LiveWell®

Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing


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Curious about holistic health? Start here.

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing - WestHealth in Plymouth is under construction, set to open in August 2014

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – WestHealth in Plymouth, Minn. is under construction.

Come and tour the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s new integrative health clinic set to open at Abbott Northwestern – WestHealth in Plymouth, Minn. this August.

The new clinic will host an open house on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 3-6 p.m. Come and learn how integrative medicine consultations, acupuncture, Resilience Training, fitness consultations, and nutrition can help you become the healthiest version of yourself.

The new clinic’s physician, advanced practice nurse, acupuncturists, health coach, nutritionist and other experts will be on hand to answer your questions.

All are welcome, and no registration is required. Refreshments will be provided.

Acupuncture.80411347


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The evolving field of holistic health – from alternative medicine to integrative health

By Zena Kocher, LAc, MaOM, licensed acupuncturist, Penny George™ Institute for Health and Healing

At the end of my senior year of high school, our yearbook held predictions about each graduate’s future. It was predicted that I would quit my position as editor and chief of the New York Times to become a Zen Buddhist monk.

Even though this was one of the more absurd prophecies, this prediction actually hinted at my career path. Indeed, I did leave behind my dream of becoming a journalist to become a Chinese Medicine and integrative health provider at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

I think a Zen Buddhist monk is the closest comparison to an acupuncturist that the yearbook committee could find. In high school, none of us had heard of acupuncture, and the field of integrative health – sometimes called holistic health – did not even exist. We didn’t yet have the language to describe my future profession.

Holistic health – focused on the body, mind and spirit – has evolved over the last thirty years from alternative medicine to complementary medicine to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to integrative medicine, and most recently to integrative health.

Though 50 million people use integrative health services in one form or another – be it acupuncture or meditation or integrative nutrition counseling – it is still relatively uncommon for conventional health care organizations to adopt integrative health services and programs.

The main tenets of integrative health have become established with holistic physicians and nursing programs around the nation. CAM providers have teamed up in clinics and hospitals to offer integrative health services.

I work for Allina Health’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, the largest integrative health program within a health system in the nation. We have been tasked with expanding our program across the hospitals of Allina Health. This means more hospitalized patients will have access to services like guided imagery, aromatherapy and massage therapy to help support their recovery, manage pain, deal with anxiety and sleep better.

Many health care systems look to the Penny George Institute for a better understanding of how to develop successful integrative health programs and improve health care overall. Fortunately, the Penny George Institute has a research team to collect and analyze data to help us better understand how and when integrative health therapies help patients the most.

Still, the language and science about what we do is still in the making. A deep understanding of how and why some integrative therapies work has not yet been revealed.

As clinicians, we are at the center of this evolving field. We have a crucial and unique perspective. What we see, experience, and practice helps define integrative health. It’s an exciting place to be.

In future blog entries, I plan to put my journalism skills to work by interviewing my colleagues about our work. I hope this collection of upcoming interviews will provide insights into integrative health care.

Zena Kocher, LAc, MaOM, is a licensed acupuncturist with Allina Health’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. She provides integrative health services to hospitalized patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.


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Combat winter blues with aromatherapy

CitrusBy Julie Streeter, RN, NCTMB, Certified Aromatherapist, learning and development specialist

As the days get shorter and the sun becomes less intense, my overall mood seems to diminish. One way I combat the winter blues is through aromatherapy, which uses essential oils from plants to maintain and restore health.

I love the fresh, clean aroma of citrus oils and find that even a quick spritz of a citrus spray can improve my mood and refocus my attention. An added bonus is that the citrus oils can be used for green cleaning too.

Smell is one of our strongest senses. When we breathe in an aroma, scent molecules travel through the nose to the olfactory membrane. The receptors there recognize scent molecules and send messages to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system holds involuntary emotional responses, and we assign emotions to the aromas we breathe in.

That is why when I smell citrus, I am reminded of words like clean, uplifting and fresh, and I am transported back to summer days sipping lemonade by the lake.

One of my favorite citrus blends includes the essential oils of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and lemon (Citrus limon). I make the following citrus spray for a mood enhancer.

Citrus spray: Take a four-ounce spray bottle and fill it with 3.5 ounces of water. Add 12 drops of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), 12 drops of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and 12 drops of lemon (Citrus limon) essential oils. When ready to use the spray, shake the bottle and spritz into the air.

Although the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing clinics in Minneapolis and Fridley sell essential oils, they do not carry these particular ones. You can order citrus oils online from Plant Extracts International, which supplies Allina Health with essential oils.

But wait … it gets even better. The citrus oils not only have wonderful aromas that remind us of summer days, they also have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.  Essential oils are made up of many chemical components.  In citrus oils, the main chemical component is d-limonene, which research has shown has disinfectant properties.

During winter months with bacteria and viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces, I use the citrus spray on my countertops and door knobs to fight germs.

When using citrus oils, it is important to note some safety concerns:

  • Citrus oils should not be applied directly to the skin as they can be irritating.
  • If applying to skin, citrus oils should be mixed in a carrier oil (like jojoba or grape seed) or unscented lotion at a 1 percent dilution, or 5-6 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of oil or lotion.
  • Most citrus oils are phototoxic, which means that if the oils are used on the skin and the skin is exposed to sunlight, the ultraviolet rays of the sun are enhanced and sunburn may occur. To be safe, cover up any exposed skin for 24 hours after applying citrus oils when going outside.
  • It is best to use organic or unsprayed citrus oils because they are made from the rind of the fruit. Pesticides have been found in citrus essential oils that are not grown organically.

So, if you are feeling like the winter blues are setting in, try mixing up some citrus spray to improve your mood, and wipe down a few countertops while you are at it.

Julie Streeter, RN, NCTMB, is a Certified Aromatherapist and a learning and development specialist for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. The Penny George Institute sells essential oils for aromatherapy at its outpatient clinics at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Unity Hospital. The Penny George Institute also offers aromatherapy classes and services.


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My path to the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Debra Bell, MD, hiking wth her husband, Daniel Wolpert.

Debra Bell, MD, hiking wth her husband.

By Debra Bell, MD

This fall marks the start of a new chapter for me in a more than 25-year journey as a family medicine and integrative medicine physician.

In September, I started offering integrative medicine consultations alongside two other physicians and a clinical nurse specialist at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – Abbott Northwestern Outpatient Clinic. I am part of a team of integrative health practitioners, including acupuncturists, massage therapists, integrative nutritionists, and a psychologist.

As a new team member, I’ve been asked to introduce myself and my style of practice. Doing that requires giving you some history on how I got here.

I consider my work in health care a calling. I was exposed at an early age to medicine and drawn to the notion of helping people. As a pre-med student, I became interested in women’s studies and birthing practices. I found inspiration from my mother’s first edition books from the 1950s and 1960s about natural childbirth and breastfeeding and went on to study natural remedies used by midwives and ancient healers.

In medical school, I took a year off to concentrate on an independent study of natural medicine. I met my husband, and we spent 10 months traveling internationally visiting spiritual communities around the world. This led us to choose a simple life in which health and spiritual well-being are a priority.

We moved to Vermont, where we had a small, commercial, organic farm. I started an integrative medicine family practice and home birth private practice. Later we moved to California, where my husband attended graduate school, and I worked in a practice with other integrative medicine providers. I enjoyed having like-minded colleagues, and we learned a lot from each other.

From California, we moved to Crookston, Minn. People often ask how we ended up moving to northwest Minnesota. Divine intervention? I felt drawn to the area for a number of reasons. I found the open space and big sky breathtaking. In my practice, I could offer my services to a broader population, and the clinic at the local hospital was very supportive.

I was pleased by the number of community members who previously had never considered natural therapies but decided to come to see me because they wanted a holistic approach. Often, they did not want another prescription and did want to address more than physical symptoms. With an integrative medicine approach, we could address all aspects of well-being and healing ― work life, home life, exercise, diet, stress, coping skills, emotional well-being, and spirituality

Holistic medicine refers to focusing on the “body mind and spirit,” but often there is less emphasis on the “spirit.” I try to make sure I focus on all three.

In time, I created an integrative medicine center in partnership with the hospital. I worked with acupuncturists, massage therapists, spiritual directors and others as a team to provide holistic care.

After 13 years in Crookston, I am ready for this new chapter at the Penny George Institute. I’m looking forward to working with a remarkable team of practitioners and serving patients in Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities area.

Debra Bell, MD, is now seeing patients. She offers an integrative medicine, or holistic, approach, to women’s health, fibromyalgia, fatigue, allergies, chronic disease and nutrition. Call 612-863-3333 to learn more or schedule an appointment.


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The scent of sweet marjoram, and the power of integrative therapies

Aromatherapy

by Vicky Grossman, NCTM, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

I work for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing as an integrative health practitioner at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Certified in massage therapy, I offer hospitalized patients massage therapy , aromatherapy, reflexology, relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and energy work such as healing touch or Reiki,.

I am at times struck by how these therapies and approaches help different people heal in different, and sometimes powerful, ways. One moment like this occurred with a patient who was hospitalized with a form of an inflammatory bowel disease.

The patient, who ultimately needed surgery, experienced a great deal of pain and anxiety prior to that. I treated this patient several times. Our first encounter included reflexology, using pressure points and massage on the feet, and aromatherapy. I used the essential oil sweet marjoram to address the pain.

The patient’s response to the inhalation of sweet marjoram was nothing less than an amazing surprise, even to me!  The patient enjoyed the scent immensely and found it not only helped with the pain, but also with the anxiety. Following these treatments, the pain was reduced, and the anxiety dropped to almost nothing.

At one point, the patient was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in an emergent situation. While there, the patient was sedated and not particularly interactive.  When I visited the ICU, I left sweet marjoram with a family member of the patient to use once the patient became more alert.

I was told that periodically the patient’s blood pressure or respiration would become elevated, and the patient’s family member would administer the sweet marjoram for inhalation. He was astounded at how the blood pressure and respiration would return to a normal range.

I feel honored to treat patients with what can be a powerful combination of healing therapies and approaches. There is such great potential for gain in using these non-invasive, non-pharmacological approaches to pain managment, anxiety and healing.

If you want to learn more about integrative health approaches to help with pain, stress management, cancer care, or even just health and wellness improvement, visit the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing Web site. If pain is an issue for you, visit our online pain education tool, which introduces integrative approaches for pain management.


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Three ways to fight cold and flu with aromatherapy

by Mary Ellen Kinney, RN, BA, HN-BC, CCAP, Integrative Health Nurse Clinician

Recently, a friend invited me to a play.  She was so generous that she not only bought my ticket, she also shared her flu virus with me! Three days later, a dry throat, a headache, sneezing and aching muscles started.

I knew this was a possibility. So to boost my immune system, I started aromatherapy ― the use of essential oils from specific plants to maintain and improve health.  Though the dry throat and sneezing continued for a few days, the symptoms stopped there. I’m convinced aromatherapy shut down the flu.

Here are three strategies that worked for me that you can try, too:

  1.  A diffuser – This is a small device used to disperse essential oils so that the scent enters the surrounding air. I used my diffuser for five nights while I slept until the symptoms resolved. My diffuser holds about two cups of distilled water to which I added 10 drops of two oils ― Ravensara (agathophyllum aromatica) and Eucalyptus radiata (eucalyptus radiate). Both contain ingredients with antiviral properties. If you don’t have a diffuser, simply put two drops of each essential oil on a tissue and slide it between your pillow and pillowcase.
  2. Steaming water – Heat up water to almost boiling, pour it in a bowl, add two drops of essential oil, put a towel over your head (which you hold over the bowl), and breathe the steam vapors for about five minutes. It’s important to keep your eyes closed the whole time. Steaming is also effective when your sinuses are congested. You can steam with Eucalyptus Radiata or the stronger Eucalyptus Globulus.
  3. Massage – I massaged an aromatherapy blend of essential oils on the skin of my neck, upper chest, the base of my head and my face (especially under my nose) to keep my immune system strong. I blended two drops each of Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) and Blue Cypress (callitris intratropica) with a teaspoon of jojoba massage oil. Essential oils can be blended into any unscented lotion or massage oil.

 

You don’t need to go out and buy all these essential oils. Instead, consider which essential oil most interested you, and start with that one. The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing Outpatient Clinics in Minneapolis and Fridley sell a selection of essential oils. If you want to order online, the companies I know to be reputable are Plant Extracts International, Aromatics International, Aromaceuticals and Mountain Rose.

Before you start, here a couple of safety tips:

  • Always dilute essential oils before applying to the skin. A one percent to four percent dilution is best. Less is better than more in aromatherapy. One drop of essential oils in one teaspoon of carrier oil/massage lotion gives you a one percent dilution.
  • If you are pregnant, have medical problems, or are tending to a child under the age of six, it is wise to use essential oils under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.