Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Transitioning to Autumn

Transitioning to Autumn


With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.

The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.


Autumn Foods:

Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.


Vegetables to cook with:


      winter squash





      turnip greens


Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.


Sour/pungent foods to cook with:

      sourdough bread


      adzuki beans


      rosehip tea





Some find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.

Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!





“Practical Chinese Medicine” Penelope Ody

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Nourishing Transition: Eating Right for Late Summer

Nourishing Transition: Eating Right for Late Summer


Late Summer is a time of transition, when we move from the most Yang time of the year to the beginning of Yin time. The earth is preparing for its next season. The 2-3 weeks between each season is the time associated with the Earth element, and a time to ‘return to center’ to prepare for the shift. In Chinese Medicine, the Earth element correlates with the Spleen and Stomach, which are considered primarily digestive organs. Digestion, as a functional concept, represents the central axis around which everything else revolves.


We should strive for optimal digestion all year round, but these transitional times between seasons are fantastic opportunities to strengthen this ‘central axis’ by slowing down and simplifying our diet while making sure it’s as nutritious as possible. The spleen has some requests regarding what we eat. First, keep things simple. It is important to shed complexity and avoid extremes. Find your goldilocks zone when it comes to taste and temperature and quantity of food. Not too hot, not too cold, not too sweet, not too spicy, etc. and not too much food at once. Stop eating before you’re full.


In that goldilocks zone we find that warm foods are preferable. This helps to maintain that simple balance of temperature but also assists the spleen qi in maintaining the digestive fire. Excessively cold food (like ice-cold drinks or ice cream) can extinguish that essential fire and must be avoided especially during the season change. Start to transition to cooked foods if you’ve been doing more raw fruits and veggies in the summer. Warm ginger tea, bone broth and mild spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can help gently fan the flames of dying embers.


The other threat to our digestive fire are foods that are considered ‘damp’ in nature. Greasy/fried foods, refined sugars, and excess dairy and gluten can slow down metabolism, weigh down the body energetically, and eventually physically. We can see the down-river result of too many damp foods manifest in the body as weight gain, sore joints, a foggy-head, loose stools, and issues like candida and edema. Keep the spleen happy and the digestive fire burning with warm, ‘dry’ foods.


The spleen also likes sweet flavors, but again, we keep balance in mind. Think slightly sweet and naturally sweet. Foods that fit the bill are fruits like figs, plums, and apples, vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips, and squash. Rice, potatoes, and mushrooms are considered slightly sweet as well (along with whole grains which are okay for those without gluten sensitivities). Lentils and legumes can be added in for their protein and fiber which help to regulate blood sugar. Avoid fruit juices, as they lack the fiber to balance the sugar.


To round out your meals, feel free to add some (free-range organic when possible) meat, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens for balance. Soups and stews are a great way to bring together a few simple ingredients in a spleen-friendly way. Just don’t forget: slow, simple, balanced, warm, dry, and slightly sweet.


How we eat is often just as important as what we eat. In our fast-paced society, everything feels rushed. Yet it is so important to take the time to generate better awareness around mealtime. In simple terms: CHEW your food. Take a moment before eating to look at your food, appreciate it, and then ..enjoy the taste...slowly. Ask your body to receive it with love, while minimizing potentially stressful distractions. Make it a meditation. Or at least a moment of gratitude.


Follow these basic principles of nourishment during times of seasonal change and you’ll find yourself transitioning with ease.


Come in for a late summer tune-up with acupuncture to better harmonize with the transitional season, strengthen digestion and support your body through seasonal changes. We’re here for you!





Monday, August 16, 2021

Natural Ways to Alleviate Headaches from an Eastern Medicine Perspective


Natural Ways to Alleviate Headaches from an Eastern Medicine Perspective

When you get a headache what does it feel like? Is it dull, nagging, aching and lasts all day? Is it sharp, stabbing, throbbing and short-lived?

Where is your pain located? Does it feel like a tight headband going from your forehead to the back of your head? Maybe into your neck? Is it on one side? Behind your eyes? Do you feel it at your temples or near your jawline?

Do you feel better when you lie down in a dark room and recuperate? Does eating a snack or a meal help? Conversely, do you feel better when you get out and take a walk or does eating a greasy meal make your headache worse or even bring it on?

In Eastern Medicine, the answers to these questions help to define and diagnose the type of headache you experience based on pain, location and whether your headache is a manifestation of a deficient or excess state.


Excess vs Deficiency

Excess conditions tend to be more intense and acute while deficient conditions tend to be more dull, nagging, and chronic. If your symptoms are better with rest, your headache is likely due to deficiency because you are easily depleted. If your symptoms are better with exercise or movement, your headaches are likely due to an excess state and you need to burn off energy.

In Eastern Medicine, when we diagnose a deficient state we tonify or nourish the imbalance, in an excess state we quell or calm the overactivity. We have several tools we use to bring the body back to balance. The main tools are acupuncture, nutrition, and botanicals.


One of the best ways to get immediate relief from a headache is to find a qualified, licensed acupuncturist in your area and get acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is when tiny needles are inserted at specific locations that correspond to your pain. Many acupuncturists specialize in headaches and love treating them because acupuncture often provides on-the-spot relief and people leave the acupuncturist’s office headache-free. Regular acupuncture can also prevent headaches from occurring in the first place and many people end up getting regular treatments once or twice a month to keep their headaches completely away.



Eastern medicine has been treating headaches with nutritional recommendations for thousands of years. First, it is good to identify if you are more prone to a stress or tension headache if you have missed meals or are feeling hungry. This type of headache means there is a deficiency occurring and the body needs energy in order to nourish itself and prevent a headache.

Many people are busy at work or on their computer focusing for hours and they are not paying attention to their hunger. This is a sign of a deficient-type headache.

It is also possible to experience a headache after eating foods that do not agree with your constitution. For example, if your headache pain comes with brain fog or muzzy feeling in the head, it is best to avoid sugary or fried foods and aim for healthy options.

Acupuncturists are also trained in what foods are best for what type of headache you are experiencing and can counsel you on how to change your meals to prevent headaches.


Chinese Medicinals (Botanicals)


There are many formulas in the vast Chinese Medicinal Pharmacy that are used for headaches. A licensed acupuncturist has undergone many years of training in this pharmacopeia and can prescribe a formula that will bring homeostasis to an excess or deficient constitution. These formulas are often individualized to each person’s constitution with great precision or there are common formulas used that are also very effective.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Western & Eastern Medicine Treatment Approaches to Headaches


Western & Eastern Medicine Treatment Approaches to Headaches


According to Eastern Medicine thought, there are many paths up a mountain. In this article we will be discussing headaches and how both Eastern and Westerin medicine view headaches. The Western (aka Biomedical) approach is reductionist and relies on empirical observation and symptom differential. The Eastern approach is dynamic, holistic, personalized and also relies on a symptom differential. However,  that process looks quite different from the conventional approach. Here we discuss both approaches and how they differ.


How does a Western Medicine Clinician View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?


According to conventional western medicine, a headache is quite simply defined as the experience of pain in the upper neck, head or face. According to Western Medicine, the most common types of headaches are vascular (think migraines), or involve muscle tension and stress.


Primary and Secondary Type Headaches


According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two classifications of headaches, primary and secondary. In primary headaches, there is no identifiable underlying disease process that is the cause. Primary headaches are most common and are categorized as migraines, migraines with aura, tension and cluster headaches. Here we will briefly discuss the two most common primary headaches, tension and migraine.


Primary headaches are mainly due to lifestyle factors that trigger the headache. Examples include stressful events, poor sleep, poor posture, specific foods, skipping meals, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations, certain smells or bright lights.


Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These account for 90% of all headaches and are usually felt on both sides of the head and can affect the eyes, scalp, neck as well as head. Tension headaches are most commonly caused by chronic stress or a stressful event.


Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disease process or illness. The list of causes is extensive but includes such things as sinus infections, influenza, infections, dental problems, glaucoma, hangovers, etc....


A Western doctor will classify your headache as primary or secondary by assessing your symptoms and by doing a medical exam. If necessary, you may need blood tests or an image of the head or neck. However, primary-type headaches are most common and usually do not require more than an in-office exam.


Western Treatment of Headaches

Treatment is determined based on your diagnosis. However, most people with primary headaches will be given over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen.

If the headache is a migraine, treatment may include a prescription medication used specifically for migraines. The most likely scenario is that you will leave your clinician’s office with some advice to rest and a prescription of some kind.

How does an Eastern Medicine Doctor View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?

According to Eastern Medicine Clinicians, a headache is a manifestation of a symptom, in this case pain, caused by an internal imbalance, known as the root cause. Just like in Western medicine where headaches are categorized as primary or secondary, in Eastern thought, the cause is also categorized but in a very different way. The clinician will assess whether the pain is due to an internal imbalance or due to an external influence like an infection.


Most patients who have headaches due to an internal balance will be assessed for the type of imbalance by checking the patient’s pulse, respiratory rate, color and quality of their complexion, their tongue color and coat. The patient will also be asked about the onset, time, location and the character of the pain. 


Through this lens, the clinician looks for a pattern unique to the individual to assess what type of imbalance is causing the headache. This differentiation establishes whether the person has an imbalance from a state of excess or a state of deficiency somewhere in the body. This means the patient may have an accumulation of too much energy stuck in their body or it could mean they are low in energy and need some kind of tonifying treatment to relieve their headache.


Excess headaches include symptoms like sharp or throbbing pain in the temples or behind the eyes, a feeling of cotton or wool inside the head, sharp pain or feeling of heat  in the head or face, feelings of nausea or chest oppression. Deficiency headaches are usually dull rather than sharp, involve the whole head, and are relieved by rest or eating.


In a nutshell, the Eastern clinician is looking for patterns unique to the individual. After a pattern has been established, a diagnosis can be made and that is how the treatment is decided.

What are your treatment options in Eastern Medicine?


There are several options for treatment in the Eastern Medicine clinician’s toolbox. This may range from nutrition advice, Qi Gong, stretching, stress-reducing techniques, meditation, or simple exercises.


The patient’s stress levels and environment will be assessed along with treatment of the underlying internal imbalance. The patient will have their history  and current lifestyle considered in context with their symptoms.


The primary tools used inside the Eastern clinician’s office are high-quality traditional botanical medicines, acupuncture or acupressure. In many instances, a simple trip for an acupuncture treatment can eliminate a tension headache or migraine in one session. Other times, it takes a few treatments as the underlying pattern is addressed. Patients will often come in for preventative treatment so that they can remain headache-free.


Monday, August 9, 2021

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month: TCM Tips for Bright Eyes & Healthy Vision

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month:
TCM Tips for Bright Eyes & Healthy Vision

“The eyes are the window to the soul” as the saying goes. This couldn't be held more true in Traditional Chinese Medical theory as we look to the eyes to diagnose the quality of the shen, or spirit. Clear, bright eyes tell us the spirit is vital and strong, whereas dull eyes that lack spark suggest emotional struggles. Our eyes provide us a unique perspective into various aspects of health such as our emotional states, digestive function, and sleep quality. Keeping those soul windows sparkling requires a lifetime of maintenance.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology designates August as Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month as a way to educate the public on ways to promote healthy eyes and vision. Prevention of injury and early detection in children are essential to ensure the possibility of long-term vision health, but adults and children alike can also benefit from basic Chinese Medicine health tips that protect our peepers and keep them shining.

1) Screentime Restrictions: While all the meridians have a connection to the eyes, it is the liver that “opens in the eyes”. The vision is nourished by liver blood. Too much strain, such as from harsh light, is said to drain the liver blood. The blue light from electronics has been linked to problems like blurry vision, dry eyes, even cataracts. So whether you’re 5 or 55, set some limits on screen time. If work requires you to be on the computer for extended periods, try some blue-blocker glasses to ease the strain.

2) Diet: Goji berries, a traditional medicinal berry throughout Asia have recently gained popularity in the West for their anti-aging benefits and can be found in many health food stores. They are also considered nourishing for liver blood and famous for protecting the eyes as they are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to protect the retina of the eye. Blueberries are another berry that should be included regularly for their high antioxidant content and have been shown to improve night vision. Dark leafy greens are traditionally promoted to build liver blood and are nutrient-dense vegetables, high in Vitamin C and E, as well as carotenoids, that lower risk of eye disease.

3) Get Good Sleep: Want to know one of the best ways to prevent puffy dark circles under the eyes? Don’t slack on sleep! Nighttime is the body’s time to rest and allow the organs time for repair. Fatigue is a sign that the qi has not had the chance to replenish itself and can reveal itself outwardly as tired droopy eyes. The liver repair time is 1-3am, when we should be in deep sleep, but getting a full 7-9 hours of sleep a night is vital to restore and support our whole system.

4) Acupressure Massage: Stimulation of certain points have been shown to increase blood flow to the eyes and muscle of the eye. Some simple acupressure massage techniques can be used regularly to soothe and brighten the eyes by supplying vital energy. Using your thumbs, find the point, at the inside corner of the eyebrow just under the bone where you feel an indent. Push up and massage with a circular motion for 30 seconds. Then using the thumb and index finger, massage the bridge of the nose near the corners of the eyes. Finally, slide down with index fingers right into the depression just underneath the highest point of the cheekbones, in line with the pupils and apply gentle pressure.

In addition to these self-care tips, one of the best recommendations for bright healthy eyes is keeping a bright healthy attitude. Nourish and support your spirit so that when that shen shines through your eyes it reveals your own uniquely inspired passion for life.

Let us help you with the maintenance required for all aspects of healthy vision. Call today to book an appointment. We’ll take good care of you, your eyes and that spirit that shines through.

Friday, August 6, 2021

5 Alternative Treatments and Home Remedies for Psoriasis


For people with psoriasis, suffering from painful symptoms like inflamed, flaking, and red skin is not pleasant. The chronic skin condition is due to an overactive immune system that can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors. Many Western treatments include steroid creams and oral medications that come with a slew of unwanted side effects.

Below are alternative treatments that are safe and natural and can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis, leading you back to better health.


1. Herbal Remedies


●        Aloe Vera: The gel from this cactus plant can be used generously on your skin to reduce redness and scaling caused by psoriasis. Aloe vera can be found in almost any grocery or health store.


●        Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is thought to have antiseptic properties. It can soothe irritated skin or scalp and can be applied daily.


●        Turmeric: Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Because of this, turmeric has been found to reduce psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flares. Turmeric can be found in pill form as well as powder form to be added to food.


●        Dead Sea Salts: Soaking in a bath with Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts can remove scaly skin and reduce itching. It is recommended that you use warm water and stay in the tub for 15 minutes.


2. Mindfulness/Meditation


Mindfulness and meditation practices have been found to be effective in people suffering from chronic pain like psoriasis.


Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the moment and ridding yourself of all external thoughts you may be having. This can lead to a state of relaxation and calmness, bringing balance to your body and mind. 


Mindfulness, which is practiced in meditation, includes becoming completely aware of your body, externally and internally. This can be a seated meditation that is focused on awareness of mind, body, and senses.


3. Exercise


Not only is exercise important to maintain overall health and wellness, but it is also especially beneficial for people with psoriasis.


Because people with psoriasis have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, regular exercise can prove very helpful. 


Many find it hard to exercise because of the chronic pain associated with psoriasis. Exercise programs in the water prove to be an effective alternative that is easier on the body and still allows you to build endurance and strength.


Other simple ways to fit more exercise into your day include short walks, taking the stairs and stretching.


4. Massage


Seeing a licensed massage therapist can help reduce symptoms and pain. Massage promotes the function of muscle and connective tissue and can increase relaxation and circulation in the body.


5. Acupuncture


Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in minimizing chronic pain in patients. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach with the body and symptoms you may be experiencing. By returning the body to its natural flow, acupuncture can help reduce the intensity of symptoms of psoriasis.



Home Remedies:


●        Soak a towel in cold milk and apply to affected area to relieve itching.

●        Add ½ cup ground oatmeal into a warm bath.

●        Rub the affected area with the inner side of a banana peel.

●        Apply aloe vera gel to affected area.

●        Cut several fresh willow branches into 3-inch stems and place in a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until water becomes black. Wash affected areas with the water three times daily.

●        Slice 15 water chestnuts and soak in 3 oz. of rice vinegar. Crush and store in a sealed jar. Apply the paste to affected area and cover with gauze. Change daily.






Tuesday, August 3, 2021

More than Skin Deep: Holistic Home Remedies for Psoriasis

(Psoriasis Action Month)
More than Skin Deep:
Holistic Home Remedies for Psoriasis

August is Psoriasis Action Month, promoted to help educate the public about the most common auto-immune disease in the country. In psoriasis, the rapid growth of skin cells leads to raised red scaly patches, the signature symptom of this chronic inflammatory skin disease. Even though it is not contagious, it is extremely widespread. While it’s gained much more attention in the past 10 years, the condition has been around a long time.

“Dry lichen (traditional name for psoriasis) is itchy with dry skin and a discernible border. When scratched white scales are formed.”

-Zhu Bing Yuan Hou Lun (Treatise Regarding the Origin and Symptoms of All Diseases 610 CE

Traditionally, Chinese medicine would associate it with certain patterns in the body such as ‘hot blood’, ‘fire toxins’, ‘wind’, and ‘damp heat’. The main meridian system involved is the lung/large intestine network. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs govern the skin, and the large intestine is the paired organ to the lungs (Interestingly, numerous studies have linked intestinal health to skin homeostasis). While there are many ways to support the body’s natural healing process at home, the most effective Chinese Medicine for psoriasis is a customized herbal formula tailored to your specific pattern.

Some lifestyle keys to help manage flare-ups are to, firstly, avoid triggers such as stress, anxiety, and alcohol. Often simply soaking in a warm (not hot) Epsom or mineral salt bath can calm angry, itchy skin. Regular saunas have provided relief for many, as well as sunshine in moderation.

Usually those suffering from psoriasis will become familiar with specific foods that can aggravate the skin such as spicy foods, caffeine, dairy, gluten, and other potentially allergenic foods like peanuts, corn, soy or citrus. It is recommended to keep a food diary to get to know your individual sensitivities. Some cooling foods that can help reduce heat in skin include mung beans, dandelion greens, broccoli, bok choi, cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, pears, celery, and white radish. Probiotics can also be taken to support gut health as well.

A powerful herb credited with skin soothing and healing ability is Indigo Naturalis, known as Qing Dai in Chinese herbology. Topical applications are very effective in minimizing symptoms, shown to provide a 75% clearing of psoriasis when using only Indigo Naturalis topically, regardless of severity. It is considered very safe with no adverse effects.

There are a couple very important acupressure points to work with as well. SP 10 (sea of blood), is found when the knee is bent, about 2 fingerwidths above the top of the inside corner of the kneecap. This is one of the best points to ‘cool blood’ and can help clear the heat that leads to itching and inflammation of the skin. 

Another point to massage is GB 20 (wind pool) known to subdue ‘wind patterns’ of the body often associated with skin conditions that come and go and flare up in various parts of the body. Locate it by feeling for the bone behind the ear then following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull. Use deep, firm pressure towards your skull for 10 seconds at a time (great for headaches too!).

When psoriasis action month ends, many will continue to deal with this frustrating skin condition throughout the year. Yet, there are ways to alleviate the suffering. These home remedies offer some keys to relief but personalized pattern treatment with acupuncture and herbs can deliver even more. With a growing awareness of the nature and prevalence of this disorder can come awareness of more holistic treatment options and hope for true healing.

For personalized treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions, reach out for an appointment as soon as possible so we can get you on the track to healing!