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As a reader of my blog, you’ll recognize a common thread: Balance = Good Health! The body knows this, instinctively, and is constantly adjusting so as to right itself and stay in the state of stasis. In Chinese medicine, one of the goals is to balance heating and cooling aspects of the body.  Now, as we move past the hottest summer on record, most of us are thankfully packing away thoughts of heat along with our window AC units.  But not so fast! Heat, in this case, refers not only to the environmental temperature but also your body. Our bodies possess qualities of heating and cooling. Health problems can occur if the heating and cooling goes out of balance.  That’s why

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The idea of qi has both mystical and practical aspects.  In Chinese philosophy, qi (pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”) is an energy that is in all things in the universe and comprises the building blocks of the universe.  Trees, rocks, and mountains all have a specific type of qi. It is the universal energy present in all of nature. In Chinese medicine qi is the body’s energy is a very practical concept. Qi is the energy we use to keep us healthy. It allows us to work, grow, exercise, and reproduce. Imbalances in the qi can lead to many health issues. Qi circulates through channels in the body. In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there

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Yin and Yang, Balance as Health One of my secret indulgences is watching food television programs. In a recent international baking competition, the American team created a cake based on the theme of yin and yang. It occurred to me that what started as a Chinese philosophy has now become a part of the world’s vocabulary, but few people understand this concept in the context of Chinese philosophy and medicine. Origins of Yin and Yang Originally, the terms yin and yang referred to the two faces of a sun-bathed mountain. They called the sunlit face yang and the shady side yin. Philosophers observed that while these two sides are opposites, they are inextricably linked. When there is light, there is

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The process of treating back pain with acupuncture, or any pain for that matter, is complex.  As an acupuncturist, we have many factors to consider in the treatment. Important factors for the acupuncturist to decide are what acupuncture points to use, how long the needles stay in, what position the patient should lie, the use of electro-acupuncture, additional use of cups, and other factors. 1. How to choose acupuncture points: Acupuncture points can be chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain.  Some pain, such as pain from sciatica, is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.

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This morning on NPR there was a very informative piece about the causes of migraines and why women suffer more from migraines than men. The story explains the that one reason migraines occur is because of bursts of electrical activity in specific areas of the brain.   Often they begin in  the visual center, which is why people will get auras from migraines.  Then it will travel through different regions explaining why there can be so many different symptoms related to the migraine headache. Originally women were thought to get more migraine was because women cannot handle stress.  However, now researchers are seeing links between hormone imbalances and migraines. Acupuncture for Migraine headaches Migraine headaches are very commonly treated with

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Traditional Chinese Medicine is a term that refers to medicine practices developed in China and other parts of Asia.  Traditional Chinese Medicine generally covers many types of modalities including acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese Herbal remedies, Tui Na or Chinese Medical Massage, as well as other manual therapies including gua sha (spoon massage or coining) and cupping. In China, the term Chinese medicine (in Chinese it is called Zhong Yi 中医) often refers to the practice of Chinese herbal medicine.  Although it can also refer to the entire practice of Chinese medicine. While acupuncture refers to acupuncture and moxibustion. Some of these therapies are performed only by experienced physicians, such as prescribing complex herbal formulas or doing acupuncture. But others are

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The Meaning of Zhen Jiu ( 针灸) Acupuncture is not just acupuncture.  In fact, the word for acupuncture in Chinese, Zhen Jiu, actually  translates to “acupuncture and moxibustion”  which shows how central moxibustion is within acupuncture. Moxibustion is the warming of acupuncture points or needles.  Most often, this is done through burning an herb called mugwort.  It can also be done with heat lamps as well as herbal lotions. In my office, we use smokeless moxibustion because it is treated and does not create much smoke. How does Moxibustion work? Just like with acupuncture, moxibustion focuses on correcting the underlying imbalance in the body. Because it is warming, generally moxibustion is used when there is cold in the body.  Moxibustion

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“And when you do find one, observe with care…they almost always have crystals in their hearts.” From Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez To understand Chinese medicine better, we also have to think about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine conceptualize and describe the body. The Language of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system with it own diagnosis and treatment.  The terminology and language is also unique. Sometimes, acupuncture language may sound a little magical.  We may say that a headache is caused by liver qi stagnation in one person but in another person it may be from heat.  Similarly, anxiety can come from heart blood vacuity but it

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It takes many years for an acupuncturist to develop skills in taking the pulse.  A properly trained and skilled acupuncturist can find out a lot from your pulse. The pulse is a significant aspect the Chinese medicine diagnosis process. The pulse reflects the imbalances in the body and the strength of the body’s energy.  This helps to determine the root cause of your health concern. What does an acupuncturist look for in the pulse? The pulse is a reflection of the what is going on inside the body.  As an acupuncturist, when I take the pulse, I don’t just thin about if it is too fast or slow.  I am looking for is it very strong, or very weak, is

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Some think that only teenagers get acne.  But many adults, mostly women, develop acne in their 20’s and remain with it well into their 40’s.  Adult acne is a very common issue I treat in my acupuncture clinic. The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective for adult acne treatment. One theory is that stress causes hormone imbalances which effect the development of acne. Also, as many people know, the menstrual cycle can influence acne. Traditional Chinese Medicine Acne Treatment Acupuncture helps the body to manage stress and encourages the body to relax. Chinese herbs work to regulate hormone imbalances, especially if there are irregular menstrual cycles. Herbs can help to control bacteria levels and decrease inflammation. The

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