Category Archives: Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Pain

My family gathered together last week to celebrate a wedding. I was excited to see my brother who has kids around the same age as my own because the last time we saw them a little over 3 years ago they had so much fun together. When I first saw my brother he looked exhausted and he was uncharacteristically quiet. It took me awhile to realize it was because he was in quite a bit of pain. He did a pretty good job of pushing through and hiding it but I saw him wince several times. On the second to last day before he went home we got to talking about what was going on, a chronic pain that was at times very debilitating was affecting pretty much every aspect of his life. Many days he couldn’t even get his socks on without help and while he was skiing still it wasn’t much fun and many times he could hardly walk after. The pain had been going on for over 3 years. He was hesitant to go to a doctor and he didn’t really know what else to do. His wife was massaging the area and feeding him nutritious foods but it was barely taking the edge off and he had kind of resigned himself to this just being the way it was going to be.

I offered acupuncture, my mom in her gentle pushy manner basically told him to sit down and do it. He was nervous about the needles, even swabbing the points seemed to send him through an anticipatory roof. He howled in pain when I gently put the needles in, one point in particular was really intense for him. I chuckled trying to lighten the mood telling him that many people who do acupuncture regularly would have said to that intense point, “oh I must have really needed that one!” The humor was lost on him in the moment so I also explained the points closer to the hands and feet is where the nervous system changes from motor to sensory so by needling these points it signals to the brain to make a change faster than simply putting needles in to the affected area. . It wasn’t quite a relaxing environment, kids running around, people eating dinner etc. He called to have the one point adjusted and I did and he felt some relief. Twenty minutes later I took the needles out. His face didn’t look so tired and for the first time all weekend he was the chatterbox he usually is. “I don’t know what you did but my hip feels a lot looser.” and “That one point really hurt but I kind of want you to do it again.” His movements were a little more graceful and his posture had improved.

We saw him again the next day and he was feeling much better. He was apprehensive about doing another treatment because of the intensity of the day before. I explained that in Chinese Medicine pain is called an obstruction. The points felt so sensitive because they had been blocked for so long. That powerful sensation he felt is called “da qi” in Chinese. It means the arrival of qi. Basically energetically blood and qi flow were not moving which was causing a build up of heat and pain in the hip, low back and groin. When da qi happened it opened the blocked channels allowing the body to use its resources to heal bringing fresh blood flow to the area. Finally after a few hours he mustered up the courage for another treatment. It was very similar to the one before. He was bracing himself for that strong sensation again and he barely felt it. He was able to relax much more this treatment and when he went to leave it was the first time in I can’t even remember that he was able to stand up straight. His movements were fluid instead of guarded and cautious.

It was an incredible example of the healing power of acupuncture. Acupuncture is simple medicine, many times referred to as ‘barefoot medicine” (I was in my socks for both treatments). Our bodies are quite good at keeping us alive but many times the efficiency of this skill leaves us functioning less than optimally. Acupuncture is like a reset to say ok we don’t have to just get by we can tap into our healing reserves and thrive. This is why people notice a boost in energy, a better night’s sleep, better digestion, better mood etc after a treatment regardless of what their main complaint is.

I wanted to share this story because pain is especially isolating. Three years is a long time to barely get by, be exhausted by pain and not know what is wrong or where to go to not just get pain relief but allow for the body to heal and get back to an active lifestyle that he enjoys. The thing is, is that acupuncture is not an either/or. Acupuncture is a yes and medicine. You don’t have to choose between acupuncture and western medicine practices. You don’t even have to choose between acupuncture and other modalities like chiropractic, massage, etc. Many times incorporating acupuncture into your healing plan is the missing piece to get off whatever plateau you’ve been on in your healing. And its important to note that acupuncture was intended to be a medicine of prevention. You don’t have to wait for something to go wrong to benefit. Many people use acupuncture as a way to manage life’s stressors on a weekly, monthly or seasonal routine.

Has acupuncture helped you? I would love to hear your stories too. Share them here or on facebook. ūüôā

Winter is NOT the time to lose weight

My husband was all set to invest in some reset program. Its that time of year, a few holidays of rich foods and a tighter waist band and we find this need to look for something outside of ourselves to look or feel a certain way. Maybe the problem isn’t us, maybe the problem is marketing.

We started talking about a better plan, instead of investing $200 into powders and bars that sounded a lot like torture (to me) into whole food, real food, the kind of food ¬†that doesn’t last very long because its alive. I started thinking about Laura Ingalls. What would they be eating right now in the dead of winter? Vegetables that could be stored, squashes, potatoes, beans, apples and wild game that could be hunted. Winter is comfort food season. Quite honestly this is not the time to lose weight, its the time to hold on for warmth! The best we can do right now is to stay away from sugar and eat warm, slow cooked, from scratch foods. We decided to add the kind of foods into our lives that we wanted to be eating and allow the ones we want to avoid like christmas cookies to naturally fall away from our palate. There’s only so much you can eat in a day and by focusing on more plant based foods like vegetables our bodies are nourished and will be less likely to be searching for sugar fixes. I looked all over for smoothie recipes that felt balanced enough for the cold weather and everything I looked at felt too much like summer. So my plan is to make up some sipping vegetable stock and chicken stock when I’m craving a cup of tea in the afternoon to drink instead. I’ll share the recipe once I’ve gotten it down.

If you want to understand how acupuncture helps with weight loss I wrote a series awhile back if you want to take a look, just wait to use the principles until the spring when its what your body is looking to do. ūüėČ

Acupuncture for Weight Loss Part 1

Acupuncture for Weight Loss Part 2

Acupuncture for Weight Loss Part 3

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Check back for winter recipes and join me for the next Yogapuncture for Winter if you want to learn more about connecting to the seasons. Our lunch today was inspired by this complete nourishing winter bowl, I added some green curry it was warm and delicious devoid of deprivation of any kind.


What is the Seasonal Self Care Class?

I have been refining this collection of information for over 10 years, it began as my thesis on Chinese Medicine and the seasons and then one day at the beach the idea to incorporate yoga with the seasons and meridians hit me. It seems everyone I talk to about the concepts of Chinese Medicine asks where can I read a book about all of this. I’ve never found one that I felt was a simple introduction to the concepts of acupuncture that a lay person could understand and use in their daily life.

It is my intention for this ongoing class to be a way to learn and understand these concepts not only intellectually but also as an experience that can be applied to your daily life.

The ancient doctors’ job of their community was keeping people healthy; if someone got sick they had to pay their patient because they had not done their job correctly. This system was born out of prevention, to sustain a healthy life to the age of 100. It is also a system based on observation because of this it is easy to find contradictions because teachers may have made conflicting observations and passed those on to their students. They honored all ways of practicing as each way served a purpose or had a value even if a different or better way was later discovered. Sometimes these are simply cultural. For example, in China they prefer thicker gauged needles and they manipulate the needles until a strong sensation is felt, in Japan thin gauged needles are barely inserted into the skin, Korean acupuncture uses a hand system, some acupuncturists prefer to only use a method of acupuncture in the ear. The most fascinating part is that all of these systems work and it is also why acupuncture can be so hard to do clinical controlled studies on because they may think they are doing sham acupuncture when they may just be using an unknown system.


With that being said the idea and concepts discussed should never be taken at face value. They are simply points to consider. It’s up to you to be your own advocate in your body and find what makes you feel most whole. Not all ideas will work at all times and each season will be different just like we have mild winters and long winters. Some days are rainy or sunny or foggy. Taking on small bits of information and making small changes over time can add up to a lifestyle of wellness.

In school whether its grade school, high school, college etc. we study the body by systems. When do we put all of these systems back together to understand how the body functions as a whole?

Do we understand what a whole, healthy body feels like?

The body has the amazing capacity not only to maintain homeostasis but to remain in the present moment. What most people might not understand is how choices impact this. For example, the body’s¬†ph¬†is 7.34 and no matter what we do it will strive to stay here as long as we are alive. For example, if you drink a coke which is very acidic (somewhere around a 2) the body will compensate to keep homeostasis by leaching calcium out of the bones. One coke might not change the body, however, overtime all of that compensation could lead to many problems from muscle cramping to osteoporosis.

So how do we find balance in our lives? Perhaps we should learn a lesson from our bodies. In order to maintain homeostasis in the moment the body compensates after drinking that coke and borrows some calcium. It doesn’t consider the detrimental effect this loss of calcium will have long term- it is trying to survive in the present moment. The easy answer then is, if we stay present in this moment, the future is planned for.

Let’s talk about balance. What does the concept of balance look like to you? Perhaps an image of a judicial scale comes to mind. This idea is very static and rigid, life most times is not. I’d like for you to consider the idea of harmony. This concept is more fluid. The idea of Chinese Medicine is that each system supports the next and they all work together to keep the body healthy.

If a disharmony occurs it¬†doesn’t¬†happen in isolation to one organ system- the entire body is impacted, emotions are impacted, the individual’s life and all those a part of it are impacted. Kind of like that saying, “If mom’s not happy, ain’t no body happy.” To find harmony we need to look at what caused the dis-harmony. As the body becomes healthier all areas become healthier. It‚Äôs a domino effect in the right direction.


So where do we start? With awareness. A teacher once told me, awareness precedes change. First we have to know how we feel, what we are doing and then we can make changes if necessary. Small, realistic changes over time have the deepest impact and longest results.


Take some time to think about your day from turning the alarm clock off, showering, eating breakfast (if you ate breakfast), driving to work, tending to your family, phone calls, emails, going to the bathroom etc etc. As you are thinking about your day notice your body, notice your breath. How does your life feel in your body? How is your body compromising to maintain homeostasis? Are you bracing your body with tight muscles? Holding your breath?


You might imagine how over time this un-awareness of how your body manages your day can contribute to disharmony in the body, in relationships, in the very activities that we enjoy.

With that in mind, could you use a little more energy to use during your day?


In Chinese Medicine it is believed we get our energy from 2 places: our parents and our lifestyle. There’s not much we can do about our parents. The rest of the equation we have a little more control over.¬†Da¬†Qi¬†+¬†Gu¬†Qi¬†=¬†Zhen¬†Qi. What in the world does that mean? How you breathe and how/what you eat contributes to how much usable energy you have and how good you feel.


Da Qi: The Breath

The yogis believed we have a certain number of breaths to live, so they practice slow, deep, mindful breathing. An easy way to shut off fight/flight (stress!) is to exhale deeper than your inhale. This will not only calm you it will help tone your abdominal muscles strengthening your core and lower back in addition to taking stress off of the neck and shoulders. When you can, take a moment to check in with your breathing or take one or two deep breaths for a quick time out in the middle of a stress filled moment. You might end your day with some deep breaths as well to drift off into more restful sleep.

Breath is the mirror of the mind. Here are some examples of what happens to our breath on a day to day basis:


  • Fear- gasping for air
  • Resisting something- hold the breath
  • Anger- short jerky, incomplete breaths
  • Fatigue- long inhales through the mouth. Yawn

For optimal health, breathing should be performed nasally and should be full and rhythmic. The breath should come in through the nose and out through the nose. The nose is anatomically designed to filter and warm the air for the lungs, therefore try to use it as nature intended.

Gu Qi: Food

There are gobs of information on what you should and shouldn’t be eating.¬†Alot¬†of it can be confusing as many ideas are contradictory. One thing just about everyone agrees on is that¬†Twinkies¬†will never be a “superfood”. I tell my patients to eat food that is alive. Anything that can live longer than you can on a shelf try to avoid. The best thing you can do when you eat, whatever it is that you eat is to eat with awareness. Don’t multitask when you eat! The spleen/stomach controls digestion and is damaged by¬†overthinking. If you are answering emails while munching you could be setting yourself up for digestive problems, period issues, obsessive thinking and not to mention overeating.

Zhen Qi= True Energy

Your true energy is the combination of your genetics and your lifestyle (air and food). TCM believes that your lifestyle is most important of these two forces because it is constantly being replenished. Our genes are our genes but our role in what we eat, how we breathe and move can have a huge impact on what genes manifest. Due to the changes in our environment each season our lifestyle can modify to adjust accordingly. There is a time to expend energy and a time to conserve. When we follow the flow of nature our bodies can function most optimally.

The gist of¬†TCM¬†is to keep harmony in the body by keeping the circulation of blood and energy flowing unimpeded. When blockages happen this causes the body to not be able to function as optimally as it can which can eventually affect¬†every part of the body. Acupuncture can be a gateway to¬†awareness. It literally forces you to be still for a while. After treatments most people feel better, “cleaned out,” energized and relaxed. With this new awareness they naturally start to make other changes in how they respond to situations that used to “stress them out.”

A bit about what acupuncture feels like

Many people are surprised how painless acupuncture is. Occasionally you might feel a quick pinch or electrical sensation that you might think about longer than you actually feel, this sensation is called ‚Äúda qi‚ÄĚ and basically means we woke up some stagnation and got energy flowing there again. If anything feels uncomfortable for longer than 30 seconds or so ask for needles to be adjusted. Once needles are in, your body may feel heavy/weighed down or light/floating or both sensations at once. Sometimes awareness can rest on a couple of needles like they are “talking” to each other and then change to another group of needles, sometimes you might swear there is a needle where you know there is not, we call this a phantom needle. It is opening up a pathway. Sometimes acupuncture points can feel really achy or itchy, this is all within the realm of normal and will subside during the treatment. A treatment can make some sleepy and others alert, the needles are tapping into your body’s healing resources for what is needed now. Each treatment can be a different experience. Because acupuncture addresses the body as a whole positive “side effects” can include more energy, better quality sleep, improved digestion and a more even mood.

When acupuncture is practiced in a group setting the effects are magnified. This happens because of entrainment. Basically everyone is on the same wave length and so deeper relaxation can occur. My teacher once said that needles are like antennas pulling universal qi/energy into the body. When a group receives acupuncture together more energy is harnessed.

A bit on yoga

The systems of Yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine are very similar, sometimes referred to as sister medicine with the Himalayan Mountains being their only divide. In the West we have picked a part these systems and taken pieces when in actuality they are both parts of bigger systems. While we won’t get into all of the specifics of these systems I wanted to address the nature of the yoga postures that will be demonstrated/preformed in class. There are over 84,000 yoga postures and chances are there will be some that just about any body can do. I choose to find postures that are simple and effective in nature so that you can feel confident in developing a home practice free of injury or over thinking. Looking like a picture of a yogi on a beach in a pretzel like posture is not necessary to receive the benefits of this practice. Whether you’ve never done yoga or you have been practicing for a long time it is my hope that you will find these sequences of postures for each season beneficial. Postures should be comfortable to get in and out of, free of pain that you can easily breathe through. Yoga means to unite the breath with the body so it is essential that we breathe during our postures to receive the intended benefit of each pose. It is often said if you’re not breathing, you’re not doing yoga.

Each yogapuncture class includes a short lecture on Chinese medicine and how it relates to what is happening environmentally/seasonally. Yoga postures are tailored to the current season and are accessible to beginning and seasoned students. Class ends with a seasonal acupuncture treatment.

Winter is the time of Kidney/Urinary Bladder system, the emotion of fear and coldness. We will explore these concepts with restorative postures to fortify our constitution, build endurance, peace and will power during this time of inner reflection, reverence and rest.

Spring is the time of Liver/Gall Bladder system, the emotion of anger and wind. We will discuss spring cleaning/cleanses, anger and courage.

Summer is the time of the Heart/Small Intestine system, the emotion of joy and heat. We will discuss how to harness the abundant energy of the season and how to not “burn the candle at both ends.”

Late Summer is the time of the Spleen/Stomach system, the emotion of worry and dampness. The spleen/stomach is related to all times of transition/transformation and is present in each season.

Autumn is the time of the Lung/Large Intestine system, the emotion of grief and dryness. This is a period of starting to turn inward.

Each seasonal self care class is unique!

Acupressure for Morning Sickness

If you are pregnant and suffering from nausea or vomiting seriously consider giving acupuncture a try. It can offer serious relief with no negative side effects.

From The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Debra Betts,

Research by Smith et al (2002) involving 596 women confirmed the benefits of acupuncture by concluding that acupuncture for nausea was safe and effective treatment for early pregnancy. This was an interesting study as women who received a traditional Chinese diagnosis and treatment had better outcomes than those receiving needling at PC6(the seasick/nausea point) only.

Acupressure is a nice simple DIY way to treat yourself. The only real difference between acupuncture and acupressure is the tool used to stimulate the point. While needles can be retained for 20-60 minutes and offer continuous pressure to several points at once acupressure usually involves stimulating one or two points at a time for one to three minutes using finger pressure. Acupressure can also be done using what are called vaccaria seeds, sometimes refered to as ear seeds. These seeds are held in place by an adhesive and are usually used after an acupuncture treatment to help the treatment last longer.

If you’ve tried the sea bands or massaging the nausea point, PC6 on the inner wrist and didn’t find much relief here are 2 other points to try that many women have found helpful.


located just below the collar bone approximately 3 finger breadths from the sternum. Feel for a divet or tender spot and hold for 1-3 minutes.

located just below the collar bone approximately 3 finger breadths from the sternum. Feel for a hollow or tender spot and hold for 1-3 minutes.

Often times this can offer immediate relief especially if you are overcome with an episode of nausea or feel like you could throw up.


Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes as well.

Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes as well.

This point is also an useful points for insomnia, prolapse of the uterus, constipation, frequency of urination and sore throat and can be used at any point during pregnancy.

Give it a try and let me know how it helps. Need some acupuncture? I can help with that too. ūüôā






New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 3

Today’s blog is the 3rd in the series Acupuncture and Weight Loss.
Today’s focus is, What is the emotional component of your extra weight?
Acupuncture can help build new pathways in your body to maintain harmony. Its important to remember that acupuncture is subtle and it can be easy for your mind to override your new found health.
Sometimes weight troubles can be linked back to a personal experience. Or you might feel, even subconsciously that if you stay heavier that you’re off the radar and people won’t expect much from you.
Your “Chinese” emotions play a role in your weight loss goals.
Anger: bottling up anger or resentment causes the liver qi to stagnate. The longer this stagnation continues the more phlegm can build up in the body. Excess weight in Chinese Medicine is considered dampness or damp-phlegm. Its important to remember that each emotion is necessary, its the expression that counts. If you find yourself easily irritated try exercises to let your anger go. Here are three of my favorite.
>> The wood chopper: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance with a soft knees. Clasp your hands together. Take a deep inhale through your nose and raise your clasped hands over your head. Exhale powerfully out through your mouth and “chop the wood” bringing your clasped hands through your legs. (Keeping a soft bend in your knees as you do this will protect your back) Do this yoga posture mindfully letting your breathe move you slowly. Try 5-10 reps and then slowly stand for a moment and notice how you feel.
>> Try yelling at the top of your lungs. No, not at someone. If you’ve had a stressful day take a minute when you’re in your car and let out a good scream. (make sure no one is around you) Think about the last time you screamed out loud, it might not has been since childhood. Let it go.
>> Go for a skip or a gallop. Its hard to stay angry and skip at the same time. Not only that but movement increases the circulation which will keep liver qi stagnation at bay.
Fear: If fear is a part of your excess weight (fear of acceptance, rejection, not being good enough) this can tax your kidneys. The kidneys regulate the water passage ways in your body and control your low back and libido. If you hold onto fear you may also hold on to extra weight for a false sense of security. Acupuncture can help release these fears and boost your confidence.
>> Try positive affirmations like, “I love myself just the way I am.” Say it as many times as you can through out the day.
Worry/Overthinking: If you’re always concerned with what other people think of you or are an incessant worrier this can cause your spleen to work overtime and your body to produce dampness in the body which will in turn increase your sweet tooth and decrease your digestive function. Focus on getting healthy for you and only you.
>> A spleen diet is one full of simple foods that are not overly seasoned. Quinoa, barley, and rice help to nourish the digestive system and drain dampness out of the body. Look for full sweet flavored foods to combat your sweet tooth with foods like sweet potatoes and other yellow root vegetables.
>> Remember the phrase, “clean house, clean mind.” If your thoughts are on overdrive take a look around your living or work space. If its full of clutter take some time to clean it up and get rid of things that are broken or you are no longer using. Donate items that might be beneficial to others. You might just notice feeling lighter or cleaner in your body or mind after your environment goes through a cleaning transformation.
Ultimately you have to love yourself where you are at in this present moment. If you aren’t happy with who you are right now losing weight won’t change that. There will always be 5 more pounds to go or a firmer this or that. You don’t love the people in your life less or more based on their weight or appearance. Use the same compassion for yourself as you would for those you love.

New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 2

When doing acupuncture for weight loss it is important to remember that this is a process. Your chance of lasting success depends on a slower transition. In this way your new habits will become second nature, rather than an overnight deprivation of everything you are used to. In Chinese Medicine we would call this bringing the body into harmony, rather than creating an imbalance in the opposite direction.
In this blog we will talk about food as medicine and your role in your health.
When I was at The Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine their research of acupuncture for weight loss showed that for some people weight loss happened right away and for others first their body had to get healthier and then the weight loss happened. In a world full of processed and artificial foods and stress I would argue that the latter is more true for most Americans who want to achieve lasting weight loss results.
In the 8 branches of Chinese Medicine food is seen as the first medicine and every tool after this should be seen as a supplement. Please don’t be fooled. Acupuncture can help you lose weight but if you are not willing to make changes in the lifestyle that allowed you to gain weight don’t expect optimal results.
If you are using¬†Splenda¬†or any other artificial sweetener please stop now. This could be part of what is keeping your weight on. First off, did you know¬†splenda¬†was a pesticide before it was a no cal sweetener? Or how about that it turns to formaldehyde when its heated to your body temperature? You can¬†get more information onsplenda¬†and sugar substitutes here. When you use artificial foods your body doesn’t feel satisfied and this will cause you to overeat and contribute to more sugar cravings. Also,¬†splenda¬†is toxic to your body and when your body doesn’t know how to process something, especially something toxic it stores it in your body’s fat. The more toxic foods you eat the more your body will hold onto fat so it has somewhere to store all that junk.
Ditch the¬†Splenda¬†and try local honey, or natural cane sugar instead. These alternatives are natural and are super sweet so you’ll use less and feel more satisfied. Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods will have any of these. More and more regular grocery stores are carrying them now too.
The best way to stop eating junk food is to stop buying it!¬†When you do have a craving for something sweet or salty go out and buy a one portion size of whatever it is that you have a hankering for. Don’t be swayed by the buy one get one free cartons of ice cream. Its not a deal when you think of how much money you’ll ultimately spend in trying to loose the weight you gained from the ice cream. An occasional treat should be just that, a treat. So when you indulge¬†ENJOY¬†it. Savor every bite so that you’re satisfied instead of wanting more and under no circumstances feel bad about it.
Fat free and low fat is as big an enemy as Splenda for the same reasons mentioned above. You might not be aware that your body needs fat in order to lose weight. If you deprive your body of fats, especially healthy fats it will hold on to whatever fat it has even harder. Avocados, coconuts, olive oil, and fish are all great sources of healthy fats.
Find a balance between eating for energy and eating for enjoyment. You can have both but you might have to¬†re-frame¬†what kinds of foods you enjoy. For example, if every time you eat ice cream you have diarrhea maybe that’s not bringing much enjoyment to your life. Again we refer back to all of this as a process. You might not enjoy so called “healthy” foods at first as you get all that toxic crap out of your system. The beginning of this transition might be a challenge and that’s¬†ok. Find enjoyment even in this part of the process. If this feels like punishment it will never be something you stick to.
I do google searches for recipes each week. Sometimes I look for ideas to try something I’ve never eaten before (i love all sorts of ethnic dishes), other times its because the picture looks yummy. One thing that all the recipes I look for that have in common is that they do not contain dairy or fake foods like¬†splenda¬†and they are full of veggies and yes, meat but in moderation. (if you think you don’t like veggies start first with veggies you do like and go from there, over time this will change) I only shop for what I need for each of my recipes and whatever is cooked for dinner is the next day’s lunch. What I’ve found is that the food I make at home tastes more delicious than eating out and I actually spend way less on food and throw away less rotten food that was lost in the fridge. Its completely taken away the question “what’s for dinner” that usually comes up when I’m starving and don’t feel like cooking. And cooking something at home that you have all the ingredients for is just as fast as pulling through a drive-thru¬†window.
And yes, its ok to still eat out every once in a while. Find your middle path. The better you feel the more you will want to continue to feel that way and the less your old vices will have a hold on you.
Try as much as you can to eat in season. Eat produce that is growing locally. In the fall and winter months eat a little more meat, cooked veggies, soups, and stews. In the spring and supper its ok to add more raw veggies, fruits, and fish. Check on Mondays for a new recipe each week as well.

New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 1

The function of the spleen and stomach system in Chinese Medical theory is to transform and transport the food that we eat. The spleen specifically can become imbalanced from dampness either from the environment (rain, snow) or the foods that we eat (processed food, excess sugar, dairy products, greasy foods etc). Dampness is a pathogen that weighs the body down literally through extra weight and energetically through fatigue. Chinese Medicine sees excess weight as an imbalance in the body.


Think about it, if your body is overweight you have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and so on. From this point of view the goal of acupuncture is not necessarily weight loss, it is harmony. When the body is in balance it knows how to process the foods that are consumed properly so that instead of storing food that is not needed it is eliminated. According to research from the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine acupuncture is particularly useful for weight loss especially when the weight is carried around the abdomen and organs in middle aged people. Commonly people who are overweight have other imbalances such as hypertension, fatty liver, high cholesterol, menstrual or menopausal problems, stomach inflammation, constipation, or depression. Often times these other issues that may or may not seem related are actually the root cause of the weight gain. As we look at the body as a complete system the goal is to harmonize all organ systems so that the body can function most optimally. In this way the body naturally lets go of the excess weight it does not need and the effects of treatment positively impact the entire body. It is important to remember that balance is a process and being committed and consistent are key to lasting success. Weight gain does not happen over night and it is not reasonable to expect it to be lost over night either.

What you can do:
Eat breakfast and make it your largest meal of the day. The energy of the large intestine, spleen and stomach are most active in the morning. When you eat breakfast you stoke the fire of your metabolism so that your body has energy to get through the day.

Limit your intake of dairy and sweets. Dairy and empty sweet foods contribute to dampness and phlegm in the body. When the spleen is out of balance it will crave empty sweets like candy and ice cream (sweet and damp and just about the worst thing for your spleen). Yellow foods like squash as well as full sweet foods such as sweet potatoes nourish the spleen.

Don’t eat after 8:00pm. Your stomach should be finished with digestion when you go to sleep at night. In this way your body can use this time of rest to repair and rejuvenate instead of multitasking. Also, your stomach will be empty in the morning and ready for breakfast, making it easier to wake up.

Move your body everyday. For many people exercise is a dirty word, so change your language! Move your body a little bit every day in whatever way gives you joy. Talk a walk or a yoga class, dance while you‚Äôre cooking dinner, skip from your parking spot to the entrance of the grocery store, hula hoop. The more you move your body the more your body will want to move. Find a partner to keep it fun and accountable. I am doing the plank challenge right now with my sister. We have to text by 8pm everyday to say we’ve finished. We also added as many squats as seconds we are holding plank each day. Every time I get her text if I haven’t planked yet, I drop what I’m doing and get it done. If I would have done this by myself I would have already stopped by now.


“Just to let you know, I had acupuncture for six weeks for knee pain and low thyroid and noticed when I stepped on the scale I had lost 5 pounds without even trying or realizing it! That was an awesome benefit especially since I watch what I eat and workout 3 times a week and go to yoga 2 times a week and can never seem to tip the scale in my favor. I see acupuncture helping so many people. Thank you for the work you are doing to help people live a healthier life.” Joyce H

What is Your “Best”?

When the holidays started I was invited to take part in a health challenge. A maintain, don’t gain approach to being more mindful during the easiest part of the year to statistically gain weight. There were various opportunities to work out with fellow participants and support to keep you motivated. I consider myself to eat fairly well and try to take the middle approach as much as I can. (I do have a famous sweet tooth :))

I don’t know if it was the awareness of the challenge that I was paying more attention or not. I was doing fairly well, doing yoga almost nightly, getting to the gym on a regular basis etc. That was sometime in between Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas chaos. I was at one point down a few pounds which probably led me to enjoy the holidays with a little extra reckless abandonment. ūüôā I don’t know why it was shocking when somewhere between Christmas and New Years I had added an extra 5 pounds to the scale, but there it was.

Sometimes seeing the scale not tipping in favor isn’t motivation for me, sometimes its the exact opposite which can be a very slippery slope. My husband and I hit the gym around that same time and it was the first time I was doing extensive cardio in quite awhile. At one point in my life I was a cardio junkie and something has changed slowly over the years and that love affair has died or rather its been so long maybe I forgot about that love. My husband and I were side by side and agreed to go for 30 minutes. He suggested I up my speed. I could have, I could have had a certain expectation to keep a pace my pre-baby self would have expected. I told him no. I wanted to listen to my body. 30 minutes seemed like a super long time to “get through in that moment.” I did my best and when it was over it didn’t seem so bad. A few days later we were back at it and this time I felt comfortable with a higher speed and the time seemed to go faster. I was finding a groove. I landed back in the pool to swim some laps and felt stronger and was able to push myself. The next visit to the gym I was pumped to see where I could push myself on that day except a funny thing happened. I wasn’t able to do “more” laps or reps or whatever then my previous session. That’s when it hit me that my best today was just going to look different from my best did the last time. When I became ok with that the rest of my session was enjoyable.

We live in a society that is really easy to beat yourself up for every little imperfection you have. Its mindless hobby for many of us, myself included. The internet, Facebook, pinterest etc can really make one feel like everyone else really have their “sh!t together”. I wanted to share this as a reminder to look at what your best looks like in this moment and not to compare it to the last moment or the next one. And please ignore what anyone else’s best looks like for Pete’s sake!

Because post New Year’s is a time where many of us feel like it’s a good time to finally lose some weight or “get healthy” I will be sharing 3 posts over the next few days (because in this moment I have my “sh!t together and I’m seizing the moment :)) on weight loss and how it can be viewed physically, emotionally and environmentally. I wanted to share this experience first for some perspective and also to say that most people who want to know if Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help with weight loss really don’t need to lose anything. Feeling good about yourself is as much of a mindset as what a scale or the size on your jeans says.

My best today is slightly lesser because I was attending to a toddler for an hour at 3am this morning. I’m acknowledging that and being kind to myself. Will you join me in honoring your best today?

Why Having Friends is Good For Your Health

Why Having Friends is Good For Your Health

I wrote this blog a few years ago but it seemed fitting to review this Thanksgiving. ūüôā

The introduction to the book Outliers describes the tiny city ofRoseto, Pennsylvania and the work of Dr. Stewart Wolf. Wolf conducted studies on the town in the 1960s and found that virtually no one under the age of fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease while the rest of the country was undergoing an epidemic of heart disease. The death rate of men over the age of sixty five was half of what the rest of the United States was as well. Roseto’s death rates from all causes was actually 30-35% lower then expected.
Another amazing anomaly of¬†Roseto¬†was that there was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction and very little crime; no one was on welfare or had peptic ulcers. John¬†Bruhn¬†a sociologist involved in the studies stated, ‚ÄúThese people were dying of old age. That‚Äôs it.‚ÄĚ Wolf discovered that¬†Rosetans¬†were not on a special, healthier diet then other Americans either. Incredibly¬†Rosetans¬†took in 41% of their calories from fat.¬†Rosetans¬†also smoked heavily and many were overweight. Genetics also¬†didn‚Äôt seem to be a factor.
Wolf discovered that the secret to Rosetans good health was their lifestyle. They lived 3 generations to a house and respected their elders deeply. Neighbors took the time to visit with each other and went out of their way to cook meals and simply support one another. In the 1950s when the medical community was used to the paradigm that our health depended on our genes and our individual lifestyle (perhaps it still is) it was nearly mind boggling to consider how the collective impacted not only the individual but the community as well.
I was excited to read these findings and thrilled at the book¬†Outliersby Malcolm¬†Gladwell¬†(it‚Äôs an interesting read). What thrilled me most was the importance of community to our health. This is exactly the intention of Neighborhood Acupuncture Place’s¬†approach to wellness by doing acupuncture in a shared space. The ancients have always prized community as a pillar of quality life.
Our society has more access to communication in a variety of ways and yet we have less and less physical contact. We know that if a baby has all of its needs met: food, clothing and shelter with the exception of being touched enough he will die. I can‚Äôt find any evidence that suggests that the need for touch, for understanding and companionship disappears as we get older. The majority of marketing these days convinces us that we need the ‚Äúpurple pill‚ÄĚ to feel better, we own our¬†IBS¬†instead of our healthy bodies. It is through our diseases that we receive attention, feel loved and find identity. The goal of (community) acupuncture is the exact opposite. Through self awareness and a quiet space one can experience the body‚Äôs innate ability to heal itself. It is through the support of others that our health soars, as it is through supporting others that our health soars.


What is Vita Flex Acupuncture

Vita Flex Acupuncture is a new treatment offered at NAP. Consider it a flu shot alternative!

Acupuncture has been shown to have higher concentrations of white blood cells at the acu-point sites. Stimulating these points with an acupuncture needle or pressure gives a natural boost to your immune system.

Vita Flex means “vitality through the senses” and is a specialized foot massage. In this treatment 9 Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils are massaged into the spinal vita flex points of the feet to gently detox the system on a cellular level. These 9 oils (basil, thyme, oregano, cypress, marjoram, wintergreen, peppermint, aroma seiz, and valor) support both the respiratory and immune systems. These oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties.

After the oils are massaged into your feet, enjoy an immune boosting acupuncture treatment and continue to inhale the benefits of the oils applied. This treatment will continue to work in your body for up to 7 days.

Now until September 30th bring in a friend or family member that is new to NAP and get 2 vita flex acupuncture treatments for the price of one! *offer good for new patients only