According to Chinese Medicine, Jing is the vital essence that each of us is born with.
The quality of this precious substance, inherited from our parents, determines our health, vitality and longevity. We are born with a finite amount of Jing, which can’t be added to, only preserved.  Jing is also easily depleted.

As we age, our Jing gets used up and how fast this happens depends on the kind of life we lead – chronic stress, illness, poor nutritional habits, environmental toxins and emotional imbalances like anxiety and depression are some of the factors that deplete our Jing.

The Jing Savings and Loan
Jing is also called “original Chi or pre-natal Chi” and this life force within us is so precious, it is considered one of the three treasures according to Chinese Medicine.

Think of Jing, as gold bullion that you are keeping in a special account at your bank. At the same bank you also have a second account, which is called your post–natal qi account. Your post-natal qi account is the one that you are depositing into and withdrawing from to supply your energy and vitality for your activities of daily living.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables, exercising daily, getting enough sleep and feeling supported by others – all of these lifestyle choices benefit our post – natal qi . The post-natal qi then gets transferred into nutrients that help nourish our body and boost our immunity. Keeping a robust and plentiful post-natal qi account is an absolute necessity for optimal health. Our post-natal qi account acts as a buffer, protecting our precious Jing or the gold bullion. Unfortunately not everyone adds to their post-natal qi account. In fact, some of us drain it completely and then begin withdrawing from our Jing account. But what happens to us if we spend all of the gold bullion?

Jing Bankruptcy…..or Jing Jackpot?

Who do you know who isn’t stressed, overworked and or in need of a vacation? We seem to live in a world of overload, overwhelm and over-worry. On any given day, we may not be showing any symptoms of illness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our habits are cultivating good health. The price we pay from poor lifestyle choices is that we deplete our Jing. Remember, our Jing is finite and when it is gone so is our energy, our health and eventually, our life.

How would your life change if you were to start adding to health and wellness account instead of constantly withdrawing from it? What if tonight you went to bed at 10pm instead of 1am? How much better would you feel? What if you had a balanced meal for breakfast instead of reaching for a cup of coffee? How would you like a boost of energy from a 30 minute walk instead of feeling sluggish and tired?

By virtue of being alive, we deplete our Jing, but we don’t have to speed up the process unnecessarily. We can all do a little bit better with our health choices. A tweek here and there in a positive way can do wonders towards improving our physical and emotional well-being and conserving our Jing.

Save your Jing for a rainy day by striving for balance and harmony through a healthy lifestyle. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to jump-start your efforts. Regular acupuncture treatments may not restore your Jing directly but it can help you relieve stress, give your body a much needed immunity boost and help prevent illness from taking a foothold – all factors that can deplete your Jing. If you’ve ever experienced acupuncture then you know there is nothing like it for unblocking stagnant energy, restoring well-being and revitalizing your system.

This year, commit to your health by resolving to nurture your Jing – the essence of true wellness, vitality and longevity.

To your best health,
Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M

Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling   
130 Greenfield Avenue, Suite 2, San Anselmo, California 94933   415.306.1853





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By guest blogger, Bronwyn Smith

I’m not a Vegan.  I’m more of a “Vegan-Wannabe”.  I still eat a little fish, some eggs and dairy, but not nearly as much as I used to.  I like the idea of being Vegan because “no animals were harmed in the making of this meal,” and I think the human body fares better when not “polluted” with animal products.  Mine certainly has.

Over the past year I’ve watched many health documentaries such as, “Forks over Knives,” and “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” detailing the adverse effects of animal products on the human body as well as the economic toll of chronic disease to the country.  Because of this, I’ve started to take an avid interest in what I’m putting into my body.  I’ve stopped eating most processed foods, refined sugars, wheat/gluten and started eating more natural and some raw foods.  But I’m not perfect.

After cutting down on dairy I started noticing how it made my body feel when I did eat it. About a month ago I ate a huge chunk of Triple Cream Brie, and for two days it felt as though my chest was congested and that I needed Roto-Rooter to come and unclog me.  I missed that “clean” feeling inside of me that I had grown accustomed to.  After that Brie incident, I am now fully aware of how my body is negatively affected by dairy products.

As I began cutting down on dairy I was surprised to see that not only was I feeling lighter healthier, and more energetic, but my cellulite (that “cottage cheese” look behind your thighs) had also diminished.

Years ago I had heard that to eliminate cellulite one should stop eating “white,” which usually means white flour, white breads, sugar etc..  But now that I have reduced dairy from my diet I’ve also seen a reduction in the cellulite on my legs and buttocks .  Recently I put on a pair of shorts, and I looked better from the back than I have in years, which was a pleasant surprise!

Today, in addition to cutting down on dairy and other animal products, I’m eating more raw foods, drinking fresh juices, enjoying green smoothies and making homemade almond milk in my Vitamix blender.  It amazes me that eating this way makes me feel like a teenager, which is funny considering I’m 46 years old.

So, if you have unwanted and unwelcome cellulite, consider becoming a “Vegan-wannabe” like me.  If nothing else, you will most likely feel better, look healthier, and have more energy.  Feeling healthy, not harming animals, and less cellulite? – Good reasons to Vegan!

Bronwyn Smith is a Vegan-Wannabe, commercial actress, print model and gluten-free lifestyle coach.  Her passion lies in helping people adapt, shop and enjoy a gluten free life. (

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“I’ve tried everything and I just can’t seem to lose the #^$@* weight!”  – Sound familiar?  Well, it’s a common complaint I hear from my patients and usually accompanied by frustration, dismay and even resignation.

Having helped many patients lose weight in my Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling Practice, made it ironic that at age 51 I was now carrying an extra 10 pounds.  When I finally got around to addressing the weight issue, I found that it did not want to let go of me as much as I wanted to let go of it.  In time, 10 pounds had turned into 14.  So on October 3rd, 2012, I substituted my own frustration with determination and  decided that regardless of the upcoming holidays, I would lose those 14 pounds by Christmas.  And here are some of the things that I did.


7 Tips to Kissing the Pounds Goodbye!

 1. Eat Plant Based and Low Glycemic -This combo is not only great for weight loss but for longevity too!  With a plant-based diet, instead of feeling as though you’re depriving yourself, the opposite becomes true as your world opens up to many more choices of healthy and delicious foods. Humans tend to get into repetitive patterns of eating, which can often lead to allergies.  A plant based diet, filled with tasty fruits and veges, beans, nuts and seeds – nature’s nutritional powerhouses and our best sources energy – gave me even more stamina, strength and endurance while I lost weight.  Low Glycemic eating keeps your blood sugar balanced and gave my brain more clarity and my body more sustained energy throughout the day.  

2. “Exercise more, Eat Less! - Became my mantra for three months.  Before a meal, during a meal, in my office, taking a bath, in bed – I kept saying this over and over to myself until it became a habit.  I have always resisted counting calories but this time I found that having a rough overall sense of how many calories I was consuming went a long way to help me achieve the weight loss I wanted.  I stayed between 1200-1500 calories, spread throughout the day in small meals.  If you fill up with the foods your body needs then there isn’t a lot of room left for unhealhy foods that will ultimately deplete your energy and eventually wear out your body.

Walking 10,000 steps per day is what is minimally recommended for someone 50-60 years of age.  More steps if you are younger.  A pedometer comes in handy to know how much you actually walk in a day.  Additionally, I added cardio daily for 30 minutes as well as weight training every other day. It may seem like a lot at first, but I was determined to lose the weight and knew that when I reached my goal, I could cut back on the exercise.

3. The Breakfast- fast -  If you have any issues with your blood sugar, are a diabetic or have hypoglycemia, I WOULD NOT suggest this step.  But if not, and you have some pounds to lose, you may consider skipping breakfast before you workout.  New Information shows that if we limit eating to an eight hour period, it’s not only good for our waistline but for our overall health as well.  Historically our ancestors didn’t have access to food 24/7 like we do now so it would make sense that our bodies do better not only eating less, but eating within a certain time period. I would typically eat at 10:30am and finish by 6:30pm.  If I got hungry at night, I would drink a big hot mug of ginger, chamomile or other herbal teas to fill me up.

4. Variety, Variety, Variety - The human body gets used to a physical workout.  So although I hiked daily with my dogs, my body was now used to it and I needed something more to move me out of this plateau.  Interval training – getting a work out in 30 minutes – 10 minute warm up and 10 minute warm down then 20 minutes of interval short bursts of exercise- worked great for my busy schedule and also my waist line.  Hiking, biking, yoga and resistance training also gave me variety and kept me from getting bored.

5. Boost Your Energy Before a Workout A little dash of medicinal caffeine can really help with endurance during your workout.  I have never been a coffee drinker and I wouldn’t encourage coffee intake but a little green tea or some REV 3, a low-glycemic energy drink with ginseng, really got me moving and motivated!  Barley grass juice is also an amazing energy boost and additionally is great for the immune system and gives you softer more youthful skin.

6. Develop Patience - I’m not naturally patient so I had to develop some patience along the way if I wanted to succeed.  We all say how fast time is moving, so I told myself that three months would fly by and that letting go of some of my favorite foods wasn’t going to be forever.  The truth is that after a month I didn’t miss any of the foods that I thought I would, and the three months arrived in no time!

7. Acknowledge & Reward Yourself When find your clothes feeling looser, your abs getting tighter, and your body becoming stronger, give yourself a big pat on the back or do what I do and jump around your bedroom in total joy.  Acknowledging your efforts will help keep you motivated and on target.  And don’t forget to give yourself a reward when you finally reach your goal.  Something that is meaningful to you.  I love movies and decided it was time to join the 21st century, so my reward was to purchase a big screen tv. so I can watch my favorite movies as I exercise!

Fourteen Pounds Later 

On Christmas day, I stepped on the scale and found myself one pound away from my goal.  After the build up, one might consider this a failure but I certainly didn’t.  At a size 4, and 4 inches less than when I began, I felt like a new woman. Besides the weight loss and a slimmer and stronger frame, perhaps an even greater and unexpected lesson was what I learned about the power of focus and commitment.  During this time, weight loss became my number one priority and every morning, as soon as I would open my eyes, I would re-commit to my goal.  Eventually, my commitment became habit and habit became success.  Commitment, focus and determination are now tools that I am consciously applying towards my next big goal – writing a book.

Oh and one week later….I lost that last pound!

I’d love to hear your secrets to your healthy weight loss!  So please do share them!

To your optimal health and happiness,



Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac, Dipl. O.M., M.T.O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling   415.306.1853





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This is my step-daughter, Gina in front of the ancient ruins of Machu Pichu.  The joy on her face reminds me of a similar time in my life when I travelled a good part of the world on my own.

Great health and well-being isn’t just about feeding the body, it’s also about nourishing the soul and that is exactly what my solo travels did for me.

From Adios to Bon Jour!  When I was 20, I studied abroad in Spain.  During the summer, I decided to travel through the rest of Europe, so I hopped onboard a train bound for Paris.  When I arrived, I got off the train, looked around at the enormity of the Lazare Train Station, then realized that I had no idea what I was doing!  In Spain, I spoke the language so I could communicate.  In France I understood no one and no one seemed to understand me or at least they pretended not to:)

When my mounting anxiety began to move my feet, I found myself walking from one end of the station to the other, then back again.  I did this for about 30-45 minutes before my brain began to clear and my anxiety faded.  That clearing made room for an insight…. find a place to stay! –  A simple idea but one that was inaccessible until I began to move around.  Now I had a first step and from there I could decide what to do next.

Lesson One – When in doubt, walk it off

Many years later, I found myself in Egypt.  The pyramids, the amazing temples and structures, the citadels and mosques – Egypt is a land still seeped in antiquity and mystique and I loved every minute of being there.

On my last day I could be found sailing in a Felucca, the traditional sailboats of the Nile.  The weather in November was perfect and as I sailed past ancient temples and forgotten ruins, I decided to throw caution to the wind.  I accepted a sandwich from the Captain made with raw tomatoes, cucumber and onion – vegetables that had been rinsed in the Nile.   My bad!

The next morning I woke up w/King Tut’s revenge, and a horrible head cold.  To make matters worse I was in Aswan, in the south of Egypt and had to travel about 500 miles by bus to get to Cairo to catch my plane home.

The bus ride was packed with people, a goat and several chickens and every seat was taken. I found a spot behind the bus driver and stood there gripping the back of his seat and wondering how I was going to get through the many hours feeling as sick as I was.

When the bus stopped to let people off, I hoped for a seat but they were quickly filled.  I turned back and prayed for a swift death but instead, two hands grabbed my hips and pulled me into a seat.  A woman, covered from head to foot in a black kaftan, had not only pulled me into the seat but had gotten between myself and a man who had wanted to sit down.  He yelled at her but she ignored him, looked at me once, then got off the bus.

Lesson Two – Practice Random Acts of Kindness  

You just never know what kind of day someone may be having and that one thing you do may make a difference that they will never forget.  I don’t know if she’s ever thought of me again but I have thought of her hundreds of times since.

Many years later I found myself in Peru and on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.  The trail is 26 miles long passing through high-mountain passes and elevations of nearly 14,000 feet. Having not adjusted to the altitude, I could barely catch my breath, my head was pounding and I felt drained.

My Guide kept giving me cocoa leaves to chew on, which didn’t seem to help at the time or maybe it did because as I am writing this I realize that it was in the middle of chewing a big wad of the leaves that the phrase, “One step at a time” came into my head.  “One step at a time,” I began to say it to myself over and over and over until it became a kind of mantra.  For three days I repeated that mantra, up mountains, down mountains, through a lush forest, until finally reaching the unforgettable city of Machu Pichu!

Lesson Three – When conquering life’s mountains, take it One step at a time

In France I learned, “When in doubt, walk it off.”  In Egypt a stranger deeply touched me with a “Random act of kindness and in Peru “One step at a time,” showed me the way to conquer any mountain.

Travelling solo may not be for everyone but the experience left me with a greater sense of confidence and nourished my soul in a deep and profound way.   The lessons I learned on those distant journeys have helped me through many of my own challenges such as death, divorce and disappointment.

In your journey towards optimum health it is very important to eat well and exercise every day, but don’t ever forget that your spiritual well-being is as important as that of your physical body.  Every day, find a way to nourish your spirit that is enjoyable and unique to you.

Joseph Cambell said it best…..“Follow your Bliss.”

To your optimal health and happiness,



Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853     
Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing



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How Does Your Body Speak? 

Most people would probably say it’s with sound and words through your mouth.  But the truth is that isn’t the only way our bodies speak to us.

Take for example your digestive tract.  It speaks in whispers at first – a twinge, minor discomfort, occasional bloating, but then like a scorned lover, if you don’t listen, or ignore her, or silence her with medication, she starts to speak louder  -  heartburn,  chronic constipation or diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s Disease these are the myriad of ways that our body tries to get our attention.

About 90 million people in the United States are affected by digestive problems. Digestive disorders account for more than 104 million physician office visits per year.

Although everyone is different, often what I find when treating patients in my Acupuncture and Nutritional Counseling practice in Marin County, is that many of us are not taught to eat well.  Or if we are, the basics fall by the wayside due to our busy and chaotic lives.

A good rule of thumb is always to start at the beginning, so here are 5 tips for digestive health whether your digestion is perfect or it is already beginning to speak.

  5 Tips for healthy digestion

  1. Take your time and enjoy – Turn off the television, shut off the cell phone and close your lap-top, engage in pleasant conversation or better yet, don’t talk at all.  When you eat in a relaxed way you send a message to your body that everything is ok.  When you eat hurriedly you send a message to your body that there is danger lurking behind those lettuce leaves.  Soon you’ll feel the tightness, the discomfort and pain as your digestive tract responds to the message of danger that you are sending.  It takes a lot of energy to digest your food, and most of us don’t have excess energy to burn so don’t detour your energy to the t.v or anything else when you eat, just eat and enjoy your food.
  2. Put down the water glass:  Don’t drink water or beverages with your food.   Otherwise you’ll be washing away the necessary digestive enzymes that break down food  to be absorbed into your body.  Heartburn, bloating, pain, diarrhea, these can all be symptoms of a lack of enzymes.  On the other hand, it is absolutely vital to stay hydrated for your digestion to work optimally.  A good rule of thumb – drink water 15 minutes before a meal and 30 minuts after.
  3. Fill your plate with color: I can’t stress the importance of eating at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for proper digestion, to avoid disease and so you fill your body with the daily vital nutrients for energy and vitality.  The human digestive tract is about 27’ long.  Fruits and vegetables generally move very quickly through the digestive tract, meat takes much longer.  As meat sits in the intestine it becomes more susceptible to harmful bacteria and parasites and this makes you more vulnerable not only to poor digestion but to other more serious illness as well. To prevent disease and keep that digestion healthy, do what your grandma said and eat more fruits and vegetables.
  4. Start Walking: Your large intestine is like a sewage plant. It recycles the stuff your body can use and stores the waste for disposal. The longer waste sits in your colon, the longer toxins have to leach out of the stool and back into your system. Exercise stimulates peristalsis, which gets the waste moving out of the colon. Research indicates that exercising can decrease colon cancer risk by up to 40%.
  5. What else are you not digesting? -  In Traditional Chinese Medicine System, digestive complaints often have an underlying emotional component that is important to look at.  If you are having trouble with digestion, you may want to ask yourself the question, “besides food, what is it that I’m having trouble digesting?   Is it an idea, a situation, a relationship?  What am  I having trouble swallowing?  Where don’t I feel nourished in life?  Getting to the deeper meaning of any physical problem is often the insight we need to help us move through it.

Your body speaks in different and interesting ways, it’s up to each of us to interpret them.  But when it comes to our digestive tract whether it’s the body whispering with minor discomfort, or the body shouting louder w/pain or more serious symptoms, consider beginning at the beginning.

To Your Optimal Health & Wellness, 


Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853 
Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing

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Do you know anyone who doesn’t want to be in a relationship?

I don’t.  Most people yearn for the gifts of closeness, companionship and connection that a healthy and long lasting relationship offers.  That is why, when it is gone, it can feel so heart-wrenching.

In “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.  I just celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary and by my calculations, I have spent 53, 760 waking hours in my marriage to my husband, Ken.   They have been years filled with joy as well as challenges.  But because of this relationship, I am a better, more complete and more loving person.

A healthy relationship not only helps us live happier but also, according to researchers, helps us live longer.  Here are five ingredients that have been invaluable in helping me maintain the marriage of my dreams.  Perhaps they can work for you.

 5 Ingredients for a Healthy and Lasting Relationship

1. Vision: If you don’t have a mutual vision in your relationship, you may eventually find yourself in the future at a different destination than your partner.  It’s hard for a relationship to survive when someone, for example; wants to have children and the other person doesn’t or your partner wants to travel the world and you want to stay home.   Of course opposites attract and that can make life very interesting but having a mutual vision in mind can at least keep you both on the same track and going towards the same destination.

2.  Allowing: Allowing your partner be who they are, regardless of who you think they should be is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give a loved one and your relationship.

We all have a unique purpose here on this earth; something we can do better than anyone else.  But often other people’s expectations, demands, or their own vision for us keeps us from being who we are meant to be and doing what we are meant to do.

I never even realized that it was a possible to be with someone who didn’t expect me to be anyway other than who I am.  My husband, Ken, was the first person that modeled that behavior for me.  He has allowed me to be who I am and this acceptance has allowed me to enjoy my life more than I ever thought possible and to connect with my purpose in life.   I’m grateful to him for that gift.

3. Like: Remember that song by Crosby Stills and Nash, “Love the One You’re With?”   For a long and healthy relationship, I suggest that you not only love the one you’re with but you “Like” the one you’re with, too.  Passion burns hot and bright, especially at the beginning of a relationship but when it begins to cool down and the rose colored glasses begin to clear, do you ultimately like who is standing in front of you? Friendship is important in a relationship and paramount in a marriage.

4. Own: Sometimes people mistake being in a relationship as a kind of ownership of the other person.  Instead, take ownership of yourself.  Occupy yourself!   Most of us come into our relationships with some kind of emotional baggage and its unfair to insist that our partners carry our baggage as well as their own.

When we truly own what’s ours, instead of criticizing our partner for not fulfilling our needs or projecting our “stuff” onto them, our relationship can become more honest with more space to breathe and grow.  Relationship expert, Arielle Ford offers a great piece of advice for when you feel the need to criticize your partner.  Instead of criticizing them right away, hold off and say five positive things before you say the one critical thing.  And when you do say the critical thing – say it gently.

5. Raucous Laughter: Raucous, rib-splitting laughter is a delicious tonic for a healthy relationship and a healthy life.  In a world where so many of us take life so seriously, laughter can help you and your partner release steam as buttons get pushed.

One night, early on in our relationship, Ken and I were walking to my duplex after dinner and he said something so funny, that we both had to sit down on the curb because we were laughing so hard.  Finally, after about ten minutes, we got up and went back to my apartment.  The next morning we woke up and I noticed that Ken had a black eye.  It took us a while to realize that he had laughed so hard that he had ruptured a blood vessel under his eye ,and thus the black eye.  Perhaps this isn’t the best way to convince you that a great sense of humor is good for your health but laughter has certainly made the challenges of marriage a lot more fun, lighter and more memorable.

There are many ingredients for making love work.But the five ingredients that have helped keep my relationship healthy and happy are…..

 Vision – having a mutual vision with your partner

Allowing –  your partner to be who they are

Like – the one you are with

Own- your own baggage

Raucous Laughter


It takes Valor or courage to be in a relationship, to make the commitment, and to give yourself permission to enjoy love to its fullest.   I am more in love now than I have ever been and I sincerely wish you and yours the kind of love that I have found.

To Your Optimal Health & Wellness,


If you would like to watch the short video where this blog was inspired,  please click here.



Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853

Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing


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Seeds & Great Deeds

I’ve  just spent a thrilling month of interviewing several of my personal heroes for a book I am writing.  When I asked the legendary animal rights activist, Alex Pacheco, former co-founder of PETA, and now the force behind, what inspires him towards often heroic acts on behalf of animals, he answered quietly but firmly, “outrage.”

As a holistic practitioner I always encourage balance when it comes to our emotions.  But sometimes it takes a powerful emotion like outrage to balance a stagnated emotion like apathy.   In this case, apathy is what many are experiencing when it comes to taking action against the ever-expanding GMO dominance in our food supply – a situation which will have serious consequences for animals and humans alike.

What’s So Bad About A GMO Anyway?

GMOs are genetically modified organisms that change the cellular structure of a seed.  The problem is that once the seed is modified and the grains grown from the seeds are eaten, the effect on humans and animals cannot be known.

Your Health – The Personal Cost

About a year ago I went to a meeting where indigenous South Americans spoke of the threat of GMOs to their culture.  Apparently Monsanto, the biggest proponent of GMOs and the company that stands to gain the biggest profits from their success, was showing up to local market places and offering free 5lb sacks of seeds to the natives.  Not understanding that they were Genetically Modified, the farmers would then plant the seeds in their fields causing their previously untainted seed supply to become contaminated as the winds, birds and other forms of nature would disseminate the GMOs.  The Indigenous Elders were pleading with us to help them because their people were now becoming ill from their crops.

I also recently came back from a three day intensive on “Mastering the Thyroid” where it was suggested that GMO’s may have something to do with the current epidemic of Thyroid disease.  Thyroid illness and gluten intolerance often go hand in hand.  Why is it so many of us have gluten sensitivities and allergies now more than ever before?  After all, people could eat grains back in the day, and not react to them.  What has changed today and the biggest difference that exists, are the seeds these grains are grown from.

The Seeds of Sense

In the end, whether you believe that GMOs are good or bad, common sense would dictate that at least we ought to have labels on our food so we can decide for ourselves whether we want to eat them or not.  60-70% of processed foods have genetically engineered ingredients but the FDA doesn’t require labeling.  Someone said to me recently, “if GMO’s are so good for us, then why isn’t Monsanto welcoming the labeling they are currently fighting tooth and nail to avoid.  Shouldn’t they be rejoicing that we will all know that these miracles of nature are in our food?”  Well Monsanto is fighting the labeling with everything they’ve got.  That speaks volumes, at least to me.

Our emotions are also powerful seeds as well as important keys to understanding ourselves.  Whether it is outrage or compassion that inspires you, consider taking a moment to plant your own seeds today by doing something for the world, for animals and for yourself.

Click Here to sign the petition for truth in labeling.  California is poised to be the first state with mandatory GMO labeling laws through the 2012 California Ballot Initiative process.

Click Here to learn more about and their mission is to end the needless suffering and killing of stray dogs.


To Your Optimal Health & Wellness,




Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853

    Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing

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When Beauty is only Skin Deep

Recently I won a contest and because my picture was going to be in the San Francisco Chronicle, I decided to get a nice haircut for the occasion.  I asked the woman who was about to wash my hair to use the cruelty-free shampoo and products and not the ones that were tested on animals.  She informed me that the products that the salon carried that were tested on animals were considered better products than those that were cruelty-free and perhaps I should reconsider.  She informed me that the cruelty-free products they carried contained parabens and other chemicals that weren’t healthy for me.

In case you are unaware, parabens are compounds used as preservatives, that are widely found in skin care products as well as cosmetics.  When parabens enter the blood stream through your skin, they can disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking estrogen.  There is strong evidence linking these compounds with breast cancer.

I realized, that in this situation I was left with the choice of either using products tested on animals such as rats, rabbits, cats and dogs and subjecting these innocent creatures to cruelty and torture or instead to use products that were cruelty-free but containing chemicals that could jeopardize my own health.

I told her to give me the parabens.

In Los Angeles, many years before I moved my acupuncture practice to Marin County, I had convinced my hair salon owner to use cruelty-free products and as more people became aware of this option, they began to demand it too.  The products he carried were not only cruelty free but paraben free as well.  I told this to the woman washing my hair, in the hopes that the idea might resonate with her and her response was that I bring in my own products next time.

I left the salon with my hair looking terrific, but inside I could feel my anger brewing.  Choose between cruelty free products or parabens?  Why do I even have to make a choice like this one?  Between the life of an animal or my own health?  It suddenly struck me as a preposterous choice.

We live in a world where we seem to be having to make choices like this more often than not.  Choices of living and convenience that often come with a hefty price tag.   We fill up at the gas tank, and then have to breathe the air from the exhaust our cars generate.  We buy fruits and vegetables because they are chock full of anti-oxidants but they are also laden with pesticides.  We want to wear nice clothes but if they are leather they come from an industry that causes immeasurable cruelty to other living beings.  Need I mention clothing made with fur?

Scenarios like these are endless but when all is said and done it does come down to choice.  And the ultimate choice is that of being compassionate towards ourselves and our fellow creatures or choosing to look the other way and let things be as they are.  Choice is a huge gift that most of us take for granted and perhaps never fully appreciate the impact we can make with it.  Especially when that choice is attached to a pocket book, a vote or a strong voice that others follow.

I will bring my cruelty and paraben free products to the salon the next time around.   Click here if you’d like to see what I use.  If one salon can change, then I reason, so can another.

May you have a beautiful and inspiring holiday season and make your choices, voices and pocketbook count as you shop during the holidays.

To a world free of parabens and compassion for animals,


btw….If you would like to read about the contest I won, entitled, “PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian over 50,” you can read all about it you can in the San Francisco Chronicle by clicking on the link.

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Oh No!  Now What Can’t I Eat?

When patients call me for nutritional consultations I can sometimes feel that they are bracing themselves to hear the bad news  – which of their favorite foods they no longer can eat.

Well yes, chances are there are going to be some changes, like dropping some of the poisons that come masked as fast food, table salt or refined sugar.   These are the  foods that taste good now and that you can become addicted to over time until one day you realize that these foods may have something to do with why you are always tired and have high blood pressure, or why you’ve gained thirty pounds, or are have pain in your hands due to arthritis, or any of a number of unhealthy and undesirable scenarios that come with the chronic degenerative disease package.

What’s Your Toxin of Choice?

Yes, it’s hard to give up  at we love eating.  My toxin of choice had always been sugar until a lab test came back showing my glucose levels were way too high.  I had been through a difficult divorce the year before and had been literally drowning my heart in pint after pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  The sugar solution never cured my heart-ache, how could it?  The joy of it only lasted a few minutes then left me carrying an extra ten pounds, which made me cry even more.

The weight took me a while to let go of and it wasn’t a fun process to rid myself of the sugar addiction.  Now there are easier ways instead of going cold turkey and I do offer these solutions to my patient’s with pre-diabetes, imbalanced blood glucose issues, metabolic syndrome or excess weight. What was fun and pivotal for me during this “toxin removal phase of life”  was looking at myself in the mirror after I lost not the original ten, but twenty-five pounds, and how much better I felt after a month of putting whole, organic and nutritious food into my body.

So if you want to begin to eat more nutritiously, lose a few pounds, and start eating to live rather than eating towards an early or painful demise, don’t focus on what you can’t eat, focus instead on what you can.   Think of  your nutrition as an adventure instead of a chore, a passage of new discovery instead of with dismay, think of what you will win, instead of what will be lost.

Regardless of your age, when you eat the foods that your body was physiologically designed to eat, you can begin to feel…..

  • More energy and vitality
  • Greater strength and endurance
  • Fewer aches and pains
  • More physical and emotional balance

Life is meant to be lived.  We can live a more rewarding, richer and fuller life when we give our bodies the appropriate fuel for health and longevity.  I love living life feeling this way and I think you will too.

Foods to Add to Your Day for Optimal Fuel & Vitality

  • Raw Fruits and vegetables: 9-12 servings is the latest consensus from the powers that be.   Eat more vegetables than fruit and add a variety of colors to your plate.
  • Nuts, seed, legumes, beans: great protein sources and loaded with essential fatty acids – a lack of these good fats is one of the primary reasons we come down w/degenerative illnesses and cancers in our life time according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Water, water, water: if you never water your garden, how do you expect anything to grow?  Your body is approximately 75% water.  How is the water going to get inside of your body unless you drink it?  1/2 your body weight in ounces is about the amount you need on a daily basis.  If you are drinking caffeinated drinks, they you are depleting you  even more because of the dehydration they cause.
  • Whole, sprouted, organic grains: only one serving at a time – 1/2 cup of cooked.  If you have issues with blood glucose imbalance you may want to cut down to one serving poor day or none at all, or choose grains with a lower glycemic load.
  • High Quality Vitamins and Minerals: if your head is spinning from the dozens that are sold in the grocery store you aren’t alone.  It’s confusing to know what to take and what to choose from but having said this, it is vital that you take vitamins and minerals for optimum health.  If you do not you run the risk of illness and degenerative disease.  If you would like some guidance, I offer a free 15 minute consultation at 415.306.1853.  Just mention this blog.

Most people find that they are not able to eat this way 24/7.   No problem. Eat this way 80% of the time and you will be golden.  You will also find that if you start filling up on foods that ARE optimal fuel for your body, you won’t have a lot of space left for the other foods that rob you of nutrition, eventually make you sick and often come in boxes, packages, cans and plastic wrap.

Having said this, we live in the modern world and I don’t believe that all packaged food is the enemy.   Be an aware, conscious and informed consumer.

Oh and one more thing…..If you are interested in a good read, please check out “My Name is Mahataa written by the esteemed, Dr. Kathy Sankey.  It is a beautifully written book from a truly remarkable healer, fellow Acupuncturist and good friend.

To your optimal health and longevity always,


Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853

Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing







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Napping, the Ancient Art

My friend, Liza Pascal, an acupuncturist in Boulder, Colorado, used to work with Dr.Yeshi Dhonden, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama.  I’m certain that Dr. Dhonden has many secrets of longevity to share with mankind, but one that he practices first hand and daily is to take a nap every afternoon at 1pm.   Rain or shine, whether it’s The Dalai Lama or the common man at his door, Dr. Dhonden understands the importance of this easy, effective and free lifestyle habit to boost his overall health and longevity.

A Nap is a Nap is a Nap….Not Exactly

When I was little, my mother used to make me nap every day for at least an hour.  Later, I had the amazing opportunity to study in Madrid, Spain for a year where the entire country would take a nap every day for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

In my private practice, in Marin County, so many of the patients I work with struggle with sleep issues in particular as they age.  Acupuncture is terrific for insomnia and sleep related issues, so much so that  I am considering extending those visits to an hour and a half because it pains me too much to wake people so soundly asleep after an hours visit.

If you have a demanding job, are working long hours or on the night shift, if you are finding that you are drinking several cups of coffee or sodas to keep you going through the day, adding extra pounds because you rely on too many carbohydrates for quick fuel, or just not feeling as healthy as you would like, then you might want to start practicing the art of napping right now.

What is the Perfect Nap for You?

Not all naps are created equal and some are better for different circumstances than others.  Below is a short list that you might find useful.

Nap 1: 5 minutes or less. Effective for sleepiness.

Nap 2: 5 – 20 minutes. Increases alertness and improves motor performance and stamina.  Scientists have proven that taking a 20-minute nap approximately eight hours after waking will do more for your stamina than sleeping another 20 minutes in the morning

Nap 3: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the above naps plus improves muscle memory and long-term memory.

Nap 4: 50 to 90 minutes. Good for improving perceptual processing and repairing bones and muscle.  You may want to lay off of this type of nap if you are having sleep issues at night because you will probably go into a deeper sleep and it may interfere with your night’s rest.

Nap 5: The preventative nap.  If you know you are going to be sleep deprived, try getting a nap in advance.

The Benefits of Napping

Napping in general benefits heart functioning, hormonal maintenance, and cell repair, says Dr. Sara Mednick who is at the forefront of napping research.  A power nap, says Mednick, maximizes these benefits by getting the sleeper into and out of rejuvenating sleep as fast as possible.

If you want to reduce stress levels, increase your productivity, memory and cognition, boost your creativity and maximize your overall health, then give napping a try.  You don’t need a bed to nap.  If you are at work, try closing your office door and putting a do not disturb sign on your door.  Or get more of a bang for your buck.  Go out into nature, find a nice spot on the grass, and enjoy a quick nap in the sun as you absorb that well needed Vitamin D, which studies show us most Americans are lacking in.

And if you want the perfect icing on the cake, I’d suggest my own special form of napping……




…..the cat nap.


To your optimal health and longevity always,


Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., M.T.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling 415.306.1853

Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Energetic Healing




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