Close up of a 12 year old boy relaxing on an acupuncture table, getting cupping

Cupping for Kids!

A child laying comfortably on an acupuncture table getting cuppingWhen I introduce cupping to kids, they’re hooked.  They request it right away in every treatment.  Most of them even say that of all the tools I use, cupping is their favorite.

Cupping is a system that uses glass, bamboo, silicon, plastic or earthenware cups to create a suction on a person’s skin.  This is done by sucking the air out of the cup and placing it on the skin.  The skin is pulled upward into the cup to improve blood flow, open the pores and release tension in the area.  With kids, I use gentle cupping to improve stress, muscle tension, insomnia, inflammation and other symptoms.

How Does it work?

Parents often ask me how cupping works.  There are many explanations for the therapeutic mechanism behind cupping.

It starts with understanding the influence of heat in the body.

According to Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), heat is a medical symptom.  Eastern medical practitioners aim to balance the level of heat in the body.  People – kids and adults alike – can have internal heat symptoms (those that are inside their body) or external heat signs (those that are visible and present on the outside).  Feeling hot at night time is an example of an internal heat symptom.  Red, inflamed acne, eczema or other skin conditions are visible external heat signs.

When I look for heat in a patient, I am monitoring a variety of body systems for its presence.  It could influence the patient’s body temperature.  They may have skin that feels warm to the touch.  They may complain of feeling hot more frequently than others around them.  However, some kids have signs of internal heat, but do not feel warm at all.  In this case, a pattern of heat symptoms and signs affect multiple internal body systems.  When excess warmth causes or aggravates health conditions, we see multiple body responses related to heat, such as these:

  • a dark red tongue color
  • a tongue with a bright red tip and/or a yellow coat across the top.
  • irritability, anger, frustration
  • difficulty relaxing and thus difficulty sleeping
  • nightmares, night terrors, restless sleep
  • dry skin and lips that have a red coloring to them
  • constipation or dry, hard, painful bowel movements
  • dark yellow or orange urine (not affected by supplements, medications or food)
  • strong smelling stools, urine or gas
  • red and painful acne, other red rashes or skin conditions
  • sore throat
  • skin that feels warm to the touch

There are too many signs and symptoms to list all of them here, but this is a start in understanding heat’s impact on the body.  Heat is most commonly found in children because they are young and active.  It is easy for them to fall into an imbalance that involves too much heat.

While heat sounds like a simple concept, it can become a very complex problem to treat, especially when it affects multiple body systems.  One way to clear heat from the system is to open the pores and vent it from the body.  Cupping is a fun and unique way to do this.  In this way, it cools a child’s temperature.  This includes calming their “internal temperature,” to decrease frustration, anger and irritability.

Another way to vent heat from the system is to relax the body and release physical or emotional tension.  Many children – primarily teenagers but younger kids too – have tension in their neck and shoulders.  Heavy backpacks full of text books and hunched forward postures from playing on iPads or computers have created a “neck and shoulder tension epidemic” in our culture.  We’re all guilty of promoting activities that add to this epidemic – me included.

Some children who have no symptoms of physical pain or stiffness still carry mental/emotional strain that can, at times, result in physical tension.  Cupping lifts the skin, opens up the surface capillaries and promotes fresh blood flow through the area.  This action restores blood, fluid and energy flow through the body.  In doing so, improves both physical and emotional relaxation.

You can learn more about how cupping works from this great Everyday Acupuncture podcast.

Does It Hurt?

Are you kidding me?  The first person to let me know if something hurts would be a child.  If cupping was painful, children would cry and beg not to come back, but my practice is bursting with children who beg and plead for cupping.

I completely understand why I get this question so often – no one wants to subject their child to something uncomfortable.  But rest assured – cupping is painless!

When I work with kids, they get to choose how tightly I place the cups, similarly to how adults get to direct the strength and depth of a massage.  I start out very gentle and pay close attention to what feels comfortable for the child.

Teenagers may request stronger cupping if they’re dealing with acute or chronic pain, because if feels good similarly to a deep massage.  Younger children tend to stick with gentle cupping, as the taste for a stronger round of cupping develops with time.

What About Cupping Marks?

Kids do receive marks from cupping.  However, because I use gentle cupping on kids, they are usually not very dark.  They do not look like pictures of famous Olympic athletes or other adults who have received cupping.  Kids don’t have nearly the level of tension in their muscles as adults do.  The more tension a person has, the darker the cupping marks.  Also, I don’t leave cups on kids for long periods of time, because, well – let’s be honest – kids don’t lay around in one position for very long.  I let the cups rest for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and then we move on.  The longer a cup stays on one position, the darker the mark.

Here is a picture of cupping marks on a 7 year old child – you can see that they are not very dark.  These types of marks last about 3 – 7 days, depending on the child’s ability to heal.

7 year old child raising his t-shirt to show the light red circles leftover from cupping on his back.

What Does It Help With?

The first thing that I see change after a few treatments with children is their sleep.  Sometimes, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is the result of a more complex condition.  If so, it may take more than just a few balancing treatments to remedy.  Other times, all they need is a little bit of heat clearing and balancing and they tank out right around bedtime.

12 year old child receiving cupping on her upper back12 year old child receiving cupping on her right shoulder and upper back.

As mentioned earlier, teenagers (and some children) deal with constant aches and pains.  They carry around heavy bags and sit at computers for hours at a time.  They get repetitive motion injuries from being very active in sports.  They also get stiff from being very inactive while sitting all day long in school.  Neck and shoulder pain, tension headaches, back pain, hip pain, even abdominal pain have responded favorably to cupping in the past.

Stress responds favorably to cupping as well.  Environmental influence, dietary response, home or school interactions and political tension all contribute to an increase in mental/emotional stressors for our kids.

Children and teenagers have the opportunity to learn stress coping methods and to form a resilient mental/emotional landscape from a young age.  They can create lifelong habits to decrease their stress by trying treatments like cupping early.

In addition to sleep challenges, pain and stress, cupping is also used in treatment for anything involving heat and the list is extensive.  Here are some of the conditions that may benefit from cupping:

  • ADHD/Attention Issues
  • Asthma
  • Acute Ear Infections
  • Bed-wetting
  • Common Cold or Flu
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Digestive Issues (chronic constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.)
  • Chronic Ear Issues
  • Eczema or Rashes
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines/Headaches
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Teething
  • Chronic Urinary Problems

And more…

Kids truly enjoy pediatric appointments at Light & Dark Acupuncture because the tools used are new, interesting and adventurous.  Cupping, which is typically included in each pediatric session, is no exception to the rule.  Not only is cupping okay to do on children, it is painless and effective and they absolutely love it.

To learn about more tools used in Light & Dark pediatric sessions, check out The 5 E’s: What to Expect In Non-Needle Pediatric Treatments at Light & Dark Acupuncture.

Come try out cupping!
Pediatric foot being massaged in a non-needle acupressure session

The 5 E’s: What to Expect In Non-Needle Pediatric Treatments at Light & Dark Acupuncture

So, you want your child to experience the benefits of acupuncture but you think they won’t go for needles? That’s what non-needle options are for!

Believe it or not, most kids love acupuncture.  About 60% of the kids who attend pediatric appointments at Light & Dark Acupuncture choose to try it.  You can learn about how this works in my last article, Acupuncture, A Unique, Responsive and Lovable Treatment for Children.  

About 40% of kids stick to only the non-needle acupuncture techniques and virtually all of them choose to try this fun and unique healing system.  It’s helpful for parents and kids to know what to expect in these treatments.

What Does a Pediatric Non-Needle Treatment Involve?

There are many options for non-needle pediatric sessions.  I usually recommend Shonishin coupled with a bit of tuina or shiatsu (Chinese and Japanese styles of therapeutic bodywork). I provide a “home treatment,” an acupressure-based protocol, when it applies to or when families request it. In addition, kids may choose to receive:

 

What is Shonishin?

*Shonishin* is a Japanese acupressure system.  This painless, non-invasive, non-needle system involves tapping and brushing on acupuncture meridians and points to create a therapeutic effect.  When we use our Western minds to analyze this Eastern system, we believe that it activates the immune system, relaxes the nervous system and decreases inflammation, though there is a deficit of studies on shonishin, so we do not yet have sufficient evidence to prove this.  However, science often proves things we have known for many years through observation.

According to Eastern philosophy, a shonishin treatment helps a patient’s Qi (pronounced “chi”) flow smoothly through the body and it balances the body’s yin and yang.  By doing this, shonishin can be helpful for pediatric disorders and discomforts, such as insomnia, anxiety, enuresis, digestive disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism, anger and frustration, and so much more.  For a full list of conditions typically treated by shonishin, visit the “Shonishin” page at www.lightanddarkacu.com.

The 5 E’s

Non-needle treatments are not always what you imagine they will be. You and your child may have expectations or anxieties. To help you know what to expect and relieve those anxieties, here are the 5 E’s: What to Expect in Non-Needle Pediatric Treatments at Light & Dark Acupuncture.

1) Examination

I examine patients through questioning/listening, palpation/touch, looking and smelling.  Patients and parents provide crucial information about the patients’ symptoms at the beginning of the session.  This is followed by an examination of the patient’s tongue, pulse, face, abdomen, ears and skin.  When necessary, basic western exams may be added, such as listening to the heart or lungs, reading oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, taking the temperature, etc.  I do not examine or treat locally any clients’ private areas, but I can still treat symptoms that involve those areas, such as wetting the bed, constipation, etc. using acupuncture meridians and points found elsewhere on the body.

2) Encouragement

Treatment remains focused on goals that the patient and the parent define. Families to define what feels “right” and “wrong” to them.  For instance, many families have children who wake at night time and come to their parents’ room to get in their beds.  Some families are exhausted by this and have difficulty sleeping when their children join them.  Others love every minute of it and dread the day that their children no longer want to snuggle up to them at night.  I value each family’s experience and use it to guide the treatment.

I listen to both patient and parent concerns and enthusiastically celebrate every step towards success on the journey, even very small ones.  In this way, children learn to be process-oriented so that they can understand and sustain their health goals.  

Identifying health goals is a great first step, but setting up sensible, easy and sustainable health habits is what makes these goals attainable.

3) Enlightenment

Patient and parent education shows up in every session.  Education can involve many subjects, including:

  • Connections between mind, body and spirit
  • East Asian traditions and lifestyle suggestions for improving sleep, boosting immunity, calming the mind, decreasing pain, etc.
  • Acupressure points for improving your child’s symptoms
  • Dietary recommendations from Eastern traditions, and how these dietary philosophies correlate to what we know about inflammation, food intolerances, allergies, etc.

I like to forewarn parents that we will be talking about food and beverages because I know that for many families, food choices can be a frustrating topic.  Each family is truly doing the best that they can.  But nutrition is so important and it is always worth discussing.  In traditional East Asian medicine, food and beverage choices are the most powerful way to positively impact any health condition.  Specific dietary choices that are used for sports injuries, weakened immunity, attention, focus, and other ailments.

4) Easy-going Environment

While parents often expect that pediatric non-needle sessions will be quiet, spa-like sessions, this isn’t always the case.  Some kids come in, lie down and relax as I work on them.  Other kiddos don’t want to slow down.  

I use all the calming techniques I know and when they do not leave the child in a relaxed state, I move towards offering a playful and creative environment.  These fun and active treatments are as powerful as relaxing ones and children love them.

I follow the flow of the child to determine the each session’s activity level.  This way, children can feel comfortable to be themselves.

5) Empowerment

Kids have full control over what type of treatment they receive.  I make the environment one where asking questions is encouraged and where a child can feel safe refusing, slowing down, or waiting on any aspect of treatment.  This is so important in building trust with children!  There is no need to pressure them to try tools they’re uncomfortable with, because they always find a few of them that they love.

I explain to the kids I work with that I am going ask permission to use each tool on them, and that I am not going to use any tool that they don’t want me to use.  I explain that none of the tools hurt and that I will demonstrate each one on the table or on myself and ask if they would like to try it.

Kids use their newfound sense of control very wisely.  Once they have tried all of the shonishin and non-needle tools I have to offer, they start to pick their favorite ones and they tell me all about why they love them.  While most children love cupping, others state that their favorite tool is moxibustion, or shonishin brushing, etc.  Once I know a child’s preferences, I craft a non-needle treatment using those tools to stimulate the acupuncture/acupressure points specific to that child’s symptoms.

But the most important form of empowerment comes with time and repetition.  During each treatment, children learn about ways that their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are connected.  I ask them questions like, “what did you eat for dinner the night before you felt angry in the morning?” and “what does anxiety feel like in your body?”  

The more kids reflect on these patterns, the more they take away the most valuable lesson that East Asian medicine has to teach; if you really listen to your body, it is telling you all kinds of things about what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad.  

East Asian medicine teaches the lesson that your health is in your own hands – that even when unexpected, uncomfortable things happen, you don’t have to feel stuck.  You can empower yourself with tools to make your body the healthiest and happiest that it can possibly be.

In non-needle pediatric sessions, I empower the kids to take their health into their own hands, by doing home treatments, making good dietary choices, remembering to breathe deeply, manage stress levels and be active.  Sometimes it takes a while to cover ground in each of these categories – some kids may be resistant – but I find that by offering several dietary and lifestyle suggestions, kids and their families find what resonates for them and implement a few of these at a time.  The families who do this see improved treatment results and quality of life.

So, that’s the 5 E’s of what to expect in a pediatric non-needle session.  If this seems like something your children may benefit from, you can read more about these treatments on my webpage about Preparing for Your Child’s First Pediatric Session.  If you have questions, please call for a free phone consultation or book online.

I hope to see you and your children in my office soon!

Coming Up Next: Learn more about cupping to help children with insomnia, anxiety, anger/frustration and more in my next article: Cupping for Kids!

Book a Pediatric Session Online
12 acupuncture needles sticking out of one hypodermic needle, showing that there's nothing to be scared of. Acupuncture needles are tiny.

Scared of Needles but Curious About Acupuncture? No problem!!

Are you scared of needles?  Well, that makes sense.

Bare with me and we’ll make the discussion of sharp, pointy objects brief.

Whatcha Scared Of?

Western hypodermic needles are built to shoot substances into the body or extract substances from the body.  To do this, they must be hollow.  Hollow needles take up a lot of surface area on your body, and when they pierce the skin, they tend to hurt.  I have been needling myself and my patients for years, and I am still nervous when I see a big, honkin hypodermic needle coming towards my arm!

Acupuncture needles, on the other hand, are filiform, which means that they are not hollow.  They also have a much smaller circumference and take up a lot less surface area.  In fact, you can stick between 12-16 acupuncture needles inside one Western medicine needle, as seen in the picture above.  Acupuncture needles, often referred to as “pins,” feel nothing like a hypodermic needle.  I often needle a person for the first time and then hear them say, “That was it??”  Yep! That’s it.  It’s really not too bad.

It makes sense.  Of course you are scared of needles.  From a young age, we have become familiar with our doctors and nurses sticking us with very painful needles for shots and blood draws.  But acupuncture needles don’t feel like hypodermic (Western) needles at all.  They’re much less painful, so maybe you could give it a try!

Or maybe not.

Don’t worry.  I am not here to convert you.  Whatever the reason, needle phobia is real.  If you’re one of the 10% of people who suffer from trypanophobia, i.e. a fear of needles and injections, and you’re not going to be convinced to try acupuncture, fear not – there are other options for you!

Non-Needle Treatments

At Light & Dark Acupuncture, we offer Non-Needle treatments to any adult who requests a gentle, non-invasive treatment.  Non-Needle treatments still use the time-tested East Asian techniques taught in acupuncture school.  They simply use the ones that do not involve needles.  These techniques are built to help blood flow smoothly, to help boost the immune system’s response and relax the nervous system.  They help improve muscles, tissues and organ function, and they ease turbulent flow through the mind and spirit.

Here are a few of the techniques called upon in a Non-Needle Treatment:

  1. Herbal Formulas: Acupuncturists use herbal medicine to craft a formula that will treat both your current symptoms and the underlying cause of those symptoms.  Patients can drink these formulas in the form of a tea.  From old folk remedies to modern, researched synergistic herbal constituents, herbal formulas have been used for decades for healing a myriad of disorders, illnesses and injuries.  Patients are frequently astounded by the power of an herbal formula.
  2. Cupping: Chinese Medicine practitioners use cupping to release muscle stiffness, improve blood flow through areas of tension, and open the pores.  This can be useful for tight, sore muscles, the beginning stages of a cold and deep congestion in the lungs.  Are you wondering if this is the technique that left round marks all over the 2016 Olympians?  It sure is! Does it hurt? Nope – cupping feels more like a strong massage and is not meant to be painful.  Most people who try it fall immediately in love with it.  If you want to know a little more about it, you can read my blog on cupping and watch the video mentioned at the end of the blog.
  3. Shonishin: While Shonishin is typically used on children, I have found it to be effective on teenagers and adults as well.  This is a non-invasive, no-needle technique that uses tapping and brushing movements to stimulate acupuncture points.  Your body creates an immune response to the technique which sets off a cascade of events that lead to healing.  Shonishin is incredibly relaxing. It’s wonderful for adults who have been doing a little too much adulting, and it can be beneficial in several disorders such as common cold, migraines, joint aches, etc.  I’ve written some information about Shonishin on my Pediatrics webpage, if you’d like to learn more about it.
  4. “Acupressure” or Tuina & Shiatsu: These are two versions of therapeutic massage.  Tuina is a Chinese therapeutic massage that is often referred to as “acupressure”.  Specific points are chosen per TCM theory and pressure is applied to these points using various massage techniques.  Shiatsu is of Japanese origin and it uses a similar but slightly different approach to create a therapeutic response.  Both techniques can be used for muscle, tendon and bone aches, pains and tensions, as well as for internal issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety and fatigue.  Do you wonder if tuina and shiatsu may be effective for your health concerns? Here is the link to a video demonstrating tuina – at about 1 minute into it, you can begin to see several tuina techniques. You can also call me anytime and ask.    I’m happy to answer your questions!
  5. Moxabustion: Also known as “Moxa.” Moxa is an herb that we burn over the top of an acupuncture point.  This herb is a biological wonder.  It warms the acupuncture points to increase blood flow and nourishes the qi and blood to improve energy levels.  It has the perfect consistency to be rolled into a ball, and as it burns it consolidates into a little pile of ash that sticks to itself, so that it does not fall apart.  I often use moxa on individuals who experience significant fatigue because the treatments yield better results with the help of this medicinal friend.
  6. Gua Sha: Gua Sha is an Eastern technique that involves scraping a specific area.  While “scraping” does not sound like it would be a gentle therapy, it feels surprisingly comforting when you are using a “gua sha tool.”  This technique breaks up adhesions and helps the surface capillaries breathe so that fresh blood can move uninhibited through areas of stagnation. I use gua sha when a patient has an old injury that has never quite healed and it is causing secondary and tertiary issues in the body.  Like cupping, the technique leaves marks, which are not the same as bruises.  Gua Sha marks do no go through the same stages of coloration as a normal bruise.  They simply fade away sometime between 3 – 10 days after treatment.

So, if you’re interested in an alternative therapy from a rich tradition of Eastern healing techniques, but you’re scared of being poked (even if you’re told that it doesn’t hurt!), seek out a non-needle treatment!  If you’re not sure if this treatment can help your current condition, call me for a free phone consultation.  I am happy to answer your questions and discuss your health concerns.  If you are not located in Denver, I can help you find a practitioner who will provide a non-needle treatment in your area.

Book an appointment online today!

Healthy child running through a field with the type of healthy smile that children who receive acupuncture wear.

Acupuncture: A Unique, Responsive and Lovable Treatment for Children

When I tell parents that I specialize in pediatric acupuncture, it’s like I’ve pressed the “Eject” button on an old VCR.  The look on their faces says, “No way!  There’s no way my child would ever try that.” Even parents who know and love me say things like, “Oh, I’m sure there are children who can handle acupuncture but my child is afraid of needles.  They would never do it.”

Let me assure you of one thing: Kids actually love acupuncture. 

Yes, parents know their children better than I do.  They’ve witnessed their kids crying at the doctor’s office after a shot.  They have begged and pleaded with their child to go to their annual appointment stating things like “There’s only one shot this time!  Only one.  I’ll get you ice cream when you’re done.”

Parents underestimate three things: the sweeping curiosity of children; the powerful impact of building patient-practitioner rapport; and (for those who have not tried acupuncture) how different my tiny pediatric needles feel compared to an injection at the doctor’s office.

I have seen kids make unexpected, adventurous choices when they are in a safe, trusting environment, thoroughly enjoying their treatment.  What I do in the treatment room is essentially the most gentle, relaxed, playful, and rather magical therapy that many children have ever seen.

A Gentle Introduction to Acupuncture

I never do anything that a child does not agree to.  They have to be the one that says, “Yes, I want to try that.”  So, if they’re really scared by the thought of needles, or as I call them “taps,” then we don’t use them at all.  No pressure, no pleading – I trust that children will try taps if /when they’re ready, because I’ve seen them do it.

When I work with children, I demonstrate for them how the taps work, using the acupuncture table, my own arm or a willing parent as my “tap model.”  I answer their questions and let them look at the taps.  They can see how tiny they are.  I explain why I call them “taps” – they feel like a gentle tap on the skin when I use them.

Parents who are convinced that their child will not try acupuncture “taps” often find that by the second visit, the child’s curiosity has gotten the best of them and they want to try it.  Curiosity is a powerful motivator.

A Safe and Inquisitive Environment for Learning

I encourage kids to ask questions – they ask the most thorough and curious questions!  We discuss the difference between a “tap” and a needle at the doctor’s office.  When kids, typically over 4 years old, want to discuss taps, I break down the myth that all needles are painful.  I demonstrate why and how some needles are easy and trouble-free.

I create a safe and comfortable environment for kids. I emphasize that not being ready to try new things is totally okay and I never push.  This helps them relax and enjoy the treatment.

Don’t worry about explaining acupuncture to your kids.  I discuss it with them in a way that builds patient-practitioner trust and helps them feel safe and comfortable.  If you would like to tell your children something about what to expect when you’re headed to your first pediatric acupuncture appointment, read my article on “Preparing for Your First Pediatric Session.”

A Quick and Painless Insertion and Extraction

Do you know how I know beyond an inkling of a doubt that “all needles are painful” is a myth?  Three-year old children.

Three-year olds think “tap taps” are just the most hilarious, interesting, and weird thing they’ve ever witnessed.  They really love them. The thrill that these kids display while trying taps is a testament to the fact that they don’t hurt.  They are so tiny that they usually cannot be felt on insertion.  Kids learn to distrust a sharp, pointy metal objects later in life. They do not have to fear acupuncture taps.  And typically, they don’t panic about them unless they have learned that fear from another experience or person.

Now, don’t worry.  With 3 year olds, and other youngsters, I put in the tap and take it right back out.  Like most of the parents I meet, I’m not betting my life on young children sitting still for two seconds!

Parents express concern that the treatment will be less potent when they involve a quick in/out movement instead of longstanding needle retention.  The beautiful thing about treating children is that they don’t need to be quiet and still to benefit from treatments.  As we say in East Asian medicine, their yang is already on the exterior of their body. This means that tapping into the systems that respond to acupuncture in a child is an instant process.  Kids’ nervous systems and immune systems are incredibly responsive and reactive.  Their bodies are poised and ready to respond to even the gentlest nudge.

When children give acupuncture a try they realize that it is surprisingly painless and they are willing to have a few taps at each treatment. But what about kids who really do not want to try taps?  Probably somewhere around 40% of the kids who visit my practice do not want to try acupuncture right away.  For these children, we simply move on to Shonishin, a painless, non-needle, non-invasive acupressure system, as well as other non-needle methods including cupping, herbal medicine, ear jewels or ear seeds and other techniques.

Coming Up Next: You can learn more about Shonishin and other non-needle options in my next article, The 5 E’s: What to Expect in Non-Needle Pediatric Treatments at Light & Dark Acupuncture.


Book a Pediatric Session Online
A group of things to hint about what 10 ways you can make watching tv a healthier habit - a candle, a ball, a water bottle, a cup of tea, a mortar and pestal and a box of recipes

10 Ways to Make Watching TV a Healthier Habit

Six Feet Under, This is Us, Parenthood, Mad Men, TransParent, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad… Is it just me or has TV just gotten skillfully entertaining lately?

If you’re like me, you love TV or movies, but you worry that you could be using that time in a more productive manner.  Your concern makes watching TV a guilty pleasure and not an enjoyable, relaxing event.  Look, I get you – there are MUCH MORE important things to be doing with your time.  It’s true.  But remember, the more rested, relaxed and rejuvenated you are, the more energy you have to advocate for your favorite cause and the more excitement you can devote to self-improvement.

TV isn’t only bad news.  Really good TV shows and movies can:

  • Educate us
  • Inspire us
  • Unite us for a specific cause
  • Improve us (My massive celebrity crush on Jillian Michaels does, on occasion, succeed in getting me to the gym when I’m feeling unmotivated.)
  • Challenge our current perspective
  • Console us
  • Relax us
  • And so much more…

In smaller doses, it can be a therapeutic activity.  Great.  So, why is it so bad to watch TV?

Well, it is a sedentary hobby.  There are also those times when you get sucked in and do not move from the couch for 3 days until the end of your Harry Potter binge…

Okay, look – if you’re watching TV all day and never socializing or moving, nothing will make this a healthy habit.  Sorry to disappoint.  If you’re not sleeping well, not eating well, never exercising and never visiting with friends or family, there is only so much that any professional can do to help.  At some point, you must take responsibility for your health.  No one can do that for you.  Even the health-oriented routines in my 10 suggestions below won’t make up for living a healthy lifestyle, but they may start you down that path.

In the meantime, if you’ve created a routine around relaxing to the news or a well-scripted TV show in the evening, let that time be your reminder of the healthy routines you would like to create.  It’s a simple hack – use your less healthy routines to develop structure around a new beneficial groove.

Rather than consider my sedentary evening routine an unhealthy endeavor, I’ve decided to make watching TV a part of my health regime.  This is how you can do it with me!  Choose 1 or 2 of these suggestions to adopt during the first 10 – 30 minutes of watching TV or create some of your own.

So, let’s dig into this together! Here are 10 Ways to Make Watching TV a Healthier Habit!

  1. Self-massage – Give yourself a foot massage or a neck massage. Regular self-massage relaxes the muscles and tissues.  Frequent foot massages can help your feet age gracefully and may prevent knee, hip and lower back issues, and they feel great!  Use a foam roller, tennis ball, thera-cane or tens unit if you like or if you have been encouraged to do so by a healthcare practitioner.  Oh, and try this – put two tennis balls in a sock and tie it shut.  Now place each tennis ball on either side of the spine.  Roll this device up and down your spine.  Use it in your hips and glutes, or any other place that aches.
  2. Herbal Tea – Herbal teas relax the nervous system after a long day. Depending on your choice of herbs, they boost the immune system, support the respiratory system, improve blood flow in the body, and so much more.  Choosing one herbal tea to drink each evening can be a fun and rewarding process.  If you’d like to drink a medicinal herbal tea, set up an herbal consultation with Light & Dark Acupuncture.
  3. Exercise – Many people feel that their exercise routine goes by more quickly and less painfully if they’re watching a movie on the treadmill. Some individuals avoid this, citing the need to be present with their workout so they can push harder and reap larger benefits.  If gym TV watching isn’t your style, perhaps you could knock out a few crunches during the first 15 minutes of your favorite TV show.  Or push ups.  Or burpees.  Never mind – scratch that – burpees are torture.
  4. Breathing Exercises – Any individual with asthma should consider this an important routine to develop. Breathing exercises assist a host of respiratory disorders, but whose got time to sit and breathe for 20 or 30 minutes?!  If you’re struggling to find the time to practice breathing exercises, commit to doing it for the first 10 minutes of your T.V. time each night.  Set a reminder in your phone if you need help remembering.  You can breathe and count while the scenes from the last episode play.  The drama won’t get good enough to cause gasping for several minutes, so you’re set.
  5. Stretch – My grandpa used to lay on the floor every night after dinner with his hand on his stomach. I remember joining him a couple times.  If you keep your floor clean, laying on it can feel quite relaxing.  You can twist into yoga poses or focus on extending through specific muscles that feel tight.  This is also that time to do the “10 stretches that will cure your psoas and piriformis pain!” or any other specific therapeutic stretches you’ve found.  If you suffer from any kind of pain, look up specific stretches for that type of pain, or get some suggestions from your acupuncturist, chiropractor, doctor, physical therapist or other professional.  Countless clients struggle to remember to do their therapeutic stretches daily.  Use TV time as a reminder to do them!  After a couple weeks, you’ll stop thinking, “I can’t wait to zone out and watch TV,” and starting thinking, “I can’t wait to lay down and stretch out while I watch my show!”
  6. Healthy Snack – Snacking is not the right suggestion for everyone. However, if you’re someone who lacks healthy vegetables and fruits in their diet, or doesn’t get enough protein or healthy fats, committing to a healthy snack as you enjoy your routine movie time is a great idea.  Healthy snacks can indeed be delicious– veggies and hummus, steamed purple cabbage with cinnamon and oregano (you won’t regret it), avocado with lime, salt and curry powder.  They take a little prep time, but if you need to create a habit of eating healthy, you can use this already-created “TV time” routine to remind you that it is “healthy snack time.”
  7. Drink Water – Yep. I said it. So did your mom.  And your friend.  And some random person who overheard you saying something at the grocery store.  It’s true, drinking water is good for you.  I don’t think we need to argue this.  But getting into a pattern of doing it regularly can be challenging.  Let’s make it easier! Get a large water bottle and fill it up before your show.  Put a rubber band around the outside of the water bottle.  Each time you drink, move the rubber band down to the level that the water is at.  This way you can see from the outside of your bottle exactly how much is left.  Finish the bottle.  Fill up another one if you have the bladder for it.  During each commercial break look at your bottle to see where your water line is and gauge if you’re meeting your goal!
  8. Laugh – Well, this one’s a no brainer. Laughter really is the best medicine for almost anything.  It masks physical pain, frustration, anxiety, heartache – whatever your ailment.  The benefit may be temporary, but it is potent medicine nonetheless.  “Laughter stretches and relaxes the linings of your arteries, allowing blood to flow freely.” (Harrar, Sari, Pearson & Victoria, 2013).  So, watch a funny show or movie.  Find one that specifically fits your sense of humor and stick with it til the end.
  9. Cuddle – Physical connection fosters empathy and bonding and it is also great for the heart.  Oxytocin is known as “the cuddle hormone” because it is released during skin-to-skin contact.  It reduces blood pressure and relaxes the nervous system’s response to stress (“Oxytocin Hormone Benefits and Side Effects,” n.d.).  Hold someone you love because it’s heart healthy! You know what might be even better than cuddling with a chosen human?  Cuddling with a furry, warm pet.  If you’ve got one of the cuddly pet types, now is your moment.
  10. Relax – You can do one or all the self-improvement-oriented suggestions above, but don’t forget to take some time to relax. Life is moving at a fast pace and we are doing our best to keep up with it.  Sometimes we need a break, and it’s okay to take one.  So, after you’ve worked out and stretched and given yourself a neck massage, just relax and get lost in the explorative world of arts and entertainment.

So, a quick disclaimer – be sure to use your brain and a little discretion if you’re going to take this advice.  There’s a diverse group of people reading this blog and not every one of these suggestions will work for each of them.  If you can’t reach your feet, don’t try to give yourself a foot massage.  If you can’t get up off the floor, you probably shouldn’t lay on it to stretch.  If you wake 13 times per night to urinate, don’t drink a jug of water before bed.  If you tend to have issues with overeating or emotional eating, maybe snacking is not your jam – I like puns.  Don’t hate on my puns.  If you’re six feet under, you can’t do breathing exercises, so that’s out.

Being “healthy” is not about being the best at every health goal.  It’s about doing the best you can with what you’ve got.  It’s about doing just one new thing each day to ensure your longevity.  It’s about figuring out what works for you, what motivates you, and using that to reach your goals. So, find the health and fitness goals that resonate with you. Use the routine that you have already created around television to build a routine around your goals for wellness.  Before you even close this article, set cell phone reminders or alarm clocks to hold yourself accountable, in case you forget everything you just read the second you close it.

Cheers to your process and best wishes in your health journey!

References

Harrar, Sarí, Pearson & Victoria (2013). “30 Days to a Healthier Heart.” Prevention. 00328006, Vol. 65, Issue 2. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=1730cd10-abd8-4775-b3da-f01f71287ae1%40sessionmgr102&vid=20&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=87376499&db=awh

Sahelian, Ray. (n.d.). “Oxytocin Hormone Benefits and Side Effects.” Retrieved from: http://www.birthingandbreastfeeding.com/uploads/5/5/3/2/5532100/oxytocin_and_bonding.pdf

Blue light forming text on a black background that says, "Conscious Body Movement."

Herbal Medicine & the Common Cold, Hot Flashes, Vitamins & Supplements, and of course… Tap Dance!

In this interview, fitness trainer Greg Dyer (no relation – but he has a great last name!) interviews Light & Dark Acupuncturist & Herbalist, Molly Dyer about treatment of the common cold.  Dyer explains the reason why Chinese herbal formulas can powerfully kick out colds and flu at any stage.

The two discuss another topic as well – the over-consumption of vitamins and supplements.  We’re not talking about taking a few supplements on a daily basis, here.  We’re referring to those who take handfuls of vitamins and supplements and even herbs.  Healthy or hurtful? What do you think?

And let’s just be honest – any discussion would be incomplete without turning towards tap dance and its healthy effect on mental, physical and social well-being. What does this have to do with acupuncture and herbology?  Find out in the following episode of Conscious Body Movement, the podcast!

Ginger tea with lemon and honey on slate plate

Herbal Teas & Pregnancy

Here it is – that huge step. You have learned that you are pregnant. You’re hungry. You look into your fridge for something to snack on and think, “wait, can I eat that?  Spicy foods might be bad for the baby.  French fries might be bad for the baby. Ice cream is definitely bad for the baby, right? What can I eat? What should I avoid eating?” And then you do it. You google things.

Google has lots of info on do’s and don’ts in pregnancy – as do the many authors, thinkers, doctors, healers, parents, teachers and concerned individuals that fill its pages. You can find pretty much anything there, including completely conflicting information.

It is the conflicting information, the uncertainty, that sends parents-to-be to me asking questions about what kinds of Chinese herbs they can consume while they are pregnant.  It is generally understood that some herbal teas do wonders for pregnant people, while others are on the stay-as-far-away-as-possible, do-not-touch-my-baby list. It is wonderful to see parents delve passionately into educating themselves on what is healthy and what is unsafe for their babies.

Is it Beneficial to Use Chinese Herbal Medicine in Pregnancy?

Herbs have been studied and observed synergistically and bio-chemically for years.  We know a lot about the effects of many herbs.  There are hundreds of herbal compendiums that are thousands of pages deep.  So, when pregnant people come to me concerned about the possibility of herbs causing problems in their pregnancy, overwhelmed by the confusing mumbo jumbo (both good and bad) they’ve encountered on the internet, it is my absolute privilege to tell them the following guidelines to the use of herbal medicine in pregnancy:

  1. Herbal medicine is wonderful for pregnancy when properly prescribed. We have witnessed successful herbal treatment during pregnancy for thousands of years.
  2. It can help with all kinds of things; headaches, aches and pains, insomnia, morning sickness, and many other challenges experienced while growing a living being inside you for 9 months!
  3. There are even a few Chinese herbs that are particularly beneficial to the baby. We say that these herbs “calm the baby,” a somewhat poetic description of their ability to keep in check certain out-of-balance systems in a pregnant individual so that the baby can comfortably thrive in its temporary home.  Most of the formulas I create during pregnancy involve one or two of these herbs.
  4. If you see a qualified herbalist (or in my case, Chinese Herbalist) who you trust, you can drink yummy herbal teas throughout your pregnancy.  You will not have to root through all the information about what herbs to seek out and which ones to avoid. That’s why you have a professional – to keep you and the baby safe and healthy.

Are There Herbs that are Unsafe to Consume in Pregnancy?

Quite honestly – yes, there are absolutely herbs that are dangerous in pregnancy when given at a medicinal dose.  Some of these herbs are uterine stimulants, which means they are the type of herb that may promote labor.  Some of them are what we call “blood movers” in Chinese medicine.  A blood mover is an herb that helps blood flow uninhibited through the vessels.  These herbs tend to be acrid, bitter and warm.  Those that are bitter have a downward flow, and during pregnancy, we want to avoid that downward flow, particularly in individuals with a history of miscarriage.  A qualified herbalist will know which herbs to avoid in pregnancy, including blood movers, uterine stimulants and others.

You may hear herbalists say to avoid most herbal teas in the first trimester of pregnancy.  It is true that there are some herbs worth avoiding, but there is one area that herbal tea is a tried and true advantage for first trimester parents-to-be.

…Enter Morning Sickness.

Morning sickness is a common effect of pregnancy in the first trimester, which can be quite unpleasant.  One formula historically used to treat morning sickness is called Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang (Tangerine Peel and Bamboo Shavings Decoction).  It came from a text called Jin Gui Yao Lue, which is translated as Essentials from the Golden Cabinet, nearly 1,800 years ago!  Its effect is so beneficial in treating morning sickness that it is still used today, over 1,000 years after its creation.

This formula is not right for every individual who experiences morning sickness.  A Chinese herbalist is trained to observe each person’s signs, symptoms and unique constitution in order to craft an informed diagnosis.  If your diagnosis matches that which Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang treats, then this formula will be chosen for you.  If your diagnosis does not match, then Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang will likely not be very much help for your morning sickness, so your herbalist may pick another well-known formula that better fits your needs.

Is It Safe to Use Chinese Herbs in Pregnancy?

In short, YES.  You can safely enjoy the benefits of herbal medicine before, during and after pregnancy.  However, since you can find anything, literally anything, on the internet about herbs, so please do not let this become solely a google- or mommy-blog-informed project.  Gain what insight you can from the internet and then, you must speak with a qualified professional – one that you know that you can trust.

Who is a Qualified Herbalist?

So how do you know who is qualified?  My recommendation is to search for an NCCAOM Board Certified Chinese Herbalist.  This information is commonly found in the biography on a Chinese Herbalist’s website.

There are literally no regulations for prescribing herbs or supplements, so any ole schwindler, or even an avid researcher with great intentions can consider themselves to be an herbalist.  It is not illegal for someone who has read a lot about herbs to set up shop and charge for herbal consultations.

NCCAOM Board certified herbalists have completed both a Master’s degree and a harrowing board examination, thus proving themselves capable of rigorous self-study and experienced from hours of clinical internship practice.  These individuals have been around herbs and have been supervised by skilled herbalists.  They have real-world experience and training in herbalism.

I have nothing against those who have not completed a program like this; I simply cannot vouch for their education.  So, if you’re considering hiring one, please ask them –

  • What is your herbal training?
  • How many hours did you spend learning this?
  • Did you go through an institution? An apprenticeship? A library?
  • How many years have you practiced?
  • How many patients have you seen?
  • Have you treated pregnant women with herbs before?

It may feel off-putting to ask such detailed questions, but since there is no regulation telling you about a person’s experience, you’re going to have to advocate for yourself.  And you can do it, even if it’s challenging, because it is so worth it!

On a side note, I apologize for not knowing the equivalent credentials for a Western herbalist – please do feel free to comment on this in the comment section if you know about Western herbalism, as that is not my training, nor my specialty.

Yes! Please Enjoy Some Herbal Tea!

Beyond assisting comfort in pregnancy, herbs are filled healthy, nourishing vitamins and minerals that are great for the parent and child.  Drinking an herbal tea each evening can be a warm and relaxing habit to begin while facing the steep rewards and challenges of pregnancy.  Teas are delicious, nutritious, and soothing to the spirit. So, seek out a qualified herbalist to assist you – but go ahead and do it! Drink some herbal tea for you and the baby!


To learn more about Light & Dark Acupuncture herbal consultations, visit this page, or book online today at www.lightanddarkacu.com.

Picture of the meeting room at Light & Dark Acupuncture, two comfortable chairs, a lamp and some tissues

On Authentic Connection, Privacy and Flatulence

 

There are a lot of legalities surrounding patient-practitioner relationships.  The first thing we cover in Professional Relationships 101 is obvious – these patients and practitioners shouldn’t be dating.  Beyond the obvious lessons on inappropriate practitioner behaviors, learning to be in a healthcare setting is all about mastering the art of being present with the person sitting in front of us.

I want my patients to feel like they are at home when they step into my clinic.  They can take their shoes off, sit in the comfy chair, sip on some comforting tea if they like, and tell me what’s on their mind about their health.  While we discuss the many aspects of physical, mental and spiritual health, my clients don’t have to feel like “patients” – they can feel like people.

When I sit with my patients and take in information about what is going on with their health and how it is impacting their life, I want the connection to be authentic.  Most of the time, it feels like chatting with a good friend (who happens to know a lot about herbs, the body, and how to stick needles into it).  These moments of authentic connection with my patients are so profound – we often laugh together, sometimes we cry together, and we share inspirational stories that lift our spirits and leave us feeling lighter and breezier than before.  In these moments, I am washed over with gratitude towards the patient who is with me in that moment.  Their willingness to share their stories, struggles and successes provides me with a deep well of inspiration to dip into when I need it the most.

Sincere human connection is the foundation for an abundant healing process.

Pain is a little more bearable when we feel seen and heard.  If you start any treatment with positive human connection, the possibility of symptom relief is greater. This approach rings true for internal disorders like digestive issues, musculoskeletal disorders that affect the muscles, tendons or bones, neurological disorders such as neuropathy and even psychological discomfort such as anxiety or grief.

Because my patients have courageously shared their health concerns with me, I take confidentiality laws very seriously.   Acupuncturists, along with doctors, counselors and other healthcare professionals, follow HIPPA guidelines to protect the privacy of their patient’s health records.  For this reason, we are not really supposed to say, “Hey! How’s it going?!” to our patients in public.

If I am Ernie’s acupuncturist, and I am treating him for flatulence (that is, farting for you teenagers and 50-year-old teens), and then I see him in public and say, “Hey, Ernie! How’s it going?” a few potentially embarrassing things may happen here.

  1. Ernie may think, “Oh, crap! She’s going to talk about my flatulence!” No patient should ever fear that their acupuncturist will do this in public.
  2. Ernie may be totally fine with me saying hello, and then introduce me to his friend, Bert, who says, “How do you two know each other.” Ernie enthusiastically answers, “She’s my acupuncturist!” and Bert, equally enthusiastically responds with, “Cool! What is she treating you for?!”  Ugh.  Now what?  A patient should never have to worry that their acupuncturist is going to talk about their flatulence in public.
  3. Ernie may see me, get nervous that I’m going to talk about his private health concerns and symptoms, and run screaming from the room, passing gas the whole way. Did I mention that no patient should ever have to experience this?

In actuality, flatulence is no laughing matter because most of my patients are too embarrassed to bring it up until their third or fourth appointment, and it can indicate serious digestive issues that need to be addressed.  Health issues can be uncomfortable and awkward to discuss, so it is imperative that practitioners provide a safe and comfortable environment where patients feel safe to discuss their concerns.

So, kick off your shoes – heck, I’ll do it too.  Trust that your privacy is as high of a priority to me as that of your health and well-being.  Be yourself.  Share what’s on your heart and what’s in your body in a way that feels relaxed and comfortable.  As a patient-practitioner team, we’ll tackle everything head on.  You don’t have to do it alone.

My dad holding my brother, Sean and myself, sometime in the late 80's

Why I Became an Acupuncturist & The Man Who Inspired My Compassion

“Have a good day, Dad!  Go save someone’s life!”

I shouted this every day as my dad dropped me off at middle school.  You couldn’t cut through my pride with a laser when I thought about my dad helping patients at his family practice.  In fact, one day, a friend said to me, “Hey, Molly!  Your dad has touched my balls before!”  I brushed it off.  He was doing his job – nice try.  I was convinced by the “doctor magazines” with pictures of swollen, oozing eyeballs and necrotic patches of skin that my dad was a brilliant medical doctor.  I was further persuaded by the fact that he spent hours in his chair reading these nasty publications.

My dad’s commitment rubbed off on me.  As I grew, a thick layer of medical ethics settled in my psyche.  It spoke of a commitment to active listening, being present with the patient’s concerns, following safety regulations and researching conditions for hours on end, until you have a handle on them – until you can help.

I did not know that these values were inside me until I dusted off the cobwebs during my graduate school program and started speaking my thoughts to a room of bright, medically-minded students.  The pull to go into a medical profession existed as a mere hint while I pursued theatre in undergrad, and again as I ran after school programs for at risk youth.   It wasn’t until I came across acupuncture that I fell for the bait – hook, line and sinker.

But why acupuncture?  Why not nursing? Why not follow in my father’s footsteps with an M.D. like the man I idolize.

The next piece of my past leaves me feeling vulnerable and ashamed when I share it because my entire existence revolves around this one event.  It feels like I cannot have a single in-depth conversation without this topic coming up, and the records that play over and over in my mind say that people think I repeatedly bring this up to get attention.  I wish that so much of who I am and what I do were not determined by this one event in my life.  But it is.  I will forever be processing the loss of my mother at 3 years old.  She passed away in child birth, and we lost the baby as well.  It was a shock for my family and for our small town community.  She was truly a light in this life to those who knew her.

After years of processing my mother’s death, I came to a conclusion that deeply impacted my decision to go into Eastern medicine.  The Western medical field is mind-blowingly advanced – we can replace a person’s limb, regenerate burnt tissue, read a sequence of DNA, cure diseases that used to cause millions of deaths.  But maybe Western medicine does not have all the answers.

It couldn’t save my mom.  The doctors didn’t even know there was a problem until it was too late.

I don’t blame the medical community for my mom’s death.  I don’t blame anyone.  But her loss opened me up to the deepest mysteries of human experience, spirituality, and scientific sink-holes.  I was fascinated by any explanation of how the human body works, be it physical, spiritual or emotional.  Interest in alternative healing modalities was a natural fit.  I place great worth that which has been proven by science, but I understand from the depth of my being that we have not yet uncovered all the answers.

I had a completely positive experience with the healthcare system as I grew up.  The nurses let me hang out at the nurse station, drink hospital juice, and make pictures with the color-coding tape (for those of you who did not grow up with hospital nurses as your babysitters, this is the different colors of tape that they used to color code their files).  I got to draw on the bottom of the dry erase board where the patients’ initials and room numbers were listed, and our medicine cabinet at home was a mecca of cures.  I was Dr. Dyer’s daughter – if I coughed, someone immediately showed up with Robitussin.  Heck, I had the greatest healthcare gift of all; a dad to answer my every health-related question or concern.  Sickness was never something I had to fear or worry about.  I was in good hands. 

Despite my comfort with this system, I recognized its limitations.  I hated taking medication.  I did not always agree with the dietary recommendations that Western medicine embraces.  Sometimes it felt like they weren’t really solving problems – they were just masking the symptoms, only for them to return at a later date.  The drive to resolve what happened to my mom inside my mind has inspired me to look deeply into the cracks where Western medicine falls short.

One of the things I saw in those cracks was the dehumanization of healthcare.

I went to the McDonald’s of healthcare at Kaiser Permanente for a few years.   My time with the doctor was limited to about 10 minutes, during which she stared at a screen, asked me a lot of questions, and typed in my answers.  She turned to me for all of 3 minutes to feel my lymph nodes and listen to me breathe through a stethoscope.  During that visit, they shipped me in to the office, zipped me over to the treatment room with quick pit stop at the scale and vital signs station.  Then, they whizzed me over to the pharmacy and whirled me out the door.  “What just happened in there?” I asked myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect doctors.  I witnessed the depth of their training and continuing education throughout my life, and I know they act from a place of concern for their patients.  On the other hand, I also recognize that they are working for a system that is no longer working for them.  My Kaiser doctor tried to ask me about acupuncture, which she seemed to find interesting, but our conversation was cut off mid-sentence by a nurse poking her head in the door to ask a question.  And then she was off to a new room and a different patient.

Another time, I went in for my “lovely lady cervix-plucking” (i.e. PAP smear – we all on the same page here?).  The doctor did her business and then left the room.  She didn’t tell me if I was supposed to get dressed… or leave?  She just ran out, left the used, messy tools on the table next to me, and vanished.  I slowly sat up, gathered my surroundings and came to the conclusion, “I think I am supposed to leave now.”  So, I stood up, got dressed, picked up my things and opened the door.  I looked in this direction and that direction.  I couldn’t remember for the life of me which direction I came from.  This is not an uncommon occurrence for me.  After a few minutes of gazing like a lost child through the cubicles in front of me, I found something that resembled an exit.  I headed towards it.

“Am I supposed to get a paper from them?  Or talk to someone else out here?” I thought as I passed the front desk.  At this point, I decided to wrap up my dazed and confused pondering.  I thought, “Well, if I was supposed to do something, they sure as shit didn’t mention it.”  I walked out.

Even when my dad was not doing the doctoring for me growing up, his partner (my regular MD) asked me questions about myself, looked me in the eyes, spent time truly looking at my body and observing my symptoms.  I felt relaxed because my discussions with him made me trust him.

Observation is one of the four key diagnostic criteria in Chinese medicine – you have to actually look at the patient.  You cannot make a diagnosis without careful observation.  Being a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes using acupuncture and herbal remedies, requires connection, active listening, being mindfully present and spending time with the patient.  These are all things I experienced while growing up that I have found lacking at times in our Western healthcare conglomerate.

What happened to our medical care system?  When did the human connection piece exit stage right?  How can we expect to do our jobs effectively as healthcare providers if we don’t observe the person in front of us, or take the time to give them the simple directions of, “You may put your clothes back on.”  (…and they wonder why there was a naked man standing in the middle of Colfax a couple weeks ago).

I got lucky – I had an awesome doctor growing up.  He paid more attention to me than most doctors do and he showed me what caring and compassionate healthcare looks like.  I know that there are still a lot of great doctors out there, working to help humans and make their lives more vibrant and healthy.  But the system is changing in a way that decreases the connection between doctor and patient.  This connection, in my eyes, is the very heart and soul of healthcare.  Empathy plays a huge role in knowing what a person needs to heal, and empathy occurs when we look each other in the eyes, recognize human suffering, and use our intuitive understanding of healing to tailor our approach to that individual’s needs.

We connect, we recognize, we instinctively know how to help.  This is the story of our ancestry, and it makes prescribing medicine more effective.

I became an acupuncturist because my father illustrated compassion towards others, because I grappled with the mystery of the divine timing involved in my mother’s death, and because I inherited ethical standards around building trustful patient-practitioner relationships in healthcare.  In my journey to embrace Eastern traditions of holistic care, I have used the best examples my Dad offered me and implemented those into a whole-body practice I can share with my patients.   I enjoy spending quality, face-to-face time with my clients.  I love laughing with them – laughing is central to the healing process.  I also appreciate sitting with them while they cry – another essential component to healing.

This human experience is meant to be shared, so if you’re looking for a medical encounter that is about connection, listening and hearing your health concerns, visit me and allow me to provide you with the type of medical care that I have been so lucky to receive.  My goal is to help you feel relaxed and cared for in a modern medical setting while addressing your immediate and long-term health goals.

To book an appointment online, click here!

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén