Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What Do I Do With This Kid? – Tips for frazzled holiday parents

With all of the other current stresses: your job, the economy, the in-laws, etc. it can seem insurmountable to add to that children who just won’t behave. Then the question becomes, what can I do about it?

What many parents don’t realize is that there is a great deal that can be done with acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help children with behavioral issues. Children are actually easier to treat and quicker to respond than adults. The same conditions acupuncture treats in adults, such as depression, difficulty focusing, insomnia, excessive nightmares, hyperactivity, poor impulse control can also be treated in children. Treatment can at times replace the need for medication or lessen the dosage. (In cases where a child is on medication, the overseeing physician will need to work with the acupuncturist and any other health professionals.)

Treatment for children often involves electro-stimulation with or without needles depending on the child and severity of the condition. Ear acupressure, where tiny magnets are placed on specific points on the ear, diet therapy, and Chinese herbs are also given.

Aside from more serious issues, it is important to remember that children are very sensitive to their environment. All of the stresses you feel they are feeling as well, but with less ability to cope properly. There are a few tricks you can use at home that will remedy more minor behavior issues.

Acupressure, or massaging specific points on the body, is very helpful to calm the mind as well as increase the bond between parent and child. The area between the eyes, what we call "Yin Tang" is very effective to quiet the mind. Simply begin at the bridge of the nose and use slow, firm pressure with your finger and slide up to the hairline. Repeat 3 times. Then place both thumbs between the eyebrows and slowly press out to the temples. Return to the center, but slightly higher than the eyebrows this time, and gently press out to the hairline. Repeat, moving slightly higher each time until you have covered the whole forward. You can finish with a little scalp rub. The key is to have calm energy yourself, and to move slowly and deliberately. You are not only stimulating the acupressure points, you are teaching your child how to stay calm in a stressful situation.

Massaging the feet helps to ground the energy of the body. It is perfect right before bed to promote restful sleep. It is also used for headaches and hyperactivity. Rub the feet using firm, slow pressure. End with Kidney 1, located on the sole of the foot. It is in the center of the foot, just under the ball of the foot (I will send you diagrams of the points). Kidney 1 is the most grounding point on the body and is excellent to calm the energy down when someone is stressed or fearful.

An easy tea to relieve stress is made from rose buds (Mei Gui Hua). Bring a cup and a half of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Put a handful of rose buds in the water, cover and steep for ten minutes. Another easy tea is made from the flowers of the Floss Silk tree (He Huan Hua) which are prevalent in Southern California. Use the same procedure as for the rose buds. These teas are very safe and can be taken as often as needed.

When You Just Can’t Help Yourself - Home Tips to Combat Holiday Overeating

Right in the middle of the time when we are busy with our jobs, kids, and families, and with the current additional economic stress, come the barrage of holiday parties where we have to look great and be at our best. At the most stressful time of year you will be constantly tested, by the extra cookies and goodies that miraculously appear at the office to the never-ending holiday parties chocked full of every sinful food imaginable. Is it humanly possible to resist?

Combating cravings involves a two pronged approach: short-term fixes to help you get through right now and long-term fixes where you correct the underlying imbalance.

Many of the measures that would curb cravings are not always easy or even possible to follow. For example, getting adequate rest alone will cut out a great deal of overeating scenarios. When we are overworked or over tired our bodies naturally gravitate towards quick fuel sources like ice cream and potato chips. Another commonly quoted tip is to never allow yourself to get really hungry. This is another time when we make poor food choices. Before you go to a party or family get together make sure you are not famished.

So you know all of that, but what do you do if you have young kids and/or a demanding job, or what if you’d love to take the time to get balanced and eat right but you need something that will work for tomorrow night? Thankfully there are a few things you can do.

Make an appointment to see a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist for ear acupressure. Ear acupressure works in a similar way to reflexology in that the ears are a microcosm of the body. Stimulating various tiny points on the ears will affect changes in different parts of the body. Ear acupressure has been studied in depth by Western scientists who have even devised a specific protocol called the NADA protocol used in the treatment of addiction, by both detoxifying the body and inhibiting cravings.

Ear acupressure doesn’t hurt and doesn’t pierce the skin. Tiny seeds or magnets are placed on specific points with clear tape. They will stay there for 3-4 days. Simply massage your ear throughout the day as you remember. The whole appointment takes 10-15 min. and you are on your way. This simple treatment is amazingly powerful and you will find that rather than fighting yourself out of a Christmas cookie you will simply not be interested.

Before you leave you will also want to pick up a bottle of Chinese herbal pills that you acupuncturist will pick out specifically for you. These herbs will start addressing the cause of why you get into trouble. Are you low on energy? Or stressed out? Is your absorption poor? The proper herbs will help resolve this, and being in pill form they are easy to take. A popular formula given at this time of year, for example, is Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. This formula addresses stress, inflammation, digestive weakness, and slight anemia, all common causes of gnawing cravings.

Now these are short-term fixes and will not be enough long-term. Long-term change requires an understanding of why your body is craving certain foods. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, cravings arise from an internal imbalance in the body. Cravings can be divided into 2 categories: cravings for sweets or for salty foods.

Cravings for sweets relates to a weakness in digestion and blood deficiency. An effective acupressure point is St 36. This point strengthens digestion, absorption, and builds the blood. Locate the point just below the knee, just lateral to the shin bone.

Cravings for salty foods indicates Kidney deficiency. A powerful point to strengthen the kidneys is KD 6. This point helps to increase stamina, aids in restful sleep, and smoothes urination. Locate it by feeling just under the medial ankle bone. Feel for a tint hollow that is tender to the touch.

To truly correct this problem you will need to consult a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who will perform regular acupuncture, suggest the proper herbs, and give a dietary guideline to follow. At first, natural medicine will seem demanding, requiring lifestyle changes and tuning into your own body, with positive results coming more gradually than when taking medication, but you will find that you also will experience no side effects and that changes will be permanent because you took the trouble to fix the problem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Benefits of Massage

We all appreciate how a massage makes us feel. It relaxes us. It takes away our aches and pains. What many people don't know is how important getting a massage regularly is for health maintenance.

For the average healthy person:
Massage has a regulatory effect on the body. It can help a hyperactive child (or adult) calm down and be able to focus. Massage releases endorphins and helps allay stress, depression, and anxiety. It enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow.

For the expectant mother:
It is crucial for the health of mother and baby for the mother to take good care of herself during pregnancy and after giving birth. This includes getting massages regularly. This will help with lymph drainage, reducing the discomfort associated with water retention. Massage will also alleviate the typical aches and pains, reduce stress, and encourage shorter, easier labor.

For the athlete:
Regular massage help your muscles recover faster from exercising and working out. It increases muscle and joint flexibility. Massage also softens injured, tired, and overused muscles.

For those with chronic pain:
Massage increase circulation, improves range of motion, and alleviates pain. It can help balance weak, tight, or atrophied muscles. Regular massage can ease medication dependence.

Regular massage is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, just like adequate exercise and a proper diet. It will help reduce a buildup of stress, tension, and congestion that can lead to more serious health problems in the future.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Importance of Bitter

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, good health is dependent upon eating a variety of foods. Specifically, eating the five flavors daily. The 5 flavors are: pungent, salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. Many Americans eat an excess of sweet flavored foods leading to congestion. The flavor that is often most missing is bitter.

Bitter tasting foods clear inflammation and damp/mucous accumulations. It is excellent for those who are overweight or suffer from acne for example. Examples of bitter foods are: turnips, romaine lettuce, and asparagus. Bitter Melon is one of the most bitter foods consumed regularly by people. It is an acquired taste but works amazingly well to detoxify the body and balance those who indulge in excesses of sweet foods.

A simple recipe for bitter melon is to stir fry it with eggs:
1. Slice the bitter melon in half and remove the seeds.
2. Slice into thin pieces.
3. Heat oil in a skillet.
4. Add bitter melon slices and eggs.
5. Stir until eggs are cooked.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. is a website dedicated to the benefits of this vegetable.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Real Food

I was spoiled as a child. My dad had grown up on a farm so we always had a good size vegetable garden in the backyard. My mom made the majority of our food from scratch. I can trace the exacerbation of my health problems as a teen went I started eating more processed foods. As a young adult I went back to eating the way I had as a child but I haven't had the time to maintain my own garden and I really missed the difference in quality. This had been my dilemna for a while.

I drove up to what looked like an old time market at the Poway Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. I went up to Jr Organic's booth and picked up my bin of weekly vegetables. While I was there I also picked up a dozen of some of the best eggs I've ever had for $2.50 and a bunch of beautiful flowers for $4. I joined a CSA 2 weeks ago and now I’ll never go back.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It basically allows small farms to sell directly to consumers. These farms can grow food in an ethical and healthy way, like avoiding pesticides and rotating crops to avoid soil depletion. It also supports family-owned local farms. The vegetables are picked that day so everything is very fresh. It is also the cheapest way to buy organic foods. Another added benefit is that the people who sell and buy there are very friendly. It makes you feel like you are part of a community. Warning: The vegetables aren’t as pretty but they definitely taste better.

In terms of Chinese nutrition each food has its own properties, and diet is adjusted according to the seasons and one’s constitution. As a general category low glycemic vegetables tend to clear heat, detoxify, and build yin and blood. High glycemic vegetables are qi tonics. In order to be healthy it is crucial that the food we eat be healthy and free of toxins.

Two wonderful references on Chinese nutrition are Paul Pitchfork’s Healing with Whole Foods and Maoshing Ni’s The Dao of Nutrition.

For a list CSA's go o Local Harvest or Eat Wild.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Qigong – Exercising Your Qi

Qigong refers to exercises that promote the proper flow of qi, or vital energy, in the body. This term is an umbrella term for a wide variety of exercises including meditation, Dao-In (Chinese Yoga), Tai Chi, and breathing techniques. Its definition could be extended to include exercises cross-culturally that provide similar benefits. Qigong is the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practice of qigong is an integral part of excelling as an acupuncturist and health maintenance for everyone.

Self-cultivation through a qigong practice is often part of an acupuncturist’s training. The concept of qi is difficult to grasp for Westerners. Qi is often translated as “vital energy” or “bioelectric energy” but this there is no English term that truly conveys its meaning. Qi is the “prana” of the Indian tradition. It is insubstantial. Its healthy flow powers the healthy function of our bodies. Feeling qi move through your body takes seemingly abstract, metaphorical concepts such as “meridian” or “yin and yang” and makes them into real, practical terms.

Short, simple qigong exercises are often given as homework to patients by their acupuncturists in order to empower them to make positive changes in their health themselves. The following is a qigong exercise I have given to my patients. This exercise is particularly important for women after giving birth to recuperate the proper flow of the channels. It is taken from the book Ancient Wisdom from a Modern Master; The Healing Art of Qi Gong by Master Hong Liu, which I often suggest to my patients.


· Powerful Longevity exercise.

· God for male/female problems (prostate, sexual dysfunction, cancer, menstrual, UTI, yeast infections, etc.)

· Don’t do in a car or place you may get distracted. Focus is very important during the exercise.

· Don’t have sex immediately before or after doing exercise (though it may provoke sexual energy)

How To Do The Breathing

Sit on the end of a chair or stool with perineum off the edge of the chair. (Egyptian stance).

Inhale, pull perineum (and only the perineum) into the body, hold (2 seconds) and exhale completely (release while exhaling). Focus on the perineum during the exercise.

Release completely or it may exacerbate problems.

Women -24 breaths (Numbers based on the I-Ching)
Men - 36 breaths .

Chong Mai goes through the energy centers, chakras - all the endocrine glands (helps balance hormones).

Why I Became an Acupuncturist

I was not raised to believe in anything that deviated from modern Western Medicine. My grandfather and uncle were MD's and my father was an engineer so anything "unscientific" was completely discounted. I credit my own healing crisis with changing how I view health and my personal responsibility for it.

I had always been a very healthy child. Around puberty I began having bizarre symptoms. I had joint pain, migraine headaches, menstrual problems, hair loss, and other seemingly unrelated issues. It wasn't until I was 17 that I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma (a tiny tumor in the pituitary gland). I was faced with a laser procedure to remove it that could damage the entire gland. Out of desperation, my mom took to me to see an acupuncturist, one of the few they had in North Carolina at the time. My health turned around completely in 3 months. A year later I went back and did another MRI and there was no adenoma.

After my experience my mom began seeing our acupuncturist. To make a long story short, after I finished college my mom and I decided to attend acupuncture school together and to open our clinic together. We want to give other people the opportunity we had to transform our health.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lost in Translation

There is a great deal of confusion as to what to call what we do. We are called "acupuncturists" but acupuncture is only one modality utilized in our medicine. Herbal medicine, massage, nutrition, moxibustion, gua sha, cupping to name a few therapies, evolved together over centuries into what today constitutes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The term TCM is also problematic.

TCM, Oriental Medicine(OM), Chinese Medicine, and Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) are often used interchangeably. The medicine originated in China and was exported over the years to neighboring countries which modified and developed their own styles. Currently Traditional Chinese Medicine is what is emphasized in most American acupuncture schools with Japanese and Korean styles being also very popular.

At our clinic, we received the foundation of our training at a lineage-based, Chinese owned school. However, our current needling style is influenced by Japanese acupuncture. The term Oriental Medicine has often been used to give credit to other traditions based on TCM that evolved in the counties surrounding China that are often used by American practitioners. However, currently many are trying to change the term to the more politically correct Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM).We choose to use the term TCM, though it continues to be a problematic term, because it is the most popular and commonly understood term for our medicine.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What Schooling is Required to Practice Acupuncture?

This varies a great deal by state and the titles are confusing. In the state of California, where I practice, 3,000 hours at an accredited school are required as well as passing a rigorous state board exam. The school I attended in California required 3,600 hours to graduate and I was awarded a Masters in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The curriculum includes Traditional Chinese Medical theory, extensive courses on Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, Western Science classes, Qigong, and more. From the state I have the title Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.). This is a bit confusing as we do a great deal more than acupuncture, including suggest herbs.

A professional doctorate is just recently being offered. It requires an additional 2,500 hours and a Capstone project. Completing the program awards you the title of Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and allows an acupuncturist to legally call himself/herself "Dr."

The titles become confusing as acupuncturists migrate from state to state and bring with them their old titles. In New Mexico, for example, the title for a licensed acupuncturist is Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM), even though the licensing requirements are comparable to the Masters' requirements in California. For specific information on licensing requirements in your state look at