Barefoot Doctor's Journal

Take control of your health with this guide to natural health and healing. Get expert advice to help you alleviate pain and live healthy naturally. Access to tools, information and opportunities.

Take control of your health

For 5000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine has help people to relieve pain and achieve a healthy longevity naturally.

A comprehensive guide to natural health and healing, the Barefoot Doctor’s Journal seeks to empower it's readers to take control of their own health, find their own inspiration, help create healthier communities and share the adventure with whoever is interested. Internationally recognized experts in the fields of healthy aging and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Living Younger Longer Institute has helped hundreds of people each year to live healthy naturally.

News You Can Use!

Providing members with the latest scientific research on the ancient healing secrets of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Get information, access to tools, and enjoyable opportunities for a lifetime of active adventure!

September 20, 2021
Joe Brady

Physical Activity Can Ease Depression

Woman jogging with a dog
The study found that physical activity can improve mood afterward. Pilin_Petunyia/iStock/Thinkstock

When you are physically active your brain releases a neurotransmitter hormone called nor-epinephrine, “the happiness and contentedness hormone”. This is part of how the brain regulates its own moods. We were designed to live an active vigorous life, and when we do, we feel better, sleep better, have more energy, and scientists are finding that we can also use exercise as medicine as an important component in the treatment of depression.

Researchers found that how much sleep you get, how much energy you have, and how much physical activity you do can affect feelings of depression. The findings suggest that physical activity may improve your mood and sleep.

Physical activity can help improve your health and quality of life. Not getting enough can increase your risk for some diseases and mental health issues.

A research team looked at the relationship between sleep, physical activity, energy, and people’s moods. They collected data about physical activity and sleepover two weeks using devices worn around the wrist.

Participants used mobile devices to rate their mood and energy levels four times a day. Ratings ranged from “very happy” to “very sad” for mood and “very tired” to “very energetic” for their energy levels. They also rated their sleep and daily activities.

The team found that physical activity improved people’s moods later in the day. The effect was even larger for those with bipolar disorder, a mood disorder that has periods of feeling extremely “up” to feeling very “down” and depressed. Physical activity also made people feel more energetic and affected their sleep.

September 13, 2021
Joe Brady

Breathe Easier: Dealing with Bad Air Quality

Illustration of a woman opening the window
Breathe Easier

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Even though you can’t see it, the air you breathe can affect your health. Polluted air can cause difficulty breathing, flare-ups of allergy or asthma, and other lung problems. Long-term exposure to air pollution can raise the risk of other diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

Some people think of air pollution as something that’s found mainly outside. They may picture cars idling or power plants with smokestacks. But air pollution can also occur inside—in homes, offices, or even schools.

Whether outdoors or indoors, the effects of air pollution are most obvious for those who already have difficulty breathing. “All people are likely susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution. But people who have chronic lung diseases such as asthma are more susceptible,” explains Dr. Nadia Hansel, who studies lung problems at Johns Hopkins University.

NIH researchers are working to understand and reduce the impact that air pollution—both outdoors and indoors—has on health.

September 7, 2021
Joe Brady

Relaxation Response: The Antidote to Stress

The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. Relaxation techniques are practices to help bring about the body’s “relaxation response,” which is characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a reduced heart rate. Some of the studies discussed in this article compare relaxation techniques to cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychological treatment that helps a person become aware of ways of thinking that may be automatic but are inaccurate and harmful. The therapy involves efforts to change thinking patterns and usually behavioral patterns as well.

What are the different types of relaxation techniques?

Relaxation techniques are built into many mind/body therapies such as Tai Chi and Yoga. The concept of “Sung” in tai chi for example is the application of the relaxation response in action. The athletes’ relaxation response leads to higher performance levels and the “runners high” which makes the activity enjoyable for its own sake. Listed below are some other types of relaxation techniques.

  • Progressive Relaxation: Also called progressive muscle relaxation, this technique involves tensing different muscles in your body and then releasing the tension.
  • Autogenic Training: Through a series of mental exercises involving relaxation and ideas you suggest to yourself (autosuggestion), your mind focuses on your body’s experience of relaxation.
  • Guided Imagery or “Visualization”: In guided imagery, you picture objects, scenes, or events that are associated with relaxation or calmness and attempt to produce a similar feeling in your body.
  • Biofeedback-Assisted Relaxation: Through feedback that is usually provided by an electronic device, you learn how to recognize and manage how your body responds. The electronic device lets you see how your heart rate, blood pressure, or muscle tension changes in response to feeling stressed or relaxed.
  • Self-Hypnosis: In self-hypnosis programs, people learn to produce the relaxation response when prompted by a phrase or nonverbal cue (called a “suggestion”) of their own.
  • Breathing Exercises: For breathing exercises, you might focus on taking slow, deep breaths—also called diaphragmatic breathing.

Other complementary health practices such as massage therapy, meditation, yoga, and tai chi can produce several beneficial effects in the body, including the relaxation response; however, these practices are not discussed in this fact sheet. For more detailed information on these practices, see “Massage Therapy: What You Need To Know,” “Meditation,” “Yoga: What You Need To Know,” and “Tai Chi and Qi Gong.”

August 29, 2021
Joe Brady

Anxiety and Mind/Body Approaches

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. It’s normal for people to feel anxious in response to stress. Sometimes, however, anxiety becomes a severe, persistent problem or is an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Several mind and body practices (also referred to as psychological and/or physical approaches) have been studied to see whether they may relieve anxiety or help people cope with it. The results for some of them are promising. It should be noted that in Traditional Chinese Medicine all of these mind/body techniques to treat anxiety, must be accompanied by an adequate amount of physical activity in order to work. Hopefully, future research will treat these issues as a problem of mind and body and not strictly an intellectual problem. Having said that the results in studies using mind/body approaches to anxiety are truly promising and offer an alternative to just using drugs.

  • Many but not all studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can be helpful for anxiety.
  • There is evidence that listening to music can reduce anxiety during illness or medical treatment.
  • Relaxation techniques may reduce anxiety in people with chronic medical problems and those who are having medical procedures.

What the Science Says

Complementary approaches can be classified by their primary therapeutic input (how the therapy is taken in or delivered), which may be:

  • Nutritional (e.g., special diets, dietary supplements, herbs, probiotics, and microbial-based therapies).
  • Psychological (e.g., meditation, hypnosis, music therapies, relaxation therapies).
  • Physical (e.g., acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation).
  • Combinations such as psychological and physical (e.g., yoga, tai chi, dance therapies, some forms of art therapy) or psychological and nutritional (e.g., mindful eating).
August 24, 2021
Joe Brady

What is whole-person health?

Whole-person health involves looking at the whole-person, not just separate organs or body systems—and considering multiple factors that promote either health or disease. It means helping and empowering individuals, families, communities, and populations to improve their health in multiple interconnected biological, behavioral, social, and environmental areas. Instead of treating a specific disease, whole-person health focuses on restoring health, promoting resilience, and preventing diseases across a lifespan.

Multilevel Whole Person Health Framework

Why is whole-person health important?

Health and disease are not separate, disconnected states but instead occur on a path that can move in two different directions, either toward health or toward disease.

On this path, many factors, including one’s biological makeup; some unhealthy behaviors, such as poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, and poor sleep; as well as social aspects of life—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age—can lead to chronic diseases of more than one organ system. On the other hand, self-care, lifestyle, and behavioral interventions may help with the return to health.

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and degenerative joint disease, can also occur with chronic pain, depression, and opioid misuse—all conditions exacerbated by chronic stress. Some chronic diseases increase the immediate and long-term risks of COVID-19 infection. Understanding the condition in which a person has lived, addressing behaviors at an early stage, and managing stress can not only prevent multiple diseases but also help restore health and stop the progression to disease across a person’s lifespan.