your life – symbols are the way the universe speaks and expresses in life. Even our spoken language is a compilation of agreed upon symbols so we can share and deepen understanding and connection with others.

Journal: what better way to reflect than to write and be able to revisit your thoughts, emotions, and inspirations? I highly suggest to have a discipline of handwriting a page of free-associative writing first thing in the morning. Free association is writing from a stream of consciousness, without any agenda and just allowing the mind to run and take you somewhere. You’ll be amazed what comes out!

Workshops and retreats – by far, this is the most comprehensive way to tap into your own source. There are many offerings far and wide that may help you. The most effective offerings in my opinion, do not promise results with a complicated process. The ideal workshops and retreats show the way through simplicity; the truths that withstand time are the most simple ones and so it goes with building intuition. The steps are simple but the way can be challenging. Journey with someone who it feels easy to breathe around, someone who is seasoned with holding space for emotions to come up as they so often need to.

Upcoming retreats with Source Empowered Wellness (SourceEmpoweredWellness.com/events):

Sacred Plant Medicines in Peru: Fall in love with yourself! July 14th – 23rd with optional 2 day Add-on to Machu and Wayna Picchu. SIGN UP NOW to reserve the last few spots! Deadline is April 11th.

REveal and REwild Weekend: May 20-21

REveal and REwild in Borneo: Breaking Through the Glass-ceiling for Highly Successful People. October 5-12th

March 5, 2017

The 5 Keys to a Naturally Youthful Face

We can spend so much on creams and products that claim to possess the keys to a youthful ageless face but the reality is that these treatments are not only costly but usually contain chemicals and harmful substances that overtime create other problems and can even dry out the skin.  Let’s not even talk about Botox which is a toxic substance that merely paralyzes the skin!  The skin is your largest organ and helps greatly to detoxify the body as well as protect you – adding harmful agents can greatly decrease its ability to do so.

You can naturally heal and revitalize the skin by incorporating the following habits:

1.  Drink lots of water!
I know, I know… we’ve heard this so many times but seriously your body is over 70% water and the main reason for aging is dehydration.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt and diatomaceous earth to enrich your water with electrolytes and minerals that will help you retain water in the cells of your body.  If you carry a small water bottle, upgrade to a bigger one to remind you of this goal.

2.   Herbs and Oils
Your body needs cholesterol to regenerate and create new cells in the body as well as to regulate and create hormones – these come from eating and cooking with healthy fats like avocado oil, coconut oil, and safflower oil.  Avoid cooking high temperature with olive oil which will make the oil rancid.  Some of these oils are great for the skin topically too!  Add in some herbs and you’ve got homemade creams.  There are many blood moving  hydrating and blood cleansing herbs that rejuvenate the skin topically and orally.  Take frankincense for instance which is an amazing cell rejuvenator!  If you’re looking for a therapeutic grade essential oil you can ingest as well, we suggest doTERRA- beware of ingesting oils that are not therapeutic as these are hepatotoxic!  Spend the extra couple bucks and get quality for results.

3.  BE happy!
Sounds simple but living a stress-free life isn’t – stress creates a chemical soup in your body that can further accentuate wrinkles on your face.  But the actual cause of our wrinkles are really our emotions and the expressions created from them.  Remember when your Mom said to change your frown or it will freeze that way?  Well, in a way she’s right – your muscles have memory and will begin to form patterns of skin on the surface.  Did you know that there is a whole system to reading those wrinkles – its’s fascinating and super accurate!  Take a few moments to breathe and smile every day and reverse some of the worry lines.

4.  Diet and Lifestyle
Chinese Medicine is largely based on the 5 element theory – in fact, all ancient and wise cultures share this system of categorizing the way things work according to the natural elements around us.  Your body is constitutionally dominated by one or more of these elements.  Eating a diet that supports your particular body is important and so is exercises that meet your needs.  Ask your acupuncturist what these are for you next time you come in.

5.  Acupuncture Facials
Did you know that many famous people are using acupuncture facials?  Take beautiful Kim Kardashian – and it’s been featured on Oprah and the Dr. Oz show for it’s efficacy.  These tiny painless needles lift the dermal layers so fresh oxygen and blood can recirculate, breaking up scar tissue and stimulating collagen and elastin.  Natural medicine takes some time but it is safe and the only side effects is that you have more energy, sleep better, digest better, and overall become more balanced.   We recommend you come in 2-3 times a week for 6-10 treatments for the best results and then you may come in monthly for maintenance.

December 16, 2016

5 Foods for the Cold and Flu Season


image: http://www.thesleuthjournal.com

Food is medicine and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has a longstanding history of using diet mindfully to treat conditions.  Sat strong this holiday season by nourishing yourself with the right foods.  Below are are the major foods that can help you fight the cold and flu season:

Bone Broth




TCM views diet with a “like treats like” lens.  Bones are rich in marrow, or blood making cells, and therefore have a lot of healing properties for the blood and help us build blood.  Red meats are the most blood building.  Bones, with all their minerals, also help us rejuvenate and strengthen the kidneys and relax the nervous system.  Buying bones from organic/ grass fed animals is very important. Bone broth is also great for reducing inflammation and healing a leaky gut.  Feel free to add some onion, garlic, ginger, celery and carrot for taste. Make bone broth when you are feeling fatigued or when recovering from sickness or to tonify the immune system.





Viewed in many cultures as “liquid gold”, it has many healing properties.  Not all honey is created equal, as  there are various grades of honey – the most medicinal grades include Manuka Honey.  Some of its healing properties include moistening the lungs, tonifying and lubricating the digestive system, relieving spasms and pain, detoxifying the body, and lowering blood pressure.  Its antibacterial properties help to heal ulcers and wounds and much more.  Take a good tablespoon of raw honey for sore throats with a little bit of hot lemon water.





TCM views diet with a “like treats like” lens.  Bones are rich in marrow, or blood making cells, and therefore have a lot of healing properties for the blood and help us build blood.  Red meats are the most blood building.  Bones, with all their minerals, also help us rejuvenate and strengthen the kidneys and relax the nervous system.  Buying bones from organic/ grass fed animals is very important. Bone broth is also great for reducing inflammation and healing a leaky gut.  Feel free to add some onion, garlic, ginger, celery and carrot for taste. Make bone broth when you are feeling fatigued or when recovering from sickness or to tonify the immune system.





This is a superfood that is highly undervalued.  In addition to lowering blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, it also boosts our immune system.  A large 12-week study concluded that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo.  The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group. Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%.  Garlic also has a history of preventing insect bites if taken orally and the best thing is it takes great cooked!  Try roasting it and spreading it on bread.






When you are sick, this is the perfect food for the weak and taxed body.  Congee is made with rice and water, mixing the two at a 1:10 ratio of rice to water so the food is more like a thick pourridge.  You can add organic chicken broth but mostly it is made to be bland and help give energy to the body without depleting or taxing the digestive system while you are ill.  Add fresh ginger and chopped scallions with the white bulb-like ends to further sweat out the aches and chills associated with the flu.





Ginger is an amazing root and it’s always handy to have some fresh available in your kitchen.  Fresh ginger is much more potent than dried, especially for fighting the cold and flu season.  For sore throat, stomach pain and nausea, vomitting, and chills, you can boil a few chopped pieces for a couple minutes and drink it with some honey.  I reccomend taking a spoonful of raw honey first and then drinking the tea rather than putting it into the tea, which kills the honey’s antibacterial properties.

March 18, 2016

Beauty In Mind, Body, and Spirit

Do you desire to look more radiant and feel more physically balanced?  


Cosmetic Acupuncture treatments are gaining popularity in Hollywood and around the world – even Kim Kardashian benefits regularly from this effective procedure.  Cosmetic Acupuncture is an effective, natural, and safe way to brighten the skin, reduce age spots, lift sagging areas, and fill in wrinkles.  Each session at Source Empowered Wellness includes body points which in addition to the facial points, can also help to clear sinuses, boost energy, restore healthy sleeping patterns, lose weight, de-stress the mind/ body/ spirit, regulate hormones, reduce acne, improve digestion and immunity.


Acupuncture is part of a holistic medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which regards beauty in the multi-dimensional lens of mind, body, and spirit.  By treating the skin, we also encourage the radiance of your spirit and clarity of your mind to shine through into your life as well.