Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a root canal. I’ve been preparing for weeks. (See part 1 and part 2 of this dental journey if you wish.) My motivation is two-fold: for the procedure to go as smoothly as possible, and to avoid having to go through this ever again. I’m enlisting all the holistic tools at my disposal to make this a reality.
I continue to use Reiki daily, both for my teeth and jaws, as well as sending it to the procedure itself. Given what I know about trauma, the body’s fight-flight-freeze mechanism, and its physiological responses; my strategy is to promote calmness. Reiki, breathing practices, and yoga are the techniques that come to mind.
I’m also interested in minimizing inflammation, for which I’m using diet, herbs, and aromatherapy. I have propolis and arnica tablets standing by for after the procedure and ibuprofen as a last resort. Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence for stress and trauma, will no doubt be a huge help as well.
I was delighted to discover askthedentist.com during my research of holistic support for a root canal. This sight is devoted to functional dentistry. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! There’s tons of information about how to maximize oral health that extends way beyond brushing, flushing, and trips to the dentist. Nutrition is a prime focus as a preventative measure. I ordered a new electric toothbrush and natural toothpaste based on the thorough product research provided.
I’m feeling quite well prepared. My doctor comes with the highest recommendations and I’m doing everything possible on my end to ensure a positive outcome. Naturally massage, plenty of rest, green smoothies and other soft foods, and several book and video distractions will all have a place in my recovery. Taking an active role in my wellness plan (which now thoroughly includes preventing future invasive dental interventions!) has been an empowering process.
I’m ready for my first and last root canal. Bring it on Dr. Lim!
It seems appropriate that I’m writing this while swishing coconut oil in my mouth as part of my complementary, holistic campaign for maximum dental health. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique with tons of anecdotal support, but it hasn’t been subjected to rigorous scientific experimentation. I suspect this is because there’s no money to be made from exposing the benefits of simple self-care practices. I’m willing to give it a try as I see no possible harmful effects and have greater trust in folk medicine than western medicine when it comes to promoting wellness.
After 20 minutes, I’ll brush with baking soda and then again with a mostly natural toothpaste, containing flouride. I still believe that flouride is toxic, but I’m using it on a temporary basis, as my intuition is telling me to use all the tools I can right now in this crisis period, and to take extra steps to support detoxification along the way. I should also mention that I’m doing tongue scraping (another revered Ayurvedic recommendation), first thing every morning too.
Yesterday I went in for the root canal. The doctor was very compassionate and took the time to explain the process to me and answer my questions. He was a referral from my dentist, and that referral was independently verified by a client who is also a dentist, so I was feeling quite good about the choices that led me to be reclining in his chair.
I’d been Reiki’ing myself and the procedure for days. I was as prepared as I possibly could have been. But holy hell! Talk about triggering the fight-flight-or-freeze reflex! It was invasive, scary, and I don’t mind sharing- traumatic. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through it without flowing Reiki and deep breathing. While there was very little pain, the threat of it was overpowering and I could feel my body respond physiologically as if I were in actual danger.
As it turns out, he was unable to complete the process and I have to go back in two weeks for the final round! Apparently the alternative was allowing saliva and bacteria to be introduced into the canal, creating the possibility of “big problems” a few years down the line. No thank you! Now that I know what to expect and that I can indeed survive the experience, I’m feeling less anxious. We’ll see if that calm holds when I go in for the next appointment!
I left the office with instructions for aftercare. They did not cover the emotional distress I was feeling, nor the adrenaline that was pumping through me. I felt the familiar compulsion to suppress uncomfortable emotions using the potent distractions of food, drink, and electronics. I resisted, knowing that I needed to release the energy and emotions and not stuff them down inside of myself.
I continued to flood myself with Reiki on the train ride home while practicing deep breathing with extended exhales. I came home and used aromatherapy, yoga, EFT, and meditation to release the excess energy from my system and to engage the relaxation response. I added propolis to the recommended warm water salt rinse. Several hours later, the numbness had worn off and a mild pain kicked in. I took one ibuprofen, thinking that a good night’s sleep was of utmost importance.
Today I’m feeling fine. I already had a Reiki treatment scheduled for myself, and I’ve switched it to a long-distance session so I can stay home and comfortable (it’s cold and rainy here today) and still receive the full benefits of divinely guided life-force energy. I will continue to treat myself frequently, but there is something magical about receiving treatment from another practitioner.
While I’m waiting for the next appointment, along with the extra dental self-care, I’ll explore nutrition for re-mineralizing teeth. My dentist is skeptical, but I personally know someone who succeeded with this approach and avoided multiple fillings. It’s seems obvious that the body needs certain building blocks to maintain healthy teeth and that the food I choose will be able to supply them.
Overall, I’m able to look at this as adventure of exploring the relationship between modern medicine and complementary medicine. The goal is to use all the tools possible to create the greatest, most optimal outcome. I’m the captain on this journey; investigating all the options, receiving advice from various professionals, and making decisions based on my personal value system. While I can’t truthfully say that I’m glad to be here, I’m going to make the best of it, and do my best to prevent booking a return trip.
Well this is certainly a topic I never imagined writing about! I’m no expert on teeth or dentistry, but I am committed to living a life based in body-mind-spirit integration, and that includes my oral cavity. When a filling fell out 6 months ago, and I chose to ignore it, perhaps that was a mistake? OK, it was absolutely a mistake! I recognize now that it was a message that something was out of balance. Sheesh, this is the foundation of my belief system! Moving forward… So when part of a tooth (that was attached to the former filling) fell out, I chose more wisely.
So what to do when you believe in holistic healing and there is no holistic dentist in your area, when you have no dental insurance or excess cash, when you’re not in pain but are aware that it’s a distinct possibility in the near future? You do the best you can to stay aligned with your values and take immediate action.
So I did. I’ll share the journey here with the hopes that it might be of assistance to someone else on a similar path.
For starters, I turn to my primary tool: Reiki. I used Reiki for clarity and intuition when choosing a dentist. I wanted someone who would be compassionate and understanding of my alternative views about healthcare, and open to working with me in this regard. I sent Reiki ahead to the appointment for the best possible outcome, to calm my nerves, and to attract the means with which to pay. (For now, that’s my credit card, but I’m confident the means to pay that bill will follow!)
Being devoted to holistic healing does not prevent me from getting help when I’m out of my league. A decaying tooth with a nerve that is apparently quite nearly exposed is way out of my league. And preventing pain is a top priority in my book. So, off I go for a root canal tomorrow. I’m already sending Reiki to the appointment for a smooth, painless procedure and speedy healing.
I’m also going to pick up some propolis, which I’ve been told by a bee-loving friend, is an excellent choice for healing gums. I’m preparing soft foods for aftercare and creating as much space as possible in my schedule for a restful recovery. I have herbs and essential oils on hand for managing inflammation through stimulating the body’s innate healing ability, rather than using OTC meds to suppress it. Meds are on hand, just in case, as I don’t believe in suffering needlessly.
As for the other issues that the dentist found… well I’ll be working on them in the meantime. She can have this urgent intervention. But this does not mean that I’m giving away my power as the primary medical expert of myself; I will be doing my magic as well. The very same tools I use as preventative and alternative medicine on a daily basis can also be used as complementary medicine.
It seems that teeth have simply not been on my radar beyond the basics. I don’t recall ever having sent Reiki to my teeth. That’s weird because I Reiki everything! Outside of minimizing sugar, I haven’t thought at all about what foods support healthy teeth. I have avoided fluoride, but not considered what the most helpful toothpaste ingredients are.
Those days are over. Dental health in now on my radar. I’m getting involved and applying every trick I’ve ever learned from nutrition to stress management to sound healing, plant medicine, and ancient Ayurvedic techniques. And dental reflexology. What?! It’s a thing! New to me, but I’m going to check it out. All holistic remedies will be explored.
I just finished a session with a client who has been coming for massage monthly for the past two years. When we began, she could barely turn her neck and was experiencing throbbing pain on a daily basis. She works in a high-power, high-stress corporate job that demands long hours sitting at the computer, and isn’t interested in changing that. Today she reported that since her last appointment, she was symptom free for 24 days, felt some tension in the trouble zone for the past four days, but zero pain all month.
I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. I’m sure she could have had similar results with many other therapists. My intention here is to offer hope to those who endure chronic pain that results from lifestyles or careers that they wish to learn to cope with. In this case, a more ergonomic work station, biweekly yoga classes, and a monthly massage (and beneath all that, the commitment to actually follow through) were all it took to cross the threshold from out-of-balance to close-enough-balance.
I think we all have such a tipping point.
Mine is a daily yoga and Reiki practice, bimonthly massage, and a receiving a monthly Reiki session from a colleague. I’m working with some chronic issues, plus a car-less lifestyle, and a physically demanding job; so my maintenance program needs to be more thorough than most people’s. It’s totally worth it to avoid that irritating point underneath my left scapula or the dull ache in my lower back that have plagued me for decades.
I have another client who has been able to reduce her headaches from three times per week to once or twice per month after getting into a monthly massage routine. And a dentist client who had disturbingly- painful, career- threatening elbow pain and finger numbness who is nearly symptom free.
Managing stress is a huge component of optimizing our health and well-being. Most of us regularly partake of activities or substances that are less than ideal for our bodies. Most of us are pulled in a thousand different directions at a hundred miles an hour, coasting on too little sleep. We have overstimulated fight, flight, or freeze responses and repetitive movement patterns that create wear and tear on our joints. Rather than succumbing to the natural results of these imbalances, we can take action to counteract them.
It’s never too late to start returning to wellness. Every journey begins with the first step.
I’m noticing a lot of educators feeling burned out as the school year draws to a close. While they face different challenges than I do, the route to wellness follows the same general direction. Keeping one’s energy up requires a multi-pronged approach: refill positive energy, plug energy leaks, and release negative energy. I put together a list of easy strategies that you might find helpful.
Doing these practices throughout the year will help build up your life force energy, and therefore overall health and happiness. Doing them during a time of acute stress can protect mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As a proponent of alternative and complementary therapies, I’ve explored holistic techniques for protecting my health over the past two decades and strive to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to stress management.
Get out into nature (trees and running water are ideal, but an urban park is a good substitute if that’s what’s available to you) and put your bare feet on the earth. Google “grounding” or “earthing” if interested in the reasoning.
Soak in epsom salt baths with pure lavender essential oil.
Consistently eat quality protein. Humanely raised grass fed beef or pasture raised chicken and eggs. Humus. Organic nuts. Yes, it’s expensive; you are worth it.
Reduce intake of refined sugar. Seriously- this is so helpful! Paleo desserts are pretty yummy and satisfy my sweet tooth without crashing my blood sugar or triggering inflammation like traditional desserts do.
Unplug. As much as possible, take a break from all electronics- especially 30 minutes before bedtime.
Practice pranayama/ breath exercise. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold breath in for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 8. Trick your brain into thinking you’re relaxed.
When spending a marathon day doing desk work, take dance breaks. A friend who recently survived a PhD acquisition turned me onto the Pomodoro technique, a time management method which breaks work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. During the break intervals, I like to get up and move my body.
Get Reiki and/or massage from someone who is not burned out! Allow a professional to help you recharge your batteries.
What techniques do you use to help manage intense stress and prevent burnout? I’m always interested in learning new tricks!
I’ve spent the past 34 years exploring strategies to avoid pain. Over time I’ve come to recognize that the debilitating back pain I experienced for the first time in eighth grade was a blessing as it led me down the path of holistic wellness, alternative and complementary medicine, and body-mind-spirit healing. I’ve learned how to prevent discomfort in my own body and have spent 15 years helping my clients do the same. All without relying on numbing symptoms with pharmaceuticals.
Last month I took a workshop, Positional Release for Chronic Pain, with Lee Albert. His teachings are very much aligned with my own beliefs and experiences. In fact, he didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know; rather he validated many vague concepts that had yet to been given shape and structure in my mind. I’m thrilled to have some new tools both for myself and for my clients.
Today I received an email that Lee is going to be participating in a NO cost online series of 20 experts in the field of holistic healing. “Isn’t it time to find out what options are available so you can get your quality of life back and start living the life you deserve?” is the invitation from his newsletter. If you want to experience something different than what you currently are experiencing, it’s necessary to DO something different. Perhaps one of these speakers will have the key that fits your lock.
The summit begins May 14. You can register here. Pain is a message that something is out of balance. Learning to decode the message and correct the imbalance is very often possible with the help of alternative, holistic therapies. I’ve found tremendous relief through yoga, meditation, prayer, contemplation, nutrition, plant medicine, Swedish massage, and Reiki. When I stick to my regime, the chronic back pain that plagued me throughout my youth is but a memory. If there’s a chance that yours could be too, wouldn’t you want to find out?
Today my Reiki students helped me name this extremely useful position. Beach pose! It’s a powerful complimentary and alternative medicine and holistic therapy remedy for a wide variety of common complaints that arise from less than ideal posture.
It’s my number one recommendation for people who suffer from headaches or neck pain, work at a computer all day, or do massage or any other activity with the arms forward (pretty much everything, right?!). When there’s only time for one hand position for applying Reiki, this is a good choice. If you have just 3-5 minutes, put yourself in this position, and invite the healing energy to flow. The results are instantaneous and potent.
There are benefits available to those who haven’t been trained in the magical powers of energy healing. This pose is a slight, gentle backbend; a counterpose to computer slump. It reverses the forward hunching, chin jutting position many of us find ourselves in when sitting at a desk behind a keyboard. It opens the chest and throat, encouraging respiration and circulation, and lengthens contracted muscles in the chest and neck.
But that’s not all! It puts the upper trapezius into slack, counteracting its habitual overstretched position and offering an invitation for this poor, overworked, unbelievably tight muscle to reset. Taking the strain off of a muscle that has been locked in an overstretched position not only relieves pain, but stimulates a physiological healing response. This technique is called positional release; it is super gentle and incredibly potent. Just like Reiki!
Wait, there’s more! Placing the body in this relaxed, confident posture sends a signal to the brain that all is well. Clearly we are safe and secure if we are willing to expose our vulnerable belly and throat. Add a few deep breaths, and now we’re triggering the relaxation response, feel good brain chemistry, and decreased blood pressure. All from lounging in a chair, wherever we may be, in the middle of the day! Just a few minutes can initiate a cascading effect of relaxation, which promotes productivity, focus, and pain relief. And the only side effect is a better mood. 🙂
The modification for someone with a shoulder injury that prevents the hands from going behind the head would be the Scarlet O’Hara pose, with the back of the wrist to the forehead. Switching sides after two minutes allows for equal shoulder release. If that’s too much for the shoulders, simply broadening the collarbones and looking up ever so slightly can do the job.
I call this strategy “stacking practices”. Accomplishing multiple goals with one action is the opposite of multi-tasking. Beach pose can positively affect the nervous, glandular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, energetic, and emotional systems simultaneously. It fits in with my model of working smarter, not harder and addressing the root issue rather than attacking the symptoms. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!