All About Moxibustion

All About Moxibustion


Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner is known as moxibustion.


Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed on the acupuncture point, lit, extinguished and removed before it burns the skin.


Non-scarring moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular of the forms. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a stick of moxa and holds it close to the acupuncture point for several minutes until the area turns red.


Moxibustion is used to help people with cold or stagnant conditions. Burning moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the energetic meridians, which creates the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Moxibustion also supports the yang energy, which strengthens and increases the original Qi. Moxibustion can be used to treat many conditions including back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders, anxiety, menstrual cramps, irregular periods and infertility. Moxibustion is not recommended for diabetic patients, since they have decreased sensitivity to pain and compromised circulation.


Moxibustion is very effectively used in patients that have a cold constitution.  Many chronic conditions, even the ones that manifest as heat conditions, can have chronic cold as the underlying situation. A cold constitution is triggered or aggravated by over cooling the body systems. Because of technological advances, our bodies are exposed to cold at a much higher rate than in the past. Things like refrigeration, air-conditioning, iced beverages and even ice cream have created a society of people with cold constitutions. Also many pharmaceutical drugs including over-the-counter pain medications are known to decrease body temperature. Large consumption of fruits and raw vegetables and ongoing mental and emotional stress can also create cold constitutions. Therefore using moxibustion is frequently warranted in the treatment of many illnesses and diseases.


Moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 also has the function of preventing diseases and maintaining health. In ancient China, this technique was known as reverse moxibustion. Even if a person is quite healthy, regular moxibustion on this point can invigorate healthy Qi and strengthen the immune system, thus increasing longevity.  Perhaps this is why the point has been nicknamed the “longevity point”.


As with acupuncture, only a licensed practitioner should be called upon for treatments such as moxibustion.


Valentines Day and Heart Health

Valentine’s Day, TCM and Heart Health


Every February men all over the world flock to the local flower shops and jewelry stores in search of the perfect bouquet or piece of jewelry to express their undying love to their significant other. Why?  Nobody knows for certain, but there are at least a couple of theories.


One theory is a Catholic priest, Valentine, was imprisoned for helping Christians escape Roman prisons.  While he imprisoned himself, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Allegedly, before his death, Valentine wrote a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”  Thus, the first Valentine’s Day card was created, or so it is reported.


However, like many contemporary holidays, Valentine’s Day probably has pagan roots. The pagan celebration of Lupercalia, celebrated at the ides of February, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus.  Faunus was the Roman god of agriculture. So it can be derived that from the pagan fertility festival, this was later watered down by the Church and turned into a festival of love. By the 1800s it had become common for friends and lovers to exchange gifts as tokens of affection. Shortly after that, the holiday became commercialized.


Where does Traditional Chinese Medicine fit in?  Well, it really doesn’t. However, in TCM, the heart houses the Shen. The Shen is sometimes described as the spirit, but it also includes the mind. During the winter months, when the hours of sunlight are short, the weather is typically colder and very little is growing; many people develop something known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. So perhaps, celebrating Valentine’s Day in the middle of winter is a way to keep our hearts healthy and our Shen lively. The feeling of love can permeate every cell of the body and mind. This can bring healing to those who are experiencing SAD, while helping to keep the heart healthy.


Heart health is extremely important. Without a healthy heart, the body does not function properly.  Just as equally important is the state of the mind. This is where TCM can be extremely beneficial.  Acupuncture, the main modality of TCM has been shown to help lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and calm the mind. There are specific acupuncture points and point prescriptions that can help the mind and the heart, which can strengthen the mind-body connection.


The emotion associated with the heart in TCM is joy. The heart is also the center of perception.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to experience joy, and it doesn’t have to be from a significant other.  Sharing special moments with those who are closest to us, friends, family, etc., helps to keep the heart full of joy. Even acts of “selfishness” can have profound effects on the mind, body and soul. Spending time alone can also keep the heart healthy, as it gives us time to reflect, relax and take in the beauty all around us.


So this year, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, don’t fret over trying to find the perfect card or gift.  Instead, try focusing attention on the people, places and things that bring joy to your life. Your heart will beat a little slower and your mind will be a little calmer.



Fighting Flu Season with Acupuncture

Fighting Flu Season with Acupuncture

While the flu is actually not a season, we have become programmed to think of it as the months of November through March. On average, the flu hospitalizes thousands every year, especially the young and elderly. There are also a number of deaths related to the flu, mostly due to people already having compromised immune systems.


The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a number of viruses. To date, there are approximately 26 to 30 different known strains of the flu virus. This is one of the reasons the flu vaccine has only mild efficacy. The flu vaccine itself, typically only covers five to seven strains of the flu.  Symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, a sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, pains, runny nose and watery eyes.


The good news is we can avoid the flu by implementing healthy habits and taking care of ourselves throughout the year. The best way to treat a disease is to avoid it.  Traditional Chinese Medicine is a great tool to have in the toolbox for preventing the flu.  Utilizing botanical Chinese formulas and acupuncture treatments can be very beneficial in keeping the flu at bay.


Regular acupuncture treatments help boost immunity, while balancing and regulating the body’s energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Several studies have shown acupuncture can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and shorten the length of time that somebody is ill.


TCM botanicals or herbs are also a great way to ward off the flu bug. Two herbs in particular are specified for strengthening Qi and boosting the immune system. The first is huang qi or astragalus and the other is dang shen or codonopsis. There are a couple of other herbs commonly used as antivirals too. These are ban lan gen (isatis root) and da qing ye (isatis leaf).



Along with TCM, there are other things we can utilize to avoid catching the flu. Regular exercise, ample sleep and a proper healthy diet are two of the best things anybody can use to stay disease-free. Exercising enough to break a sweat without overdoing it has been shown to reduce the incidence of the flu. So incorporating practices like tai chi, qi gong and yoga can actually reduce physical and emotional stress, while strengthening the immune system and preventing disease.


Eating a healthy diet is essential for preventing any disease, not just the flu. This includes eating a very balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Foods that contain beta-carotene are especially helpful at boosting the immune system.  Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and garlic are good examples of beta-carotene rich foods. Also drinking at least 64 ounces of water on a daily basis is highly recommended.  Ample fluid intake helps the body flush out invaders and toxins, while keeping the mucus membranes and upper respiratory tract healthy enough to fight off the virus.


Taking advantage of what TCM can offer, while incorporating healthy daily habits will insure this upcoming flu season passes by without wreaking havoc on any of us.



December 2016

Meridian Point for Winter: Large Intestine 4


Large Intestine 4 is one of the most important and influential points in the entire body. The Chinese name for Large Intestine 4 is “He Gu” meaning union valley or converging valley. The point is located on the hand in the web between the thumb and index finger, also described as the depression where the index finger and thumb bones part. This area of the hand is often described as “valley like” hence the name converging valley.


The large intestine has many important functions in the body. Connected to the Western medicine function of the large Intestine, it is vital in digestion and bowel regulation, but it also has many functions above and beyond that in Chinese medicine. The large intestine is associated with the emotions of sadness and grief, it can help build immunity as it works as a paired channel to the lung meridian and has a big effect of the flow of Qi and blood in the body.


Large Intestine 4 is a strong point for building the immune system and can be used for when someone has a cold or the flu. It can be used to treat febrile illnesses, rashes from wind or heat, allergic reactions causing rhinitis, as well as sore throat and difficulty swallowing. It is the command point of the face, nose, jaw and mouth and can be used to treat many problems associated with those. Toothaches and TMJ can be painful, but Large Intestine 4 can reduce the pain without even going near the affected areas. It is one of the main points for headaches and many people instinctively press it on their hand when they have a headache, without even realizing it is an acupuncture point. If someone has suffered a stroke, this point can help with paralysis and aid in recovery.


The large Intestine has a great effect on the flow of qi and blood in the body and Large Intestine 4 is a very strong point to get everything moving. Pain, in Chinese medicine, is often when the Qi and blood are stuck and Large Intestine 4 is critical to move this stagnation, especially when coupled with another point called Liver 3. Together, this pair of points is called The Four Gates and together they are a powerhouse in getting the Qi and blood circulated. They can effectively treat pain, depression, constipation, promote labor, expel retained placenta and help alleviate menstrual disorders caused by stagnation such as endometriosis.


Large Intestine 4 is contraindicated in pregnancy because it is so powerful and moving, but it can be effectively used to induce labor. Used in conjunction with another powerhouse acupuncture point Spleen 6, these two points are commonly used together to start labor, often with electroacupuncture to stimulate the points even more than needles alone.


Once labor has started, Large Intestine 4 can be used if labor is stalled or prolonged as well as used after childbirth to expel the placenta, decrease postpartum bleeding and decrease the time between childbirth and the discharge of the placenta.


Large Intestine 4 is an exceedingly influential point and one of the most commonly used points in acupuncture treatments. It can also be effective in treating a range of emotional issues such as depression, insomnia, stress, irritability and severe PMS. This point should not be underestimated and its alternative name of Tiger’s Mouth is barely descriptive of its strength in acupuncture treatments.



November 2016

Five Ways to Alleviate Insomnia



Insomnia is a phenomenon almost everybody experiences at some point in their life. And most of us don’t know how or why it happens.  Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, despite being tired. Combatting insomnia may be easier than you think. Here are five simple ways to fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night.


  1. Turn off your phone

In today’s society, we are almost surgically attached to our phones, iPads, laptops, etc. And while the devices keep us informed and connected, they are also harm us when it comes to our sleep.  Smartphones and other gadgets emit blue wavelengths. These wavelengths suppress the production of melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is a natural hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Also, the light given off by your devices can actually stimulate the mind, thus causing poor sleep. So as hard as it may be, buy a regular alarm clock and turn off the phone.


  1. Keep a sleep schedule

Sleep is just as important to proper health as eating healthy-wholesome foods. In other words, make sleep a priority. You don’t have to give up dinner with friends or that periodic concert, but staying out late every single night will eventually take its toll. Make a sleep schedule and do your best to stick to it.  Lack of sleep has been proven to increase blood pressure, depression, weight gain and stress. Why do this to yourself when you don’t have to? Once you set your sleep schedule, your body will react favorably.


  1. Meditation

How many of us groan when we hear the word “meditation”? Meditation really isn’t difficult but people constantly tell themselves it can’t be done because they can’t shut off their minds. But what most people don’t realize is the goal of meditation is not turning off your mind or your thoughts. Meditation helps you cope better while telling your sympathetic nervous system to relax. When the thoughts come in, you should acknowledge them but do not dwell on them. That’s what meditation helps you do. And there are many different types of meditation. For beginners, guided meditation tends to work best because you are listening to somebody guide you through the journey. Why not give it a try?


  1.  Bedtime Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that combines physical exercise, mental clarity and spiritual beliefs all rolled into one discipline. Bedtime yoga poses are very low-key and quite simple. Utilizing yoga just before going to bed can signal to your brain that slumber time is approaching. Poses such as forward bends, happy baby pose, cross-legged bends and corpse pose all have been shown to help the body prepare for restful sleep. Also for those who are a little more skilled, inversion poses like shoulder stands can help alleviate stress and calm the mind.



  1. Acupuncture

Really? Getting poked with needles will help me sleep better? The simple answer is YES!  Acupuncture works with your own body to help bring it back into balance. If you have stress, you have an imbalance.  Acupuncture needles are strategically placed on points that will calm the mind, balance hormones and settle the nervous system. Most people will notice some change after just one treatment, but to get the full effect and truly eliminate insomnia, you should commit to several treatments. And always seek out a properly trained and fully licensed acupuncturist to get the best results.


There are many other ways to fight insomnia too, but these are some of the best. Give these five methods a try and then focus on the ones that resonate with you. Over time, your body and mind will thank you and there won’t be any harsh side effects…just good sound sleep. Sweet dreams!


October 2016

How to Prepare For Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the seasons change you have to be ready for a change in mood, especially as we move from fall into winter. Although it may not seem as drastic of a shift as you think, it matters more to our mental and physical states than you may know. Seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect around 10 million Americans a year, and this isn’t even the full number of reported cases.


As we begin to lose the summer sun and transition into the darker months of the year, depression and fatigue seem to make that transition with us. But, there are ways to shake off the impending gloom and brighten your day, if you follow some of these steps you can combat seasonal affective disorder and find yourself being just as happy as you are in the warm summer months.


Try light therapy. Doctors have called this idea phase shifting. Because we lose sunlight so quickly as we head into the winter, you should start setting out bright lights when beginning your day. By eating breakfast and starting your daily routine under bright indoor lights, you get used to not having sunlight and can better acclimate to your new surroundings.


Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Regular exercise works wonder for depression in general, so why would it not work for SAD-induced depression? By maintaining regular exercise habits you can work to get rid of the fatigue, depression and tiredness by adding at least 60 minutes a day of activity into your life.


These next two ideas go hand in hand, as both work together to not only combat SAD, but promote a healthy lifestyle. Maintain a heart-healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. No brainers? Maybe. But, you would be surprised at the amount of people who do not follow both or one of these guidelines, I’m sure you know someone who fits into those categories. Make sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule while keeping up with a heart-healthy diet in order to fight seasonal affective disorder.


Last, but not least, try acupuncture! Acupuncture is a great solution to combating SAD. There are various points on the body that have been known to alleviate symptoms of SAD. A primary point that should be addressed when treating SAD is Yintang, and when being treated for SAD by an acupuncturist you should be seen between one to two times a week.


Try some of these techniques and you should have no problem battling and conquering the seasonal affective disorder that may be bothering you this winter.



September 2016

7 Ways to Communicate Healthy Habits to Your Kids

As the school year kicks back into gear so should the healthy habits that you and your children have before practiced. Notice how I said “practiced,” because we all know during the summer-vacation months we tend to indulge a little. Maybe you have had one too many backyard barbeques, or three too many trips to the favorite ice cream shop down the street. Whatever your summer vice may be don’t worry about it, you can regain those healthy habits from before and introduce them into your children’s lives!


  1. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.


Get everyone in the family moving, don’t just emphasize the idea of being active to your children without participating in the activities. In addition to making it fun for the whole family, exercising as a unit will allow you to interact with your child and help them stay healthy and active.


  1. Eat a Variety of Foods.


Don’t just stick to the same food regimen. Make sure you try a vast array of different nutrient-rich foods to boost the health of yourself and your children. There are many different vitamins and minerals out there, and if you just stick to the same old mac n’ cheese menu with the occasional lasagna, you are missing out on an abundance of healthy nutrients for your children!


  1. Limit the Screentime.


It is no stranger that we live in a world constantly absorbed by some type of technology. From work to leisure time, technology is present in our life in one shape or another almost 24/7. But, it is best to try and limit these habits. They promote a lifestyle with less movement and activity, it has been shown to lead to increased obesity and cardiovascular disease. So try and limit your child’s time behind the screen and get them moving.


  1. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast.


Fuel up! Before you send the kiddos off to school and bring yourself into your favorite place aka work, make sure to create a nutritious breakfast. A breakfast loaded with carbohydrates, milk, cereal and fruits is a great way to regain all the energy lost from the previous day.


  1. Pick Rewarding Rewards for Your Kids.


Sometimes parents tend to reward a job well done or the completion of chores with a trip to the ice cream shop, some candy or a new video game (if you’re feeling really generous). Change the types of rewards and incentives you present to your children. Maybe take them on an excursion to their favorite park, or another outdoor adventure, whatever you decide make sure it is creative and helps to influence healthy habits in your children.


  1. Eat Fruits and Vegetables with Every Meal!


We have already emphasized the importance of eating healthy, but there should also be a frame of reference for what this means. One way to encourage healthy eating is to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. A neat way to do this is to have fruits and vegetables as a snack during every meal period.


  1. Be the Best Role Model.


Your children tend to emulate and copy they way you behave, so why not exhibit healthy habits that they can catch on to and then practice themselves. Be the best role model possible for your children and work together as the both of you craft and practice healthy habits for the new school year and beyond.

August 2016

Olympians Who Receive Acupuncture How and Why



It has been shown that acupuncture can help the body in many ways. From repairing the digestive system to boosting Qi, enhancing athletic performance to mending strains and sprains, acupuncture has many uses and most of these uses are beneficial for professional athletes.

As the Olympics in Rio get closer and closer with each passing day athletes are beginning to fine tune their bodies for the upcoming events. Every athlete wants to be at their top performance level as they put everything on the line for their country. Acupuncture is one key some Olympians use to achieve that extra competitive edge and get their physical and mental aspects ready for the games. Some of the biggest names on the Olympic stage are making acupuncture part of their health regimen.

In 2012, during the London Olympics, acupuncture was widely acknowledged in the Olympic community as an extremely beneficial solution to guaranteeing a higher level of athletic performance. Since London, more and more Olympic athletes have been turning to the needle to and have been receiving excellent results.

Wang Qun, an Olympic swimmer for the Chinese team has been known to perform in events with cupping marks still present on her skin. Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves applying heated glass cups to the skin to encourage smooth energy flow; it stimulates your Qi as the cups are placed along the meridian lines of your body. In addition to Qun, other members of the Chinese Olympic Team use acupuncture, most notably being windsurfer Yin Jian, a gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics. Jian attributed nightly acupuncture with helping her achieve success and curing the muscle strains she experienced on a daily basis.

Acupuncture isn’t solely practiced by the Chinese Olympic Team. This form of traditional Chinese medicine has made its way to Olympians from the U.S. and Canada as well. Bronze medalist and track-athlete Dee Dee Trotter used daily visits from her local acupuncturist to help her unlock the potential needed to win third place in the 400-meter run at the London Olympic Games.

Mark McMorris, a Canadian snowboarder, upped his game with acupuncture before his bronze-medal finish at the Sochi Olympics. After injuring his body during the X games weeks prior to the Olympics, McMorris began to attend acupuncture sessions to recalibrate his body, and by the results shown, we know it worked. McMorris went on to perform outstandingly in the Slopestyle event and brought back the bronze medal for the Canadian Olympic Team.

See, acupuncture is beneficial in many ways. Although you may be hesitant to stray away from the trusted and commonplace forms of Western medicine, you should really consider giving acupuncture a try. If it wasn’t enough that one in every 10 U.S. adults have tried acupuncture, just consider the facts, even the pros are doing it to recover, enhance and overall better their body.

July 2016

6 Truths About the Not-so-sweet Side of Sugar

A study published by the JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than 70 percent of Americans consume more than the recommended daily amount of sugar. Sadly, most of us are addicted to sugar, which happens to be hidden in most of the foods and drinks we consume. Added sugar can cause a whole array of problems that can be short term as well as long term. If you are experiencing health problems, lowering your sugar intake may be one of your best options. Below are 10 truths about the ugly side of sweets.


No nutrients

Refined sugar has no nutritional value and it is recommended to consume as little as possible. The first step in eliminating sugar is from drinks such as soda, juice and mixed alcoholic drinks. Because of the large amounts of sweetener in these drinks, it can make them very addictive and hard to quit drinking.


Harms your liver

Sugar can be just as damaging on your liver as alcohol and lead to fatty liver disease. When you consume too much fructose, your body becomes insulin resistant resulting in various problems that can cause disease.


Raises cholesterol

One study done in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who ate the highest levels of added sugars showed the biggest increase in bad cholesterol levels and triglyceride blood fats and the lowest levels in the good cholesterol levels.


Leading cause of obesity

In America, sugar is one of the leading culprits of obesity. It is estimated that 80 percent of food products in the U.S. contain added sugar. The best way to lose weight and lower your risk of obesity is to eliminate all processed foods and drinks.


Bad for your teeth

It should be a no-brainer that sugar is bad for your teeth. You may remember growing up having the dentist tell you as a kid to eat less candy to prevent cavities. As an adult, we know it’s not only candy that will cause cavities, but sugar that is found in your favorite drinks and everyday foods as well. Best way to sustain healthy teeth and gums? Cut the processed and refined sugar.


Can lead to type 2 diabetes

When your body is consuming too much sugar, your glucose levels become too high, which can be toxic to the body. When this happens, your body has a harder time producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. This can then lead to type 2 diabetes.





June 2016

Acupuncture and PTSD

PTSD is a physiological disorder that can result from being exposed to a traumatic event.  The disorder results in several different symptoms including anxiety, irritability, insomnia and flashbacks. The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in someone’s life can be far reaching.  Feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair, problems at work or with relationships, serious health problems, depression, anxiety and drug or alcohol abuse are not uncommon. Getting help can be hard at first, but can have a great impact for helping PTSD.


A recent study into the efficacy of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has shown promising results. Researchers investigated the effects of acupuncture in adjunct to normal treatment approaches and the results showed significant improvement. Studies in the past have shown that veterans with PTSD are wary of seeking treatment for PTSD as many do not believe that mental healthcare can be effective. Researchers hope that with the increased efficacy of the adjunctive acupuncture treatment, veterans will be less reticent towards seeking treatment for PTSD.


The acupuncture treatment also saw secondary benefits for those treated as many reported a decrease in depression and pain as well as a general improvement in mental and physical well-being. PTSD can be debilitating and even more so with little or no treatment.

The Military Stress Recovery Project (MSRP) is a unique program that provides free community acupuncture to veterans and active duty soldiers with PTSD and their family members.


Treatment in a MSRP clinic is unique for several reasons.  Patients are treated in a group setting, sitting in comfortable chairs.  There is an environment of calm and support. The patients are treated using the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, a series of 5 needles placed in one ear. The program is designed to address all the needs of people with PTSD.


The MSRP clinics have been very successful.  Patients report stress reduction, improved mental clarity, improved energy, enhanced performance, better sleep, fewer bad dreams and headaches, less anxiety and depression, reduced anger and pain, improved general health and better relationships.


Those suffering from PTSD should consult a doctor about treatment and discuss the option of acupuncture as well because it has been proven to help.