Self-care tools make great gifts!

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 7.53.01 AM

I’ve updated my recommended Self-Care Tools page with current prices on Amazon. If you’re looking to give someone (or request for yourself) the best tool to ease tight shoulders, a neck cradle that relieves tension, a pillow that maintains good neck alignment for side and back sleepers, a sandal that gives you a foot massage with every step — and a few other recommendations — check them out here!

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 6.34.09 PM

I also make more extensive recommendations on my wellness blog’s page, Products I Recommend. If you’re looking for cookbooks for a healthier diet, supplements, and more general wellness books, you can check out my recommendations here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 6.34.18 PM

Treating TMJ issues: acupressure points for self-care

Recently I wrote about how acupuncture can help relieve jaw pain and the stress that often accompanies it. Today’s post is about doing acupressure on yourself for TMJ issues.

Keep in mind that if you see an acupuncturist, they will do an evaluation that may show other issues that they can address, with a focus on getting your whole system in balance.

But acupressure can help. Here’s a page by the leading expert on using acupressure, Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D., on pressure points for sinus problems, jaw, TMJ, and bruxism and includes a 4:07 video (go to 1:18 for the jaw points).

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 8.53.21 AM
Image source: acupressure.com

He recommends holding them for a couple of minutes 2-3 times a day for a few weeks or months for best results if your jaw pain is chronic. Sinus, Jaw, TMJ and Bruxism Acupressure is 4:08.

I’ve previously shared a link to Heather Wibbel’s video (3:43) showing four points to apply pressure but if you missed it, here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTKqvaY84G4

This site has good images of four points, two of which Heather covers (SI 19 and ST6), with two other points on the cranium (ST7 and GB12) that can help. https://www.bigtreehealing.com/tmj-relief-using-acupoints/

(Note: If you Google this topic, beware that not all the results are credible. I found one that pictured ST36 on the leg while describing a point on the face!)


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Treating TMJ issues: foods and nutrients that can make a difference

There are so many things you can do to relieve the stress that usually accompanies TMJ pain and dysfunction. Today I want to write about nutrients that can make a difference.

You can buy these nutrients in the form of supplements, and sometimes that’s easiest, but studies are finding that our bodies are not absorbing some of the expensive supplements we take to improve our health.

Fresh and organic foods grown in good soil make it more likely that your body will absorb and integrate these nutrients for your benefit.

You’ll want to first get your digestive system in good shape if it’s not, especially healing leaky gut issues by consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods. There’s a lot of information available online, and you can also work with a nutritionist.

On to the nutritional foods! The B-complex vitamins are 8 vitamins that often occur together in food sources. They give us energy, and stress depletes them, so when you’re stressed, you need even more B vitamins to avoid fatigue.

Clenching and grinding your teeth are signs of stress, and these habits also stress the muscles involved. Reducing stress is a key to changing the patterns that result in TMJ issues.

Note that 30-60% of people do not absorb folic acid (B9) and B12 unless they are in the methylated form, so if you’re buying a supplement, read the labels.

Best food sources: meat (especially liver), salmon, dairy, eggs, legumes, brewer’s yeast, spinach, and mushrooms.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 11.03.29 AM

Vitamin C produces collagen, which is present in the cartilage in your joints. The articular disk in your TMJ is made of cartilage, and you want to keep it healthy and undamaged. If your TMJs click or pop or crunch or otherwise make noise, this disk is at risk.

Vitamin C is also easily depleted by stress.

Best food sources: fruits like guava, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, and strawberries, and veggies like bell peppers, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin D3 helps with bone health and muscle function, decreases pain, and improves feelings of well-being. It’s an antidote to stress.

Most people (except those working outdoors with the sun shining directly on their skin without sunscreen) need to supplement to get enough, although you can get at least some of the D3 you need from sunshine. Outside peak UV hours is best, of course.

Cod liver oil is the highest food source.

Glucosamine helps preserve joint health, rebuilding cartilage (the disc between your upper and lower jaw bones is made of cartilage), lubricating joints, reducing pain, and improving range of motion. More effective than ibuprofen at reducing pain, it can also help with jaw clicking. It can take 4-8 weeks to ease pain. 

This is a nutrient that isn’t easily found in food, except for bone broth made with chicken feet, ox tails, marrow, tendons, knuckle or cartilaginous joints, or shrimp shells. If you decide to supplement, plan on taking 1500 mg daily.

Type II collagen can also help preserve cartilage. Some collagen products also contain glucosamine, so read the label if you take collagen. 

Vitamin K2 helps with calcium absorption, which strengthens bones and nerve function.

Food sources: the Japanese fermented soybean dish natto, grass-fed butter, Gouda, Edam, and Brie cheeses, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, sauerkraut, and yogurt/kefir.

Magnesium and calcium are essential minerals that many of us are deficient in. Magnesium helps with muscle function (tension causes jaw pain). Calcium helps with bones and nerve signaling.

Food sources for magnesium include leafy greens, dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and figs. If you supplement, try magnesium threonate or glycinate to bypass bowel distress. 

Food sources for calcium: sardines (with bones), yogurt or dairy kefir, raw milk, and cheese.

Omega 3s have been shown to ease pain and inflammation as effectively as ibuprofen.

Food sources: wild salmon and other fish/seafood like mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, and oysters, seaweed, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.

New research indicates that grinding during sleep and restless leg syndrome may be related and that both are signs of a dopamine deficiency. Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps your body produce more dopamine.

Good sources are beef (specifically skirt steak, so bring on the fajitas if you eat meat), lean pork chops, salmon, lean chicken breast, and firm tofu.

Do you notice some foods appearing over and over? Wild salmon, pasture-raised eggs, yogurt/kefir, sardines with bones, leafy greens, and cruciferous veggies are particularly nutrient-dense foods that you can incorporate one or more of at every meal.

As always, get the best quality food you can find and afford: grass-fed/grass-finished meat, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish, organic fruits and vegetables, hormone-free organic dairy.

Why? Because the cells in your body are constantly turning over! They die and new ones are born.

What do you think the new cells are made of? The foods and fluids you consume! The better quality of food and drink that you consume, the healthier you become.


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Treating TMJ issues: videos of self-care techniques

If you suffer from jaw pain, you may want to try some of these jaw exercises and self-massage techniques.

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 8.44.49 PM

TMJ Exercises & Stretches to Relieve Jaw Pain — Ask Dr. Jo. 3:03. Dr. Jo is a physical therapist who demonstrates four simple exercises.

TMJ Massage: Pressure Points for Relief by MassageByHeather.com. 3:43. Massage therapist Heather Wibbels shows you four acupressure points for jaw pain. You hold them bilaterally for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. If you’re looking for something you can do on an airplane without attracting too much attention, do these.

Absolute Best TMJ Treatment You Can Do Yourself for Quick Relief. 5:48. “Bob and Brad, the two most famous physical therapists on the internet” (as their theme song goes) show you how to massage your external jaw muscles.

10 Best TMJ Exercises to Stop Pain in Your Jaw. 11:57. Bob and Brad show you the standard relaxed position for your jaw along with several exercises. Start saving popsicle sticks!

TMJ Exercises #1, 11:25. Chiropractor Adam Fields demonstrates exercises for the back of the neck, which is often tight when you have TMD, tongue exercises, and massage, ending with a relaxation exercise. In TMJ Exercises #2, 10:07, he focuses on massaging the muscles that open and close your jaw. He helps you tie the jaw exercises and massage into really good posture — a good habit that will help relieve jaw tension.

Yoga to Release Jaw Tension from Grinding Teeth, Clenching, TMJ. 10:26. Karuna demonstrates self-massage to release jaw tension, including a technique you can do right before you go to sleep that may prevent clenching and grinding while asleep.

I’m interested in hearing back from you about which exercises help you the most. If you’ve found other helpful videos about TMJ self-care, please let me know.


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Post-concussion self-care

I’m getting referrals for craniosacral therapy for people who have had concussions, and I want to help these folks recover. Not knowing what a doctor may have told them but knowing how busy most doctors are, I am providing information here that may help injured brains recover more quickly. If your doctor tells you something different, listen.

People who’ve had concussions may report experiencing pain, dizziness or vertigo, balance issues, vision changes, speech problems, confusion, lack of focus, forgetfulness, nausea, sleepiness, emotional problems, and perhaps other symptoms. To be clear on the language, concussions are also called mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

To simplify, imagine your brain is like jello inside a closed container (cranium) cushioned by a thin layer of water (cerebrospinal fluid), with substantial membranes separating the major parts (hemispheres, cerebrum and cerebellum). A major impact slams the brain around inside the cranium, damaging brain tissue. Some research points to the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres, receiving the most damage from concussions. Continue reading “Post-concussion self-care”