Cold Water or Whole Body Cryotherapy Which (if any) Shall You Use? Active Recovery = ↑ Testosterone = ↑ Gainz?

The use of and effects of post-workout stretching and related purported recovery boosters on the adaptational response to sports is IMHO astonishingly under-researched (Barnett 2006).

The latest issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology features not one, but rather a bunch of interesting and (in many cases) practically relevant papers. Reason enough for me to address them in this year’s first Exercise Research Update – a research update I will publish in form of two individual articles with the first one (the one you’re about to read) addressing recovery techniques and their potential role in modulating your training results.

More specifically, we are going to take a fresh look at the latest data related to the effects of different cooling techniques and the use of active recovery on your performance, size & strength gains… but now, without further delay, here’s the gist + implication for today’s studies.

Both, hypoxia/BFR and compression garments may also affect ‘ur recovery after workouts

BFR, Cortisol & GH Responses

BFR – Where are we now?

BFR as Add-On to Classic Lifts

BFR for Injured Athletes

Compression Tights = WIN!?

BFR + Cardio = GainZ?
  • The use of cooling as a short-term intervention after endurance event – Cold water immersion or whole boy cryotherapy (Wilson 2018)? As a SuppVersity reader you have long been aware of the fact that cryo-therapy is by no means the super-beneficial recovery tool as which it is often portrayed in the (sports) media world (reread “Using Ice / Cold Water Immersion After Workouts Will Impair Muscle and Strength Gains, as well as Vascular Adaptations” | originally published in July 2015).
    4x fail – if you look at the latest cold-water immersion science | more

    Concerns about potential negative effects on the adaptational response to exercise exist (all rooted in science, by the way) for both: whole body cryotherapy (WBC) and cold water immersion (CWI). Against that background, it is a pity that Laura J. Wilson et al. had their thirty-one endurance trained perform only one exercise test to measure acute effects on recovery.

    To do so, the participants were randomly assigned to a CWI, WBC or placebo group. Perceptions of muscle soreness, training stress and markers of muscle function were recorded before the marathon and at 24 and 48 h post exercise.

    As previously hinted at, blood samples were taken exclusively at baseline, post intervention and 24 and 48 h post intervention – to make statements about the more problematic long-term effects of cryotherapy based on the data from the study at hand is thus not possible.

    Figure 1: left – Comparison of changes in PT extension at 60° s− 1 as a percentage of baseline scores; right – Changes in perceptions of muscle soreness. Values are presented as mean± SD (Wilson 2018).

    Even in the short run, however, WBC had a “harmful effect on muscle function” – allegedly, though, only when compared to CWI post marathon, which would thus be the go-to method for optimal acute muscle recovery after endurance events.

    Or not? Well, for destressing (more psychological than physiological effect), WBC seems to have the competitive edge as it “positively influenced perceptions of training stress compared to CWI” (Wilson 2018). With the exception of C-reactive protein (CRP) at 24 and 48 h, neither cryotherapy intervention positively influenced blood-borne markers of inflammation or structural damage compared to placebo.

    Implications: While the study does not address the problem of the anti-hormetic (=anti-adaptational) effects of the chronic use of cryotherapy, it does confirm that it can have benefits in the short term. In that, you should use the cold water over the (also less readily available) whole body cryotherapy as it appears to be the therapy with the greater (positive) impact on performance recovery – in fact, the observed differences between WBC and CWI suggest that the latter does in fact work, while the former is more or less just a placebo (with people being indoctrinated that CWI works, they feel recovered after going to the technically obviously more impressive process of whole body cryotherapy).

  • Active recovery = improved hormonal response to exercise, but whether that’s more than a theoretical advantage is not clear, yet (Taipale 2018). From previous SuppVersity articles and the “Intermittent Thoughts About Building Muscle”, you, as a seasoned SuppVersity reader already know that the role of acute exercise-induced increases of testosterone, GH, and all the other alleged “muscle builders” do not affect the post-workout protein synthesis and thus your gains significantly. Whether and to which extent a certain workout will boost your T, GH and other hormone levels should thus not constitute the main criterion you use when you’re compiling your 2018 workout…
    Studies in men suggest no effect of the hormonal response on training outcome – What about women? A new study provides insights that may be relevant for both female and male gymrats, but do not change how you should approach your workout planning wrt exercise selection, volume, etc. | learn more.

    … and still: a systematic (positive or negative) effect could – in the long rung – have physiologically relevant effects. You may remember the West-study I discussed in my latest article about the “Hormonal Response to Exercise” [(re-)read] and its interaction with your mood, effort & performance. The study is what I would call the seminal paper in this context and it shows that there are no clear-cut correlations between the acute testosterone response to workouts and the individual effects on size and strength.

    In other words, the guy whose testosterone “explodes” after a workout is not (systematically) gaining more size and strength than the guy whose testosterone levels hardly budge in the hours after the workout (chronically elevated/lowered levels do obviously count, see “Intermittent Thoughts” for details).

    Keep that in mind when you interpret the results of a recent study from the Sciences University of Jyväskylä and the National Defense University in Finnland (Taipale 2018). The researchers’ goal was to examine “the acute hormonal and muscular responses to a strenuous strength loading [bilateral leg press (LP) 10 × 10 1RM] followed by loading-specific active (AR, n = 7, LP 10 × 10 × 30% 1RM) or passive (PR, n = 11, seated) recovery” (Taipale 2018).

    Figure 2: Graphical illustration of the study design (Taipale 2018).

    To this ends, they recruited a group of young men (26 ± 4 years, height: 174 ± 8 cm, body mass: 75 ± 13 kg) who were assigned to either an active or a passive recovery group. Practically speaking, this meant that

    • the 7 subjects in the AR group performed light bilateral leg presses (10 sets of 10) at an intensity of 30% of their 1RM, while…
    • the 11 guys who ended up in the passive recovery (PR) group didn’t use any specific (exercise-based) recovery techniques.

    The authors’ analyses of the measurements they took pre- and post-loading as well as post-recovery and on the next morning shows a significantly higher absolute concentration (p < 0.05) of serum luteinizing hormone (LH) in AR compared to PR at the next morning.

    Figure 3: Effects of recovery modality on luteinizing hormone (left) and testosterone (right | Taipale 2018).

    Moreover, significant differences in relative hormonal responses to the loading were observed at next morning with greater responses observed in AR than in PR in terms of LH, and T (p < 0.05).

    The acutely more relevant and practically significant performance markers (maximal bilateral isometric force (MVC) and countermovement jump height (CMJ)), on the other hand,  decreased significantly (p < 0.001) from the control measurements in both AR and PR – without inter-group differences immediately post and/or on the next morning. No significant inter-group differences were also observed in serum testosterone (T), cortisol (C) or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).

    Implications: While the authors rightly point out that “[f]rom a hormonal perspective, the present AR method appears to have had some favorable effects following the strenuous strength loading” (Taipale et al.), we must not forget that the only definitely relevant recovery/adaptational effect that was assessed, i.e. the acute decreases in muscular force production did not significantly differ between groups. Future studies will have to expand on the long-term effects and whether the adaptational response is improved or impaired. Based on the acute post-workout response, alone, it’s unfortunately impossible to answer this important question.

Cardio After Weights! Doing Resistance Before Endurance Training Has More Beneficial Effects on Leptin, Cortisol, Testosterone and Body Composition in Young Men | more

What else should you know about PWO recovery aids? In contrast to the use (immediate) post-workout of (light) resistance training as a recovery booster, the effects of post-workout “cardio” has been investigated more thoroughly.

It would be beyond the scope of this research update to address the various (in parts conflicting) results of corresponding research. What I can do, however is to suggested you (re-)read the following articles: “Cardio before vs. after RT“, “HIIT PWO = reduced size gains“,  “Post RT cardio even impairs fat loss“, and to highlight that doing cardio is not per se bad for your gains “Cardio can also boost ‘ur gains!?” | What are your personal experiences w/ cardio and active recovery? Comment!

  • Barnett, Anthony. “Using recovery modalities between training sessions in elite athletes.” Sports medicine 36.9 (2006): 781-796.
  • Taipale, R.S., Kyröläinen, H., Gagnon, S.S. et al. Eur J Appl Physiol (2018) 118: 123. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3753-3
  • Wilson, Laura J., et al. “Recovery following a marathon: a comparison of cold water immersion, whole body cryotherapy, and a placebo control.” European journal of applied physiology (2017): 1-11.

Cold Water or Whole Body Cryotherapy Which (if any) Shall You Use? Active Recovery = ↑ Testosterone = ↑ Gainz? syndicated from


Herbal tea to relieve dry throat

Herbs in jarsBest herbs to soothe your throat


There are many herbs to relieve a dry throat.
This list of three favorite herbs to ease a dry throat is a place for beginners to begin. I have used each of these herbs at different times.

  1. Slippery Elm – (Ulmaus fulva) – slippery elm tea is made from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree.
  2. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – this is a fairly sweet tasting herb on its own. Licorice tea is made from the dried roots of the plant. In practice, I make my licorice tea from Traditional Medicinal tea bags.
  3. Ginger(Zingiber officinale) – in practice, I boil 2-3 small slices of fresh ginger in 2-3 cups of water for about 5 minutes, then put the resulting liquid into my cup.  Add a little honey to taste.  The combination of ginger and honey is very soothing to the throat.

jugglingNot all herbal teas are equal

Herbs are potent remedies when prepared and stored correctly.
First and foremost, the herbs must be free of any herbicides, pesticides, growth boosters, genetic modification, and other chemicals or modifications used for whatever reason humans come up with!

Organic matters

Local herbalists are often the best source for fresh, organic, and properly prepared herbs.
Ask around, meet your local herbalist. Confirm that they are using organic herbs. If possible, get your herbs from them.  If that is not possible, go to plan B – buy the best quality herbs available in a store.  I always look for Traditional Medicinals organic teas. I’ve been drinking their teas for years. They are easy to find and they work. Nothing could be simpler than making a hot cup of tea from a pre-made tea bag.


When I need a natural dry throat remedy, I make a cup of “Throat Coat” tea.  Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea combines licorice, slippery elm, and a few other herbs. If I am out of “Throat Coat”, I hope that I have a hunk of ginger that I can prepare!

In theory, I’d like to think that I would be mixing up all of my own herbs and creating healing teas. I’m working on that dream! In the meantime, I boil water and make herbal medicine using a tea bag.

Get Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea online.

How to get the most benefit from herbal tea bags:

For many herbs, the healing components are in the steam that rises off of the hot water.
To get the healing benefits of herbal teas you have to cover the pot or cup! Trap the steam, give it time to cool off and drop back into your tea.

5 Steps for healing tea:

  1. Boil the water
  2. Put the tea bag into your cup
  3. Pour the boiling water into your cup
  4. Cover the cup with a little plate for at least 5 minutes (don’t peek)
  5. When I really need the medicinal benefits, I leave the tag bag in, take a sip, and cover the cup again. I keep that lid on between sips in order to get the most out of my herbal tea.

A quick video showing you how to make a medicinal cup of herbal tea:

The post Herbal tea to relieve dry throat appeared first on Big Tree School of Natural Healing.

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Life Update: Kids

Let’s catch up with the kids today, shall we?

Jada is 4.5 years old, and Cole just turned 2. They are at the ages where they play well together…for the most part. They genuinely love each other. Cole literally runs to Jada when we pick her up from school, and Jada cannot wait to open Cole’s door when he wakes up from his nap.

They also battle a good amount of the time. Sometimes, I feel like I’m playing referee! I’m sure many of you can relate. But, it’s good for them. They need to work out their disagreements without me, so sometimes I just fade into the background.


Both of my kids love to eat. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t keep our fridge or cupboards stocked. Another reason I’m so thankful for the nutrition our family uses.

They both start their days with a nutrient dense shake full of grass fed whey protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and probiotics.

They truly love them, and it gives me a moment to prep some oatmeal or cereal and fruit to follow up. We change up the flavors frequently, and BOTH enjoy helping us make them.

They frequently eat staples like Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles, Amy’s Organic veggie bowls, chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, salami on crackers, yogurt, and chicken noodle soup. During the week, I often make sandwiches for lunch with carrots and apples for sides. I let the kids eat in the stroller after I pick up Jada from school.

Here are some common snacks:

They also love treats! We keep them to smaller amounts, because of course they would eat ALL THE SUGAR if they could. Am I right?


You all can probably gather, I’m routine oriented and value organization. While I function best in a neat environment, it’s more necessity than anything else. I’m often solo parenting, so I need to be on my A game.

Cole and Jada are fairly consistent sleepers. Not perfect, but no huge complaints. Both wake around 6:30–probably a bit earlier, but that’s when I acknowledge them. He he!

Cole naps at 1 p.m. for a couple of hours, and Jada recently dropped hers, so now I need to help her stay busy and learn to play independently.

We eat dinner really early. I mean, sometimes it’s 4:30 when I’m plating food. Tired, hungry kids are not cool with me, so early dinner it is. We don’t eat dinner as a family nearly as often in the winter and spring because Spencer tends to be traveling or gets home really late from baseball practice.

Bath time is around 6 or so to give me buffer and really let the kiddos wind down. Then, it’s jammies and books (they both enjoy books), with lights out 7 (7:30 at the latest).

Jada is usually smoked at this point, but Cole occasionally needs a bit more coaxing because he had a nap.


They both really love playing with their kitchen, LEGOS, Thomas the Train set, and Paw Patrol. Often, they can do these fairly well together.

Jada loves, LOVES to draw and color. She’s pretty darn good at it too, if you allow me to boast a bit! She also looks forward to gymnastics. She only goes once a week for 45 minutes, but wants to do more. Showing off those muscles below!

Cole loves trying to keep up with Jada, of course.

When she’s at school, I see him do his own thing which is usually being more destructive! He got a vacuum for his birthday, and he likes to “help mommy” when I’m cleaning. We vacuum a lot around here with Cooper.


Both kiddos are pretty happy by nature (thank goodness), but they definitely express their opinions about things they are not too fond of.


getting her hair brushed

changing out of pajamas (I can’t blame her)

sticky/dirty hands

Cole sitting too close to her during TV shows


getting his nose wiped

wearing a hat

being told “no” (which is often)

sitting still


We have two healthy, energetic, engaged kids.

There are some days, they are downright exhausting, but we are truly blessed. We never take their health for granted.

I love that they are so joyful when they see mom and dad. I know it won’t be like that always. They like to “work out with mommy.” While a solo sweat sesh is so refreshing, my kids voluntarily joining me for burpees or push-ups puts the biggest smile on my face! Cuddling with them before bed and reading stories is one of my favorite parts of the day (now that Cole sits still to listen to books).

They both love Cooper and show a huge heart for animals which is very important to me. Someday, I’d like us all to volunteer together at the animal shelter, so they understand why we have to help.

Taking them to baseball games to see Spencer is also one of our very favorite things to do in the Spring. I hope the appreciate how hard he works and how lucky they are.

Do you have kids? If so, would you share a bit about them (ages, likes, dislikes, favorite activities)?

The post Life Update: Kids appeared first on Blonde Ponytail.

Life Update: Kids syndicated from

Vitamins A, C, E + Glycine, Leucine, and Taurine: 6 Common Vitamins + Amino Acids to Help W/ Muscle + Tendon Injury

You may, in fact, already take these.

In a recent systematic review, Christopher Tack et al. have recently analyzed “The Physiological Mechanisms of Effect of Vitamins and Amino Acids on Tendon and Muscle Healing” (Tack 2017). In the corresponding paper in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, the scientist from the University of Hertfordshire, list six amino acids and vitamins (and their respective combinations) as potential tools to accelerate, help, and support soft tissue, specifically muscle and tendon healing.

You can learn more about taurine & other amino acids at the SuppVersity

Taurine Strength & Recovery?!

Taurine or Caffeine?

Taurine ➲ +180% Testosterone

Taurine + BCAA Good Combo?

Taurine Boosts Good Gut Bugs

Taurine for Glycogen

The scientists came up with this list by digging through the standard databases, i.e. BSCO, PUBMED, Science Direct, Embase Classic/ Embase, and MEDLINE looking for terms including “vitamins”, “amino acids”, “healing”, “muscle” and “tendon”. If you’ve used these databases, you will not be surprised that the scientists’ initial search yielded 479 citations. “Luckily”, 466 of these could be removed after a cursory look at the methodology section and identifying those studies with non-randomised design.

This process left the authors with relevant randomised human and animal studies investigating all supplement types/ forms of administration. A list of papers, the scientists further processed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and/or the Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation (SYRCLE) risk of bias tool for human and animal studies, respectively.

Eventually, twelve studies met criteria for inclusion: 8 examined tendon healing, 4 examined muscle healing. All studies used animal models, except 2 human trials using a combined integrator (=combination supplement).

A narrative synthesis was performed via content analysis of demonstrated statistically significant effects, and thematic analysis of proposed physiological mechanisms of intervention. And here’s the gist:

  • Vitamin C + taurine demonstrated indirect effects on tendon healing through anti-oxidant activity. 
  • Vitamin A + glycine showed direct effects on extra-cellular matrix tissue synthesis. 
  • Vitamin E shows an anti-proliferative influence on collagen deposition. 
  • Leucine directly influences signaling pathways to promote muscle protein synthesis.

Remember vitamin C + collagen from “100% Increase in Exercise-Induced Collagen Synthesis With Cheap, Yet Effective 15g Gelatin + 200mg Vitamin C Stack” (read it)?

BPC is not patentable, and thus not interesting for BigPharma.

Where’s BPC “BPC-157, the Orally Available Peptide That Repairs Tendon, Muscle, Intestines, Teeth, Bone and More in Vitro & Vivo” (learn more) — Well, as a peptide, technically, it’s not a vitamin or amino acid and while that’s probably the reason it did not end up on the review at hand, I simply didn’t include extra-information in this article because the one I wrote in 2016 is based on what still is the state of the art research. If you want to learn about the latter, go back to my 2016 article!

If the former applies to you, you obviously are a seasoned SuppVersity veteran, which is why it’s unlikely that you’ll be surprised to see any of these six vitamins/aminos on the list.

Table 1: Overview of effects of vitamin/amino acid supplements on tendon and muscle (Tack 2017).

With distinct mechanisms, possible stacks could/should contain all four previously mentioned pairs, as their effects can be – as the overview in Table 1 shows – synergistic; with the most potent stack being a combination of glycine, vitamin C, and taurine and extra leucine for muscular health.

Take Control of Your Cortisol Levels – 5x Stress-Modulating Diet, Lifestyle & Supplementation Rules | more

So how much do I take? Well, unfortunately, this question is one that neither the individual studies nor the review will answer to your satisfaction. For vitamin C + taurine injections of 50-150mg and 200mg have shown promise when they were injected right after (vitamin C + taurine) the injury and chronically (every other day) over the course of ca. 1 month (vitamin C).  The previously referenced study on vitamin C + collagen, on the other hand, would suggest that the daily ingestion of as little as 50mg/d should do the trick, as well. For glycine + leucine high dose oral supplements have shown beneficial effects – dosages ranged from 5% of the diet (in humans that would be ~25g/d) for glycine to 15-25g/day for leucine consumed for 7-21 days.

What shouldn’t be forgotten, in that, is that whey protein at dosages providing only 2-5g/d of leucine has also been shown to augment not just the adaptation of your muscles, but also your tendons in response to resistance training (Farup 2014, for example).

One theme that emerges quite consistently, by the way, is the involvement of thyroid hormones in collagen synthesis (read up on tendon & thyroid health in Oliva 2013): if you want optimal tendon health, you should thus get your labs checked regularly (including fT3 and fT4, to see where you stand conversion-wise | learn more) | Comment!


  • Farup, Jean, et al. “Whey protein hydrolysate augments tendon and muscle hypertrophy independent of resistance exercise contraction mode.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 24.5 (2014): 788-798.
  • Oliva, Francesco, et al. “Thyroid hormones and tendon: current views and future perspectives. Concise review.” Muscles, ligaments and tendons journal 3.3 (2013): 201.
  • Russell, Jean E., and Paul R. Manske. “Ascorbic acid requirement for optimal flexor tendon repair in vitro.” Journal of orthopaedic research 9.5 (1991): 714-719.
  • Tack, Christopher, Faye Shorthouse, and Lindsy Kass. “The Physiological Mechanisms of Effect of Vitamins and Amino Acids on Tendon and Muscle Healing: A Systematic Review.” International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism (2017): 1-44.

Vitamins A, C, E + Glycine, Leucine, and Taurine: 6 Common Vitamins + Amino Acids to Help W/ Muscle + Tendon Injury syndicated from

Meridian Massage Book Review

Mark Vrooland is a Shiatsu Practitioner in Rotterdam. He has a wonderful blog, “Happy Hara.” – I am honored that he reviewed my book, Meridian Massage, Opening Pathways to Vitality. Below is the interview, copied by permission:

Cindy Black, author or Meridian Massage: “Find your own unique expression of Qi”

Cindy Black, a US-based writer and teacher, provides online classes in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  for Massage Therapists. Her book ‘Meridian Massage, Opening Pathways to Vitality’ is popular among TCM-newcomers but is also valuable for seasoned practitioners. “It’s not shiatsu, it’s not Thai massage, it’s not acupressure. That has been my challenge: describing what it is, instead of what it’s not. “

When I spoke Cindy she was in sunny Florida.  She moves with the warmth of the seasons. In the summer she moves back to Ithaca,  New York, which is close to the border of Canada. Cindy is the founder of the Big Tree School of Natural Healing, a Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist and the writer of the book ‘Meridian Massage’, which is the reason we are on the phone right now.

Meridian Massage Book


“I did practice acupuncture for a little while, but I am just better at using my hands. So I pursued more education after I completed my Master’s degree in Chinese medicine. I really wanted to feel the heart and soul of it. I found a teacher in Canada, Khadro. She taught me a form of abdominal massage, Chi Nei Tsang. With her help, I could integrate all the knowledge I had been gaining over the previous years. This really opened up a whole ocean of possibility for me.”

“We have the same opportunity to observe as the ancients did. There is still the earth, the sky, wind, trees, grass, all of that…”

Straight to the Qi

“In shiatsu and acupuncture, we always try to diagnose and evaluate what’s going on with the organs and use acupuncture points to balance these organs. What I learned from Khadro is that you can go straight to the abdominal organs. Straight to the Qi. I was really taken by that. I began combining abdominal massage with hands-on contact to the meridians and acupuncture points. I  used it on my clients with great success, and then started teaching it to other Massage Therapists.”


“My shiatsu training was pretty formal. Shiatsu has a whole theory and a method. It’s a wonderful method, but I am not good at following rules. I was taught that you always give shiatsu on the floor, not on a massage table. I found out, that if I let that rule go I, I could integrate points and meridians into my regular massage therapy work on the table. This became my practice of meridian massage.”

Mindful contact

“Meridian massage is more of an approach than a specific method of massage. I am teaching the theory of Chinese Medicine to people who are already hands-on practitioners, like sport massage therapists. I help them to add this approach to their incredible skill of mindful contact. They combine it with what they already know.”

“My intention is to support people to return to their own Qi”


“The reason why I called it meridian massage is because I wanted it to be general. I am not teaching a technique. I teach the theory. Daoism is the philosophical and spiritual basis of TCM. From the Dao, it is said that we all have to find our own expression of life. We all find our own way. To me, that’s how I am teaching. I offer the theory and I encourage others to find their own unique expression how they apply it.”

Online classes

A few years ago Cindy also started to give online TCM-classes. “I began teaching this in person. People asked me to put it online. At first, I thought it is not possible to do this, but then I decided to do it as best as I could. I have found that I can teach the theory very well this way. It was a surprise to me too!”


“Now I offer a 3-month intensive online course.  From January to April we walk through all the courses. From yin-yang, five elements, organ systems and 60 acupuncture points. The people are working on their own, but once a week we have a live-meeting to review the material and take it deeper.”

What is the biggest challenge of our time where TCM can help?

“TCM helps to keep the Qi abundant and flowing. Because that’s the bases of health. It a very simple premise, but consistently maintaining that is a huge challenge. Because people, in general, are overworking and there’s all this external distraction. As that happens, as we get drawn away from ourselves. We lose our connection to Qi, to our own life force. My intention is to support people to return to their own Qi.”

Do you have any tips to reconnect with your own Qi?

“Take a little time each day to be in a quiet place by yourself. And feel your breath going in and out. Another translation for Qi is breath. So we understand directly from Qi by feeling our breath. It helps you to rebalance your system.”


Another exercise is to get in back in contract with the earth. Just stand. Be very conscious about standing on the earth. With your feet firm on the ground. Head to the sky. Just feeling your breath and wondering in the same way that the ancients did – before all of this knowledge, technology and information we have coming at us today. Just wonder about the earth, the sky and our place here. TCM was discovered by observation. We have the same opportunity to observe as the ancients did. There is still the earth, the sky, wind, trees, grass, all of that…”

Visit Mark Vrooland at the Happy Hara Blog

The post Meridian Massage Book Review appeared first on Big Tree School of Natural Healing.

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Nutrient/Meal Timing: A Dozen Examples of Its Purported Impact on ‘Ur Health, Weight Management & Body Comp.

Everyone will know somebody who managed to build an impressive physique with meal-timing. The question you cannot answer, however, is whether that’s due to the timing or rather his/her mindful eating habits, healthy food choices and overall controlled energy intake.

Originally, people thought about dieting quite mechanistically. With health and fitness becoming more important than religion to a many people this has changed significantly and we’ve seen various trends ranging from the low-fat fad in the 1980s to the anti-fructose movement of the early 2000s and the ketogenic revival 10 years later. Eventually, the transient nature of all these trends did yet confirm one thing: the macronutrient of your diets may influence if and how much fat/muscle weight you lose or gain, but it’s only one out of several parameters that determine the way(s) in which your diet will affect your health and body composition.

Another factor that has been recognized to do just that is nutrient timing, i.e. the ingestion of food or specific foods and nutrients at specific, purportedly “optimal” time-points. In the fat-o-phobic 1980s, the mantra was: eat small quantities of low GI high carb foods every 2h. The result was a snacking culture that has probably contributed to the exponential rise of obesity rates over the past decade.

Learn more about skipping meals at the SuppVersity

Start Havin’ Br-eakfast, Get Fat

“Lean Gains” Fast Works

Fasting Better W/ 1 or 3 Meals?

Breakfast Habits Matter

IF + Resistance Training = WIN

ADF Beats Ca-lorie Restriction

I’ve written about the problems that are associated w/ eating 24/7 in previous articles (e.g. “Many Small Meals Suck! Especially For Diabetics“, “Are Six Meals Better Than Two?” or “Prevent Body Fat Gain by Eating Most of Your Calories Early in the Day“)  – just as I’ve addressed the potential benefits of the frequent ingestion of high protein meals as it is also suggested in the ISSN’s position stand on nutrient timing (read it). With 2018 being only a few days away, I decided to use the holidays to take another look at the potentially relevant new evidence on meal/nutrient timing which is (and always has been) one of the five most frequent topics of e-mail and Facebook questions I get.

Next, to the previously referenced ISSN position stand, a cursory review of previous research overviews produces, among other results, the following insights:

  • meal timing (MT) may inhibit the growth of cancer (vs. ad-libitum intake | Li 2010) – most likely by reinforcement of the host circadian timing system with MT induced 24-hour rhythmic expression of critical genes in clock-deficient tumors, which translated into cancer growth inhibition
  • Figure 1: A conceptual model of the mammalian circadian system. A circadian pacemaker located in the retinorecipient suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus generates circadian rest-activity, feeding, body temperature and other rhythms that entrain to environmental light-dark (LD) cycles. The daily feeding rhythm provides time cues that entrain circadian oscillators elsewhere in the brain and in most peripheral organs and tissues | Patton 2013 and Vetter 2017
  • meal timing (MT) influences and, ideally, synchronizes the central and peripheral clocks of your body to ensure optimal endocrine, metabolic and immune function by making sure that corticosterone, ghrelin, leptin, insulin, glucagon, and glucagon-like peptide 1 are released/metabolized at optimal intervals 
  • Table 1: Summary of human studies of eating frequency (Kaczmarek 2017b)

    the evidence that (intermittent) fasting (for 16h+) can have profound health benefits has been accumulating over the years (Mattson 2014; Patterson 2015) – the mechanisms involve a metabolic shift to fat metabolism and ketone production and stimulation of adaptive cellular stress responses that prevent and repair molecular damage

  • the notion that “one size/timing fits them all” is flawed for having/skipping breakfast and meal frequency, in general – more specifically, previously discussed studies by Thomas et al. (read up on it) and LeCheminant et al. (read up on it) suggest that you better stick to what has been working for you in the past instead of forcing or depriving yourself of breakfast all of a sudden
  • the observed benefits and detrimental effects of increased meal frequency, eating a large dinner, eating before bed, etc. have been shown to be mediated (at least partly) by their impact on people’s total daily energy intakes — in multivariate analyses controlling for age, sex, sleep duration, and timing, eating more frequently, later timing of the last meal, and a shorter duration between last meal and sleep onset predicted higher total caloric intake (Reid 2014); other confounding factors are results of the still prevalent advice not to skip breakfast or to eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper or rather the fact that people who live a health-conscious life and eat healthy diets tend to adhere to this recommendation (Leech 2015).
    Figure 2: During weight loss, consuming most energy in the AM does not improve weight loss, insulin sensitivity and reduces hepatic fat content more than consuming most energy in the PM (Versteeg 2017).

    In experimental studies where a potential influence on energy intake is effectively precluded by standardizing the subjects food intake (energy deficit as it was the case in Versteeg 2017), food timing does, as you’d expect it, not affect weight loss and or its health benefits (in Versteeg 2017 on the liver).

  • while there is quite a number of studies, the study quality is generally low – with small sample sizes, short-term interventions, a lack of clear-cut definition of “an eating occasion” and a severe lack of several key outcomes such as physical activity, adherence to assigned EF, and hunger (Palmer 2009)

Unfortunately, the last-mentioned lack of long-term tightly controlled experimental data from human studies is still an if not the main problem when we’re talking about the effects of meal timing. That doesn’t mean, though that more recent studies (published between Jan 2017 and Dec 2017) wouldn’t have anything to bring to the table, such as…

  • the “carbohydrate-last”-principle which was posited by Shukla et al. (2017) based on the observation that a “carbohydrate-last meal pattern lowers postprandial glucose and insulin excursions in type 2 diabetes” (Shukla 2017) — in fact, the scientists’ data showed significant reductions in the incremental areas under the curve for glucose (iAUC0-180) and incremental glucose peaks of 53% and 54%, respectively, when carbohydrate was consumed last compared with carbohydrate consumed first and by 44% and 40%, respectively, compared with the all components together condition
    Figure 3: Changes in incremental areas under the curves (iAUCs) (0–180 min) in healthy subjects after consuming carbohydrate first, followed 10 min later by protein and vegetables versus protein and vegetables first, followed 10 min later by carbohydrate, expressed relative to control meal where all components were served together in form of a sandwich (Shukla 2017).

    In that, it may be worth pointing out that, compared to protein preloads, “the carbohydrate-last meal pattern lead to lower glycemic and insulin excursions but higher glucagon-like peptide-1 response” (Shukla 2017) – in other words, improved blood sugar control, reduced levels of insulin and higher levels of the satiety hormone GLP-1 were observed with the “carbohydrate-last” pattern.

  • Figure 4: Circadian Align- vs. Misalignment (Poggiogalle 2017).

    novel insights into the way(s) the circadian system regulates glucose, lipid, and energy metabolism suggest it’s all about healthy habits – insights of which a recent says that the patterns peak in the biological morning or early afternoon, implicating earlier in the daytime as optimal for food intake” (Poggiogalle 2017).

    As the overview in Figure 4 illustrates, controlled light exposure, healthy sleep habits and timed eating may help avoid or at least ameliorate health problems related to circadian misalignment.

  • the fat difference between consuming almonds as a snack vs. preload that was observed only recently in healthy, young Korean adults between 20-39 – while all followed the same high-carb diets (isocaloric) all subjects were instructed to consume 56 g of almonds per day, one group did that as a preload before meals, while the other snacked between meals; with profound differences in health-relevant outcomes over the 16 week study period: “Almond consumption as a preload modified body fat percentages, whereas snacking on almonds between meals improved blood lipid profiles” (Liu 2017).
  • further evidence that our tolerance to carbohydrates, even low GI carbohydrates, detoriorates from AM to PM (Leung 2017)- more specifically, when healthy test subjects consume a low GI meal (3.3 MJ, 48% energy (E) from carbohydrate, 40%E from fat and 11%E from protein, 22 g fiber) at 0800h, 2000h and 0000h (midnight), they will display higher postprandial glucose iAUC over 3h after the meal both, in the evening and at midnight (p = 0.008, p = 0.021 | no significant difference between evening and midnight (p = 0.594) was observed); similar observations were made for the postprandial insulin iAUC which was also higher in the evening and at midnight compared to the morning (p = 0.008 for both).
  • evidence that our microbiome has its own biological clock comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Kaczmarek 2017a) – if we are honest, we do, however, not really know if that’s even relevant and what we could do with these new insights
Meal Timing Crucial for Fat Loss? Is WHEN You Eat More Important for Losing Weight Than HOW MUCH You Eat? | Learn more about a study that seems to suggest just that!

The verdict is still out there: Even with the more recent research and reviews like Beccuti, et al. (2017) that conclude “that eating time is relevant for obesity and metabolism”, the hard evidence that the purported benefits of meal timing are not ultimately only results of changes in total energy intake is – in my humble opinion – not yet convincing. With that being said, though, we cannot ignore that (irrespective of the mechanism) “observational and experimental studies found an association between meal timing, weight gain, hyperglycemia and diabetes mellitus with benefits deriving from an early intake of food in the day in a wide range of individuals” (Beccuti 2017) – that may be the result of changes in ad-libitum food intake, but would still favor advising average Joes to eat early, btw.

Something similar can be said about what I consider one of the most important research contributions of the last year: the “carbohydrate-last”-principle and the previously largely ignored metabolic effects of a principle that you could file under “intra-meal-nutrient-timing”. In contrast to “inter-meal-nutrient-timing”, which failed to produce really relevant results, that’s an area of research of which I believe that it will reappear on my and thus your radar in 2018 | Comment!


  • Beccuti, G. et al. “Timing of food intake: Sounding the alarm about metabolic impairments? A systematic review.” Pharmacological research (2017).
  • Dhurandhar, Emily J., et al. “The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 100.2 (2014): 507-513.
  • Li, Xiao-Mei, et al. “Cancer inhibition through circadian reprogramming of tumor transcriptome with meal timing.” Cancer Research 70.8 (2010): 3351-3360.
  • Mattson, Mark P., et al. “Meal frequency and timing in health and disease.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.47 (2014): 16647-16653.
  • Kaczmarek, Jennifer L., Salma MA Musaad, and Hannah D. Holscher. “Time of day and eating behaviors are associated with the composition and function of the human gastrointestinal microbiota.” The American journal of clinical nutrition (2017a): ajcn156380.
  • Kaczmarek, Jennifer L., Sharon V. Thompson, and Hannah D. Holscher. “Complex interactions of circadian rhythms, eating behaviors, and the gastrointestinal microbiota and their potential impact on health.” Nutrition reviews 75.9 (2017b): 673-682.
  • Leech, Rebecca M., et al. “Understanding meal patterns: definitions, methodology, and impact on nutrient intake and diet quality.” Nutrition research reviews 28.1 (2015): 1-21.
  • Leung, Gloria KW, Catherine E. Huggins, and Maxine P. Bonham. “Effect of meal timing on postprandial glucose responses to a low glycemic index meal: A crossover trial in healthy volunteers.” Clinical Nutrition (2017).
  • Liu, Yanan, et al. “The effects of daily intake timing of almond on the body composition and blood lipid profile of healthy adults.” Nutrition research and practice 11.6 (2017): 479-486.
  • Patton, Danica F., and Ralph E. Mistlberger. “Circadian adaptations to meal timing: neuroendocrine mechanisms.” Frontiers in neuroscience 7 (2013).
  • Patterson, Ruth E., et al. “Intermittent fasting and human metabolic health.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115.8 (2015): 1203.
  • Poggiogalle, Eleonora, Humaira Jamshed, and Courtney M. Peterson. “Circadian Regulation of Glucose, Lipid, and Energy Metabolism in Humans.” Metabolism (2017).
  • Reid, Kathryn J., Kelly G. Baron, and Phyllis C. Zee. “Meal timing influences daily caloric intake in healthy adults.” Nutrition Research 34.11 (2014): 930-935.
  • Shukla, Alpana P., et al. “Carbohydrate-last meal pattern lowers postprandial glucose and insulin excursions in type 2 diabetes.” BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care 5.1 (2017): e000440.
  • Thomas, E. A., Higgins, J., Bessesen, D. H., McNair, B. and Cornier, M.-A. (2015), Usual breakfast eating habits affect response to breakfast skipping in overweight women. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.21049
  • Vetter, Celine, and Frank AJL Scheer. “Circadian Biology: Uncoupling Human Body Clocks by Food Timing.” Current Biology 27.13 (2017): R656-R658.

Nutrient/Meal Timing: A Dozen Examples of Its Purported Impact on ‘Ur Health, Weight Management & Body Comp. syndicated from

Kidney Acupressure points on the ankle

4 Kidney points on the ankle

These four Kidney acupressure points are close together on the inner (medial) ankle.

Each point can be used for local ankle pain, additionally, each point has specific uses. Let’s explore both the location and uses of each of these Kidney acupressure points.

Kidney 3 Acupressure PointKidney 3

On the medial (inside) surface of the ankle.
Level with the high point of the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone), half the distance to the Achilles Tendon.

To nourish the Kidney Organ System, to consolidate the Life Force.

Kidney 4 Acupressure PointKidney 4

On the medial (inside) surface of the ankle.
On the front edge of the Achilles Tendon, just below Kidney 3

To ease the emotion associated with the Kidney Organ System (fear).

Kidney 5 Acupressure PointKidney 5

On the medial (inside) surface of the ankle.
One cun below Kidney 3

Support harmonious menstruation

Kidney 6 Acupressure PointKidney 6

On the medial (inside) surface of the ankle.
One cun below the high point of the medial malleolous

To bolster Kidney Yin

How much pressure to use on these Kidney acupressure points

The Kidney is a Yin Organ, so the Kidney meridian is also Yin in nature. When working with Yin acupressure points, use the following guidelines:

1. Make light contact with the point
2. Slowly increase the pressure while maintaining a soft, quiet energetic field within yourself.
3. Sink your attention and Qi into the point
4. Pay attention to the way your client responds. Adjust based on the response. If there is pain lighten up. If there is no sensation, increase pressure.
5. Explore, wonder, allow your intuition and observation of your client to guide you.

Want to go deeper?

Click here for more learning options Kidney acupressure points 3, 4, 5, 6

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