Welcome to the Rose City Acupuncture blog!

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1) To the left are the “top articles” that people read the most.

2) Below that, you’ll find articles categorized by topic. I’m big on self-care, so one of the topics is “Acupressure YOU can use.”

3) Use the SEARCH bar (upper left) to seek for something you’re curious about.

4) Please feel free to leave comments/questions!

Acupuncture for Fertility

I’ve been using acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy support with my patients for years. My success rate is fairly high – I like to joke that “I get girls pregnant like a boss!” – due in large part to a brilliant set of classes I had at OCOM, the #1 acupuncture school in the nation. We learned about all the different ways bodies can slip out of balance, and how to correct them. In the OB/GYN focused classes, we looked at how to coax the menstrual cycle back to regularity. We studied methods to encourage uterine wellness and the father’s vitality, too. We learned how to support a pregnant woman’s body, and treat any pain she might have, without using the moving* points that could bring on a miscarriage. Of course, we learned the points we shouldn’t use with a pregnancy, and the one to bring on a “Precocious Baby” – that one you needle at the change of each trimester. As the due date approaches, we can turn a breech baby. We can even evict an overdue one – something that’s helped a few of my patients avoid a medical inducement.

Acupuncture for fertility is less expensive and less invasive than IVF and IUI!

Acupuncture for fertility is less expensive and less invasive than IVF and IUI, and highly sucessful.

But before we can worry about maintaining the health of a pregnancy, sometimes we have to use acupuncture for fertility to get us there. My patients have ranged from young, healthy women who were just eager to start their families, to older ladies who had endured unsuccessful IVF. In 10 years of practice, I’ve only ever had two women fail to get pregnant. One turned out to have fallopian blockages. The other is still trying (after taking a year-long break), but has some complications we’re working with.

Part of being a good practitioner is constant learning. I am taking a Continuing Education class now on acupuncture for fertility, and one of the big takeaways for me is how early you should start. I generally like a few months to even out the hormones and regulate the cycle, but this latest class pointed out something interesting about our eggs. They start to stir from their life-long slumber about 5 months before they are released. To truly give them the best blood flow and hormonal support, treatments should be ongoing during this ramp-up period.

“The dormant follicle is awakened from it’s primordial state of rest about 5 months before it will be selected for ovulation. It is at this time that the egg will start reacting with its environment. […] Hormone regulating factors in the ovary start to influence the content of the follicular fluid. Blood flow, nourishment and hormonal cues within the body influence the state of follicular fluid. Regulatory proteins, hormones and growth factors begin to appear about the time the egg starts to undergo division 3 months before it is released. If nourishment is poor, hormonal cues have been interrupted, or if the blood flow has been compromised the egg has less chance of being healthy. The egg’s health is determined during the growth phase when protein synthesis occurs.” Treatment of IVF and IUI with Acupuncture & Herbs, Sophie Butcher, LAc, FABORM

I’ve also learned a fantastic massage technique to shunt more bloodflow to the reproductive system. I can teach you this, so your partner can do it for you every day.

So… if you are looking to make a new human, think ahead. Stop smoking and drinking (yes, BOTH parents) a little earlier than expected. Clean up your diet so that egg gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs. And of course, if you need some help, acupuncture for fertility is a great option. It’s both less expensive and less invasive than IVF and IUI.

I’d love to help you grow your family!

*Chinese medicine considers most pain to be a form of energy (Qi) and/or blood stagnation. Points that move Qi and blood to clear that stagnation are extremely useful – but can be dangerous while carrying a child.

Minimal shoes on sale at Soft Star

Hey all you heathy feet fans – Soft Star (a soft leather shoe company in Corvallis) is having their annual clearance sale! Check their sizing charts and read carefully – no returns on these!AdultCategoryLanding

I am not associated with Soft Star in any way. I just like their style. :)

Update: I bought these two! The moccasins are fleece-lined. :)

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The “Dash”

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The “Moccasin”

 

I’ll grant you that they aren’t the most professional looking, but they ARE comfy (after about 20 min of breaking them in) and good for your feet. The brown ones have the advantage for me of sort-of working for my historic habit. My persona is a Roman matron in 50 BC, and her clothes are supposed to cover most of her feet. The toes peeking out are exactly like a period Roman shoe!

The perfect Valentine’s gift…

heart rosesI have pretty gift certificates to give to your sweetie… or hint to your sweetie that’s what you’d love… or just to treat yourself! Available in any denomination or for any service – the perfect Valentine’s gift!

To make it extra easy, I can email you an invoice that’s secure and payable by credit card. Or you can swing by the office!

Returning Veterans Project

I just submitted my Returning Veterans Project stats for the year (they get government funding based on our hours). I treat vets suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other mental and physical injuries that prevent them from returning to a happy, productive life. This is a free service provided by healthcare practitioners like me in WA and OR who feel we need to do more to support out troops *after* they come home. Honestly, the VA isn’t equipped to help these kids and I feel like somebody has to!

This year I donated 76.5 hours, for a total of 359 since I started in 2011. That makes me really happy. If you want to help, too, contact them directly or use the donation box in my waiting room. :)

Daith piercings

I’m getting a lot of questions about daith piercings that supposedly help you lose weight or stop migraines. These are a bad idea.

1) Piercers are NOT licensed to practice medicine. There is a reason we go to school for all those years, have to pass national tests, and maintain state licenses. They don’t know how much they don’t know.

2) They are using the WRONG points! Here’s an actual map of the ear:

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

There are about 100 points on the ear. Millimeters matter  – sloppy “daith piercing” placement by an inexperienced piercer is asking for trouble!

Here’s that migraine article again. It contains a better set of acupressure points you can use yourself.

3) Metal piercings will cause more stagnation and problems long term. Read this.

This is why you’ll see articles online talking about mixed results with daith piercings. The problem isn’t with acupuncture…. it’s that they aren’t using acupuncture! Even professional piercers admit they are not a legitimate treatment method.

Free Class: Acupressure for Digestive Health

PC-6, excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress.

PC-6 – excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress – one of the many points we’ll be learning about in the free class.

I’ll be teaching a free class on self-care – Acupressure for Digestive Health – Saturday, Oct 3rd at the Natural Grocers at 12155 SW Broadway St, Beaverton, OR 97005. The class is 11-12:30. Come join us!

“Learn about digestion from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We’ll discuss some handy acupressure points you can use at home to deal with reflux/ heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s disease, gastroparesis, gastritis, and blood sugar variations.”

 

New location!

The office is moving on September 7th to the Cascade West building:

12655 SW Center Street, 
Suite 530
Beaverton, OR 97005 
The new space has generous parking, is air conditioned and ADA accessible, close to bus and MAX lines… it even has a gorgeous view, and I don’t just mean the lovely massage therapist, Sally Leonard, who will be working with me!

Until the construction is finished, I will be seeing patients as usual in my SE office (3806 SE Belmont St). 

Heartburn / Acid Reflux

What causes heartburn?

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn can be terrible. My patients often come in complaining of a string of miserable nights when nothing can calm the burning in their chests. The ache can extend to the throat and jaw.* Acid reflux is more than just annoying. If left untreated for years, you can develop Barret’s Esophagus and eventually cancer. Soothing the pain has become a mega-industry, but heartburn is NOT a symptom of a pharmaceutical deficiency.

 

 

Basic reflux defense:

Avoid alcohol, spicy or greasy foods, tomatoes, citrus, chocolate, and mint.

Sleep with an extra pillow to keep your esophagus above your stomach.

Don’t eat large meals or late in the evening.

Stimulate PC-6. You can do acupressure on yourself.

Use apple cider vinegar.

It seems counter-intuitive to drink vinegar (acetic acid) when your throat is on fire, but it works. Here’s why: Often, the stomach isn’t making *enough* stomach acid. The sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach is signalled to close tight by the presence of acid. If it doesn’t cinch up, the weak acid you do have will escape upwards.

I can’t vouch for all the claimed “miracles” of apple cider vinegar (ACV), but it’s a powerful tool for fighting heartburn. In addition to providing the acidic signal, high quality ACV also contains probiotics that make your gut healthier. This is why you want the cloudy stuff in a glass bottle (Bragg’s) not the cheap clear supermarket brand in the plastic bottle.

Bragg-Organic-Apple-CIder-VinegarShake the bottle until the gross-looking glop becomes a uniform cloudiness. Pour a finger or two of the ACV into a glass, then dilute it to about 3-4 inches with water. Chug it down and follow with tooth brushing or at least a serious rinsing to protect your tooth enamel. Within seconds your heartburn should dissipate. Some just use it as needed – when symptoms appear. More diligent people drink it every day.

* Heart attack symptoms are sometimes confused for heartburn, which is why it’s important to get checked out by a doctor, especially if you are at risk or have heart disease in your family history.

The Science of Acupuncture

I get asked all the time… “How does acupuncture work?” Modern science is catching up with 10,000 year old acupuncture. I’ve said for years that we just don’t have the method for seeing the structures yet – just as we didn’t understand the minute complexities of the human body – or imagine MRIs! – 200 years ago. It looks like we are slowly figuring it out! Here are a handful of recent articles exploring the science of acupuncture. These are just the ones that I stumbled across. If I had to time to do an exhaustive search this would be a much longer blog post. :)

From the first article below: Oxygen pressure is higher at acupuncture points!

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 Acupuncture Biochemically Reduces Pain and Inflammation

MRI Reveals Acupuncture Modulates Brain Activity

CT Scans Reveal Acupuncture Points

New Brain Study – Acupuncture Fights Depression

Acupuncture Holds Promise for Treating Inflammatory Disease

Acupuncture Beats Gabapentin for Hot Flashes in RCT

Acupuncture as effective as drugs in treating pain, trial shows

Biological Evidence for the Existence of Acupuncture Meridians inside lymphatic vessels

Curtin researchers unlock the scientific reasons why acupuncture works – C fibers (nerve branches)

But what about “all those studies” that show it’s not effective?

First of all, there are plenty of studies that prove it works. Insurance companies (even the conservative ones) now cover needles for neck and back pain, because studies have specifically proved it, although some deny claims for, say, shoulder pain, because it hasn’t specifically been studied. Makes me want to roll my eyes. Ug.

Secondly, many of the studies that “prove” it doesn’t work are deeply flawed. They have doctors doing a few recipe points they learned in a 20 – 300hr class, rather than an actual acupuncturist. Sometimes the points they choose are completely mystifying to me – not only do they leave out important ones, but there are always one or two just make no sense at all.

Thirdly, TCM differentiates the cause of disease, but lots of studies don’t. You can have a headache due to Yang rising, or Heart xu (deficiency). When a study gives the same treatment to everyone with a headache, of course it’s not effective! The western medical equivalent is putting people with viruses, bacterial infections, and allergies in one group, giving them all an antibiotic, then declaring that drugs don’t work for runny noses.

There are other problems too, like “sham” acupuncture doing “too well” so there isn’t a statistically significant difference. In one study I read back in school, they basically compared acupressure to acupuncture… then declared nothing worked since they both did. That’s just bad study design. There should have been a third control group with no treatment.
equine acupuncture

Equine acupuncture points from the Bagyuiho (Chinese horse and cow acupuncture text), 1399

And that whole placebo thing? It may play a part, as it does with every medical procedure, but it’s not the whole story. In other states (where it was legal without a vet supervising) I have successfully treated animals – there’s no placebo effect there! When a dog, lying limply on the floor and moaning, after 15 min of needles is bouncing up and down, jumping to kiss her owner’s face… that’s not a placebo. Neither is a rabbit regaining bladder and bowel control after a spinal injury. Of course those are anecdotal evidence, but they’re pretty compelling when they repeatedly happen in front of you. Googling for animal studies quickly gave me a whole new batch of data: Horses are studied most often because they have money-making “careers.”
I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m not sold on some of the more esoteric aspects of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I don’t twirl my needles in a specific direction, for example. Thousands of years ago, when it was developed, there was philosophy as well as medicine involved, and like all ancient sciences, it could use a little update. But acupuncture itself is amazing. It stimulates neuromuscular junctions, which resets neurons (nerves control muscles, which in turn pull on bones). This helps break the cycle of spasms, or activate a non-firing muscle bundle. It reduces inflammation. It distracts nerve receptors and blocks transmission of pain signals. It helps break up fascial adhesions. With older, chronic problems it creates a microtrauma and alerts the body to a “cold case,” which restarts healing. It’s tremendous for nerve repair – check out my paper on stroke recovery. I’ve seen some truly stunning results from people who were locked inside their bodies, long after Western medical science said there would be no more improvement.

“Yang rising headaches,” is just a term for a diagnosis. It’s no more mysterious than “orthostatic hypotension’” for example, if you understand the language of TCM. The articles above show that we are just starting to understand how points work anatomically. I am confident that science will catch up and we’ll have a clear understanding of this system within my lifetime.

The good news is that it doesn’t really matter whether you believe acupuncture works… because it’s medicine, not voodoo, and it will anyway. :) The science of acupuncture is still evolving, but its effectiveness is clear.