Conquer Meniere’s Disease with Supplements

Your body needs key nutrients to maintain optimal health. This is even more true while you’re healing. At a minimum, you need to take a daily multi vitamin to meet basic nutritional requirements. You need antioxidants along with basic vitamins and minerals.

There are also supplements you can take above and beyond basic vitamins. When used wisely, herbal supplements can be a key part of maintaining good health naturally. I use valerian root to help me sleep when travelling to different time zones. I also load up on astragulus and echinacea at the first signs of a cold to reduce its duration or eliminate it altogether. If I get a sunburn, I apply aloe vera to the burn for soothing relief. Herbs are something that I use regularly to maintain good health.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the regimen that John of Ohio posted to the internet was an important key in controlling my Meniere’s symptoms. John outlines a couple of principles on which his suggestions are based. The first is that Meniere’s disease symptoms are caused by decreased circulation in the inner ear. John’s posting pointed out three supplements that I started taking that had a dramatic effect on my health. Those three supplements were ginkgo biloba, vinpocetine, and lemon bioflavonoids.

While taking health supplements is quite popular, finding a reliable source of information about them and the supplements themselves can often prove challenging. Relying on the advice of a neighbor or random promotional web page is not the best strategy when managing important health issues.

The government has not done much to regulate the quality of health supplements. The Federal Drug Administration oversees drug companies closely to ensure the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs. Companies that sell herbal supplements are not held to the same high standards. The end result is that there are plenty of pricey, ineffective products in that industry. Do some research before you go to the pharmacy or natural food store and you will meet with more success. Here are a few points to consider.

o Herbs come in different forms. Different forms produce different levels of effectiveness. The effectiveness of a supplement can be diminished by oxidation. Those forms that allow the least exposure to air typically lose their potency slower.

o Solid and Liquid extracts: These are a good choice as they are stable and preserve their potency for a long time.

o Tinctures: These are alcoholic extracts. They are usually prepared by adding them to a water-ethanol mixture and then letting it stand for a few weeks. They can be more effective with people that have digestive problems.

o Teas: These are brewed from dried herbs that can deteriorate quickly. Follow the expiration dates closely.

o Bulk herbs: these can deteriorate quickly. While they can be cheap and convenient, they are not recommended

o Powered herbs: These are ground dried herbs put into capsules. Grinding them up increases the surface area of the herb, thus increasing oxidation. They can lose their potency faster than other forms.

  • Buy from a reputable source. If you do not have your own trusted herbalist, buy from a large, reputable company.
  • Follow directions closely. Some people are of the opinion that if a little of something is good then a lot is much better, but you can still overdo it with supplements. Just as high amounts of vitamin A can be toxic, so can high amounts of supplements. Overdosing on Kava will cause liver damage. Treat your supplements with respect and do not take more than needed.
  • If you do have adverse reactions to something, stop taking it immediately. Start new supplements one at a time so it’s easier to isolate responses and reactions. If you started taking multiple supplements at once and you experience negative symptoms, stop taking all of them. Slowly reintroduce them into your body one at a time with a week or two between each new supplement.
  • Buy standardized products. Standardized products have been tested and proven to include the specified amount of ingredients claimed. It is not a complete guarantee of quality, but is your best bet at getting a product that is what it claims to be. Understand that the process of standardizing is done voluntarily by the manufacturer rather than by a third party. Therefore, I repeat my previous advice to buy from a reputable company.
  • When comparison-shopping, be wary of the lowest cost–especially if it is inordinately lower than the next closest competition. If the price is considerably lower and it is not part of some outrageous sale, it may not be the bargain you are looking for. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is never truer than when purchasing health supplements.
  • Make sure what you are about to buy is fresh. Always check expiration dates. This will be a key indicator of the supplement’s potency. Also, even if the supplement has not expired yet, project out as long as the bottle will take you. It if expires before all the capsules are used up, look for another bottle.
  • When comparison-shopping, take into account the dosage size. If the cost is low for a large number of capsules but the suggested dosage requires many capsules, you may not have a bargain. When comparing prices, compare the daily cost of each product.
  • If you have food allergies, make sure they are not present in what you are about to buy. Supplements may contain artificial preservatives or colorings, which may trigger allergic reactions.
  • Just like with vitamins, your body has a limit on just how much of a certain nutrient it can absorb within a specific amount of time. The more you can space out taking supplements through your day, the more each supplement will get absorbed.

Always remember the part that your physician plays in your role of getting better. Before starting out with a new regimen of supplements, you should consult your doctor.  While taking a specific supplement may be a good idea for the general public, it may not be a good ideas due to your own specific situation.

 

 

Combatting Meniere’s Disease with Acupressure

If no matter what, you cannot bring yourself to let someone poke needles into you, you may want to pursue acupressure. The goal of acupressure is also to maintain your flow of chi through the meridians, but acupuncture points are manipulated via massage rather than needles. Usually pressure is applied and then released several times depending on how tender the area is. Acupressure has an advantage over acupuncture in that you may be able to learn about the acupuncture points and with proper guidance, treat yourself. The downside to acupressure is that only one or two points can be stimulated at a time.

To give you an idea of what you can do with acupressure, view the video by Hilary Talbot on how to relieve tinnitus with acupressure.  My own acupuncturist showed me those first two points behind the head that she shows at the beginning of the video.

Hilary also has a video on acupressure to combat nausea and to combat dizziness.

That site, eHow Health,  is a cornucopia of video helps for all kinds of health issues.  For acupressure videos, visit the site and do a search for “acupressure video.”  You will be surprised at all the ailments you can treat with acupressure.  To get you started with acupressure, see this introductory video and this one on learning acupressure.

 

 

Combatting Meniere’s Disease with Acupuncture: What About the Naysayers?

In today’s age, I am still surprised to see so much resistance to traditional Chinese medicine. The truth is that there are plenty of people whose lives have been improved with acupuncture. Many people find it hard to believe because it is so different from the medical treatments they grew up with. Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years–that’s plenty of time to refine a practice.

In my life, these are the facts. I was suffering from a terrible illness. I tried the advice of doctors trained in Western medicine. Aside from the advice from one to start meditating, nothing made my situation better. In some cases, like taking Prednisone, I felt much worse. A friend pointed me to a competent acupuncturist. After two sessions with this good man, all vertigo attacks stopped. To me, this is evidence enough.

Some skeptics may hear my story and counter with an argument that I have benefitted greatly from the placebo effect. To that I say, where was the placebo affect when I tried other treatments before acupuncture? I was just as committed and motivated to being healed with all the other treatments, it just so happened that acupuncture worked and continues to work. You cannot argue with success.

I believe that the majority of non-believers have never ever tried acupuncture. Go easy on the naysayer. They have not felt your pain. They don’t know what you have gone through. A lot of the people who question the value of alternative medicine are in excellent health or have always been able to leave their conventional doctor’s office with a prescription that helps them.

I am also surprised at the response I get from family and friends who hear that I embrace acupuncture when looking to recover from a health problem. They respond with, “You actually get poked with needles?” or more negatively with comments like “A friend of my cousin once had his lungs punctured with one of those needles. It’s just not safe.” I have heard all kinds of wacky stories. There is still some bad folklore floating around out there. What disappoints me is that these “friends” are more intent on propagating these stories than being happy because I have found relief from my physical tormentor.

If you choose to try acupuncture, accept the fact that not everyone will support you or understand your decision. Naysayers may include your traditional doctor.

The truth is that those who don’t understand why someone would try acupuncture have never been in a situation where they are gravely ill and all conventional therapies can’t help. I’ve always believed that if a health practitioner does not understand your illness, seek out someone else. If your doctor does not know what causes Meniere’s disease and does not really know what brings relief, find a different doctor.

Combatting Meniere’s Disease with Acupuncture: Do the Needles Hurt?

Many folks will tell you that the acupuncture needles don’t hurt.  When I am asked if they hurt, I answer that question with “it depends.” Acupuncture pain is a function of how big the needles are and how deeply they are driven. My favorite acupuncturist uses big needles and drives them deeply. That can hurt. When I asked him about it, he mentioned that he likes to use fewer needles more effectively and feels his technique accomplishes just that. I don’t think he has put more than three needles in me at a time. Sometimes there is pain but he requires fewer visits than other acupuncturists. I have never seen him for more than two visits to help with a single occurence of a health problem.

I have seen another acupuncturist whose attitude is very different. She uses many needles, but I can honestly say that I do not feel them go in. Once during a visit, my knee started to itch while I was relaxing on the table. I reached down to scratch it and she told me to be careful not to disrupt the needles. I didn’t even know that she had put any in. I looked down and was surprised to see at least ten needles in my leg. When I visit her, the needles do not hurt. I don’t even feel them.

There are a couple of reasons why you can be poked with an acupuncture needle and it doesn’t hurt like getting a shot from your doctor. One is simply the small diameter of the needle. A hypodermic needle is much larger than an acupuncture needle because it must pass fluid through its center. An acupuncture needle is not hollow and its insertion feels quite different than that of a hypodermic needle. At the Opus Acupuncture site, you can see the relationship between the sizes of a hypodermic needle and an acupuncture needle. The second reason is that fluid is never injected through an acupuncture needle. The action of shooting fluid into your tissue causes the tissue to compress since there is no place for the fluid to go. Consequently, tissue cells and nerve endings are compressed, causing pain.

While original acupuncture needles were made of stone fragments, bones and bamboo, modern acupuncture needles are made of stainless steel. They are very thin, flexible, and some are only slightly thicker than a human hair. They vary in length from 1/2 inch to five inches. Don’t let the length of the needles scare you. Very seldom are they inserted to their full length. The short needles are used in more sensitive areas, such as face, feet and hands. The longer needles can be used in more fleshy areas like the buttocks. Because the needles are so thin, their insertion rarely causes tissue damage, bruising or bleeding. Needles are typically inserted quickly using a swift, steady hand movement. Needle insertion is a large and intensive part of an acupuncturist’s training.

These surgical stainless steel needles have the advantage that they are easily sterilized and will not rust. However, with the discovery of so many diseases transmitted through blood, most acupuncturists work with disposable needles. They are used just once and thrown away.

What to Expect when Visiting your Acupuncturist for the First Time

Your best acupuncture  treatment is based on a good diagnosis. An acupuncture diagnosis is based on the basic techniques outlined in the fourth century B.C. by Pien Chueh: listening, observing, smelling, questioning and pulse diagnosing.

On your first visit to the acupuncturist, your pulse and blood pressure will be taken. Chinese pulse diagnosis is a more complicated science than just counting heart beats detected at your wrist. A Chinese doctor may check your pulse at six different, well-defined locations on your wrists: three superficial and three deep. These pulses reflect the condition of your twelve meridians and may be compared to each other to detect an excess or deficiency.

Your acupuncturist will also visually inspect your tongue thoroughly for size, shape, color and the existence of teeth marks around the edges. A healthy tongue is pink. A pale tongue reflects a deficiency. Red or purple tongues are classified as abnormal. A tongue that is glossy and pale indicates that you are suffering from a long-standing problem. Western medicine now recognizes that some conditions such as Candida infection, anemia, or acute Streptococcal infection can be detected by the appearance of the tongue. Besides your tongue, your acupuncturist may observe your face, paying close attention to the appearance of your complexion, lips, and eyes.

You may be asked about your lifestyle and habits. Questions about your eating habits and possible sources of stress in your life are quite likely. Do you stand or sit at work? Do you eat a lot of spicy foods? Do your symptoms increase or decrease after eating? You may also get asked about your sleeping patterns. How much sleep do you get at night? What is the temperature of the room where you sleep?

Your acupuncturist will also listen to your breathing and inspect your body for tender spots. In the end, you will receive a treatment tailor-made specifically for you–more customized than a typical “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” response.

After visually inspecting you and asking questions, your acupuncturist may feel different parts of your body and may even massage different parts of your body–especially your feet. Then the needles are inserted and you will be told to relax. It seems a little strange to be told to relax when getting poked with needles, but it is just that easy. You will now have a resting period from ten to thirty minutes while the acupuncture works its magic. Sometimes needles are inserted for as little as thirty seconds, but that is an exception.

It is possible that during your rest period, your acupuncturist will use moxibustion. Moxa is the dried leaf of a plant (Atemisia vulgaris). Moxibustion is the process of warming acupuncture points by burning moxa. I have seen it done two different ways. One is that a small amount of moxa is attached to the end of an inserted needle and burned. The other is that the burning moxa is held just above your skin (about 1 1/2 inches away). The result of both methods is to transfer heat into your body at those points. I find it a very pleasing sensation and the smells of moxibustion will bring back memories of the last rock concert you attended.

After the needle is inserted, there may be additional needle movement like spinning the needle or moving the needle up and down. These movements provide additional stimulation to the acupuncture point.

You never know where the acupuncturist will need to insert needles. Leave as much skin accessible as possible. Before your visit, you may want to find out what to wear. When I go, I wear short pants, a short-sleeved shirt and sandals. That way, my acupuncturist has access to those points he needs on my arms, legs and feet. Some facilities are more like a spa, where you disrobe and cover up with a towel.

One thing that may strike you as odd is that the needles may get inserted in areas far remote from the problem area on your body. You may get a needle stuck in your foot to help you relieve your migraine headaches. It all depends on the location of the acupuncture point controlling a specific meridian associated with your disorder.

At the end of your rest period, your acupuncturist will return and remove the needles. Depending on what your diagnosis is, you may be asked to inhale or exhale during needle insertion and/or removal.

Before sending you home, your acupuncturist may ask you to take some herbs. Part of TCM is the practice of ingesting Chinese herbs. There are five different ways that herbs may be administered.

1) Pills: powered herbs are formed into hard pills

2) Powders: herbs dried and ground up

3) Decoctions: raw herbs are placed in water and then boiled. The liquid is strained off and drunk like a tea.

4) Syrups: the herbs are boiled until thick and syrupy, then sweetened with sugar or honey and taken like cough syrup.

5) Plasters: the herbs are added to heated oil and applied externally. This is typically used for skin conditions or joint and muscle pain

You may or may not choose to take herbs. I always take the herbs. I don’t believe in doing something halfway. If you are to try a new modality to cure your health woes, you should follow all the instructions completely before you are able to judge whether it works or not.

Along with the herbs, you may be given diet instruction: foods to eat, foods to avoid. You may be asked to avoid iced drinks or spicy foods or even foods high in potassium.

Acupuncture has been widely accepted for a handful of health problems like morning sickness, relief from chemotherapy, and substance addictions. I had not heard of it being used specifically for sufferers of Meniere’s disease until I read the book Acupuncture: A Viable Medical Alternative by Marie Cargill. In it, Cargill relates a case study of how she treated a man with Meniere’s disease. Through acupuncture, she was able to eliminate all the associated symptoms he had been suffering. I would highly recommend you read her book if for nothing other than her personal story in the introduction. She tells how acupuncture helped her mother. It is both a powerful and eye-opening story.

Shortly after reading that book, I saw mention of Meniere’s disease at the web site for the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. In their FAQ, the World Health Organization lists conditions to treat with acupuncture. Included in the list is Meniere’s disease (referred to as Meniere’s syndrome).

 

Combatting Meniere’s Disease with Acupuncture

Okay, so by now you have eliminated all sources of stress from your life. Right?

Yeah, yeah, I know that is impossible.  Ridding your life of stress is far easier said than done.  I am well aware of that.  That doesn’t mean that we should not try.  Greatly reducing the stresses in our life has benefits beyond purging the symptoms of Meniere’s from our lives.  It will improve our moods, increase health in all areas, and improve our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Today, I would like to address the second weapon in my arsenal to combat Meniere’s disease: acupuncture.  Acupuncture is one of those things that is not well understood and must be judged on its results.  If you can find a very good acupuncturist, it is a great tool in helping you heal from various health problems.

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been in practice for centuries. It is based on the concept that there is energy, called chi (or qi) flowing through your body. Chi (pronounced like the “chee” in “cheese”) flows in different channels called meridians. TCM purports that imbalance or stagnation in this flow is what makes us sick. Restoring balance to this flow or removing these blocks is done by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. Acupuncture uses the insertion of needles to provide that stimulation.

While chi is life force, it is not just the life force for one individual; it is universal energy. It permeates everything both animate and inanimate. Like x-rays, we cannot see chi. Chi is constantly flowing. It is taken into a body much like eating or breathing and then waste chi is eliminated. The good chi that comes in replenishes the body. Food that a nutritionist might declare as vitamin-rich, a Chinese doctor might call rich in chi. People are born with an allocation of chi and replenish it with air and food intake.

Depending on your reference, there are over 400 recognized acupuncture points and new ones are continually discovered. There are twelve major and eight extra meridians. The main acupuncture points reside on the twelve primary and two of the secondary meridians. This defines fourteen channels through which the flow of chi can be influenced.

While there are hundreds of existing acupuncture points, a small subset of those are used by a practicing acupuncturist. If you have ever seen an acupuncture point chart, it is quite impressive. It consists of a picture of a human being with acupuncture points scattered all over the body. Be assured that not all those points are used in one session, and the points accessed on your body will be determined by your condition and the symptoms you hope to address.

Acupuncture is a holistic therapy. Holistic medicine treats the patient as a whole–not just as a sum of different body parts. Consequently, seeking acupuncture relief for one ailment may result in the alleviation of other symptoms. When I had my first treatment back in 2002 for Meniere’s disease, I was also relieved of some knee pain that I had been experiencing for a year previously. It was an unexpected benefit of a holistic treatment.

TCM has a more preventative outlook than merely fixing the problem. Western medicine may just cut out an offending part when you have a problem; TCM looks more for the root of the problem and removes the cause. Again, the goal is to restore your body’s natural energy flow so that it can get on healing itself.

The advantages of acupuncture over conventional medicine are that it is cheaper and you do not suffer from the side effects of strong drugs. Powerful drugs and the trauma of surgery can have grave side effects that can take a long time to recover from. Drugs often make the cure worse than the original illness. In addition, a patient managing symptoms using drugs often must stay on those drugs for the rest of their lives, while those visiting an acupuncturist may go months and even years between visits.

In general, Chinese medicine is most effective when addressing a health problem early on. However, do not rule out TCM as an alternative or complementary therapy if you have been suffering for a long time. I had been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease for eight years before finding relief with acupuncture.

Relief via acupuncture usually comes in one of three ways. Sometimes relief comes immediately upon the removal of the needle. Sometimes effects are felt the next morning. Finally, it may take longer to feel relief; you may feel the effects gradually over numerous treatments. I seldom visit my main acupuncturist more than twice to address an ailment. Some acupuncturists require up to ten visits or more. You will need to talk with your acupuncturist to find out how long it will take before you feel relief.

In my next post, I will describe what to expect when visiting an acupuncturist.

 

 

 

Aerobic Exercise to Combat Stress

In your quest to conquer Meniere’s disease, you should consider an exercise program.

I don’t need to spend much time extolling the virtues of aerobic exercise in one’s quest to combat stress.  If you need some convincing, check out this article over at the Mayo clinic or this one stating that aerobic exercise is your best defense against stress.

I would encourage you strongly to start an aerobic exercise program if you have not already. The benefits reach much further than just stress relief; exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that give your mood a happy boost.

If you do not know where to start, take a first step…literally. Walking is free. It does not require special training, a special diet, or membership at a health club. If you are worried that you are not getting your heart rate high enough, walk faster, swing your arms, or find a route that requires going up and down hills.

Don’t wait around scheming for the perfect exercise program. Just get started today.

 

Tai Chi to Combat Stress

Tai chi is a Chines martial art. While first developed for self-defense, it has evolved into a form of exercise consisting of slow, graceful movements. Many people have adopted it as a form of stress reduction. The Mayo Clinic is one of many health organizations that has endorsed it as a method of stress management.

Tai chi is a low-impact exercise, making it appealing to people of all ages. It consists of a series of balanced postures that flow into each other smoothly. Tai chi combines slow, gentle movements with breathing and meditation. It puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, which reduces the risk of injury or muscle soreness.

Tai chi classes are easy to find, as they are popular in most city government-sponsored recreation programs, gyms and senior citizen centers.

 

Breathing Exercises to Combat Stress

Breathing is essential to life. It brings vital oxygen into our bodies. By simply stopping and taking a deep breath, we tend to slow down and relax just a bit. Stopping our harried lives and taking a sequence of deep breaths has a powerful relaxing effect on us that can combat the stressors in our lives.

On Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, he shares a great breathing exercise that he calls “The Relaxing Breath”. It is quite simple to do. Sit with your back straight and the tip of your tongue touching your gums right behind your upper front teeth. Keep it there through the duration of the exercise.

1.     Empty your lungs by exhaling completely.

2.     Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of four.

3.     Hold your breath for seven counts.

4.     Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. Empty your lungs completely.

5.     Repeat steps 2-4 three more times for a total count of four cycles.

While doing “The Relaxing Breath” you should always inhale quietly through your nose but loudly through your mouth. The 4:7:8-count ratio is the key to this exercise. It doesn’t matter how long you stay in each phase—just that you maintain that ratio. If you have trouble holding your breath in step three, speed up your count but make sure and keep that 4:7:8 ratio. With time, you will be able to hold your breath longer and your inhalations and exhalations will get deeper. This breathing exercise has subtle effects initially but they become more powerful over time.

For more breathing exercises, see Dr. Weil’s book, Spontaneous Healing.

 

Meditation to Combat Stress

If the truth were told, I am not really the yogi-climb-to-the-top-of-the-mountain-to-be-at-one-with-the-universe kind of guy. I do not know any monks and I’ve never been in a monastery. However, I would also have to say that if I were in total control of how I spend my time, I would choose not to spend it curled up vomiting in a corner of a dark room while everyone else is partying. It’s funny how life can teach you the lessons you need to learn, especially at times you do not wish to learn them.

As I mentioned before, meditation was a big help in driving Meniere’s disease into remission the first time I battled it. My first introduction to meditation was through the book The Relaxation Response. Back in 1975, The Relaxation Response was a revolutionary book by Doctor Herbert Benson. He has championed meditation for decades and has continued his studies and written a number of books; his most recent title, released in 2010, is called The Relaxation Revolution.

Dr. Benson starts out The Relaxation Response by addressing the hypertension epidemic and discussing how this condition is brought on by chronic stress.

Humans have an inborn response to stressful situations. This is known as the fight-or-flight response. When invoked, the fight-or-flight response causes our blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate to increase. Our bodies prepare us for conflict or escape. Long ago, this response was beneficial. Today, it can be detrimental. If the fight-or-flight response is elicited repeatedly, it may lead to serious problems like heart attack or stroke.

Studies have shown that meditation can lower blood pressure. Meditation causes the body to enter a hypometabolic state. In this state, the body experiences lower oxygen consumption, lower heart rate, and lower blood lactate. This is known as the relaxation response.

The relaxation response causes the body to act in direction opposition to the fight-or-flight response. Regular use of the relaxation response will offset the harmful effects of the fight-or-flight response

The physiological changes that happen during the relaxation response are not unique to a specific type of meditation. There are, however, four basic requirements to eliciting the relaxation response:

  • A quiet environment
  • An object or word to focus on
  • A passive, indifferent attitude (this is the most important factor)
  • A comfortable position

 

The suggested technique from The Relaxation Response is:

1)     Choose a word to repeat. You might choose something like heal or calm. Doctor Benson suggests one.

2)      Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

3)      Close your eyes.

4)      Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.

5)     Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say your word silently to yourself. For example, breathe IN OUT, “ONE”, IN OUT, “ONE”, etc. Breathe easily and naturally.

6)    Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes open. Do not stand up for a few minutes.

7)    Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling on them and return to repeating “ONE” or your word of choice. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive process seem to interfere with the elicitation of the relaxation response.

Everyone experiences slightly different feelings in their relaxation response. Most people experience a sense of calm and deep relaxation. A few people experience ecstatic feelings. Some have felt very little change. Regardless of the feelings you detect, those who elicit the relaxation response experience physiological changes that may be hard to identify right away.

Anyone can elicit the relaxation response. It requires no formal education or specific aptitude. There is no one way to elicit the response, but you do need the four basic elements intact to create what we might think of as a good “relaxation environment”. You may choose to change your focus word from “one” to something that is more natural or meaningful to you.

While meditation can produce dramatic turnarounds in illness, it is even more valuable as a preventative measure.

There are all kinds of methods of meditation. Most of the methods have the same three basic steps:

1) Focus on an object (often it is the breath).

2) When your focus drifts from that object, quickly and gently bring your attention back.

3) Let go of any sensations or thoughts that come up during your meditation practice. Even if you suddenly have a wonderful thought — a great solution to a nagging problem or a daydream that transports you to a warm beach — try to let those thoughts go, too. Just focus on your object or chosen word and keep bringing your mind back to it.

The first thing that beginning meditators learn is that it is very hard to think of nothing. Your mind is always buzzing about something. That is its job–to think about stuff. They also learn that they cannot focus on only one object for very long. It takes time and practice. However, the ability to focus comes with patience and repeated practice.

Relaxing when suffering from Meniere’s symptoms seems counter-intuitive. It is far easier said than done. Just start and take it one step at a time. As you practice your meditation technique daily, relaxation will come easier and easier.  If starting out at 20 minutes turns out to be too long, start with 10.  Slowly work your way up to 20 minutes.