Chinese herbs could help. This month alone, I’ve had three patients gleefully report that their bloodwork numbers were heading in the right direction, eliciting that wonderful response from their surprised-but-pleased physicians: “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” Since heart disease is the number one killer in the US, and high triglycerides and blood sugar mean you’re flirting with Type II diabetes, it’s pretty important to keep those numbers in the normal range.

“Carol,” one of my patients in her 60s, reported her blood pressuretriglycerides, blood sugar, cholesterol all dropping to normal in just three months. What had she been doing? Very little, other than eating fewer baked goods and taking personalized Chinese herbs, and coming in for acupuncture once a month.

I had prescribed a formula comprised of two herbs: red atractylodes rhizome (cang zhu) to reduce the gut microbes like candida that make us tired, achy, itchy, congested, bloated, and infection-prone when we have too much; and super-berberine-rich 30-year-old phellodendron (huang bai) to support insulin receptivity, while reducing blood sugar and fat storage in the liver.

For the high blood pressure, I had given her a formula designed specifically to lower blood pressure in post-menopausal women by nourishing the yin– the cooling, moistening, calming energy of the body. Not only did her blood pressure drop into normal range, she also started sleeping better at night and stay cooler during the day. This is the beauty of treating the underlying pattern, (in this case not enough yin) and not just the symptom.

Reversing metabolic syndrome with diet and lifestyle can be tough; it’s way easier when you have some powerful herb friends on your side. I can introduce you; reach out for an appointment.

Have you seen this chart that’s been making the rounds?

When I first saw it, I thought “Yes. We always have a choice in how we respond.”

Yes, AND, it’s extremely problematic.

If we could simply make up our minds, we’d all choose to abide 24-7 in the light blue sweetness of the Growth Zone, safely insulated from fear and anger and grief and all the other messy emotions. (See how tidy it is? And how self-satisfied we’d get to feel?)

But that’s not how it works.

At the risk of stating the patently obvious, we’re all collectively living through a major traumatic event.

And the chart can be a little shamey of those who perhaps have very good reasons to be in the Fear Zone: losing our income, health insurance, health itself, and people we know, as well as pretty much life as we know it, for an indefinite period of time, is some scary shit.

So I’d like to invoke another meme to remind you — especially if you’ve been “shoulding” on yourself, that:

You're doing just fine

It’s 100% OK to not be in any kind of “go mode” right now.

To move at the speed of your body.

It’s OK to just stop and feel whatever feeling.

Want to move to the Growth band?

We can’t get there without tending to ourselves with care. This starts with giving ourselves permission to feel whatever we’re feeling.

This is not what I was doing last week as I threw myself into learning which herb protocols that were used in China and South Korea to help people with Covid-19, establishing new systems to convert my practice to telemedicine, crafting new coaching offers, pushing myself to be of maximal service, all of this while battling a wicked kidney infection.

It finally hit me at 11:00 PM, 30 minutes after I had supposedly gone to bed, when I found myself urgently putting avocados and oranges in the refrigerator so they wouldn’t ripen too quickly, that I realized I was in the midst of a trauma response.

Some of us go hyperfunctional. Some of us get paralyzed. Neither is better than the other. Both indicate that there’s some emotional tending that needs to happen.

The next day I slowed down. I cried. I let myself feel the fear, the rage at how this is all being handled, the powerlessness, the heartbreak, and let myself be a person.

Paradoxically, the way to get to the Growth zone is to be willing to spend time in the Fear Zone (or the “feeling zone.”)

What’s required is allowing whatever’s coming up to move through you — a task that’s made infinitely harder when we’re judging ourselves (perhaps from the smug comfort of the light blue zone).

To make the chart more accurate, I suggest tearing it up, throwing the pieces up in the air, and allowing them to flit down snow-globe style.

Because being in the Growth Zone requires regular and frequent trips back into feelings, and it doesn’t mean you’re regressing: it means you’re being responsible.

Creating a space to feel can be as simple as pausing when the feelings arise, and allowing. Journaling, meditating, taking media-free walks in nature (if you have access to that) can all help create that container to feel what there is to feel.

Some questions to consider* in those settings, which transcend all the zones:

1) What am I feeling? (emotionally and physically)

2) What am I needing?

4) What can I do to take care of myself?

5) What am I learning?

5) How can I help someone else?

6) What am I ready to leave behind after this is over?

Our ability to access empathy and love depends on our ability to be real with and respond to ourselves, with care. Now more than ever, we’re in this together.

Please take exquisitely good care of yourself. I’m here for you.


P.S. I just learned that I’m allowed to provide telemedicine for anyone residing in Oregon (not just existing patients). I’ve already supported a handful of people through Covid or Covid-esque presentations.

P.P.S. Looking for a way to boost your “protective qi?” Check out this 3-minute video of a simple breathing exercise that can help.

*shout-out to Rachael Weber for suggesting a few of these on a recent course member call