Why Do Acupuncturists Want to See Your Tongue?

A colleague of mine helped run a study on the use of acupuncture to treat depression. As part of the record-keeping, each patient’s file included photos of their tongue, along with other information from the intake and follow-up assessments.

This acupuncturist found herself at a table with a bunch of researchers, psychiatrists, and medical doctors, who were puzzled by this. My friend picked up a tongue photo without looking at the file, and said: “She has a weepy, sad kind of depression, with lots of worry and obsessive thinking that keeps her awake at night. She also has fatigue, a heavy, stuck feeling where it feels physically hard to move. Continue reading

Does Your Insurance Cover Acupuncture?

Slowly, as acupuncture becomes more more accepted by the Western medical community, health insurance coverage for acupuncture is growing.

The reasons for this are many. More and more studies are being published that validate the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions, and consumers increasingly want — and will shop around for — health plans that cover acupuncture.

Recent health care reforms that emphasize cost-effective treatment will accelerate this trend. Compared with most of Western medicine, acupuncture is a low-tech, low-cost way to deal with many health conditions. Indications are that insurance companies would save significantly by covering acupuncture, especially for conditions such as back pain, migraines, and infertility. Continue reading

No, You’re Not “Just Getting Old”

Years ago, my co-worker’s daughter turned 17. For some reason this was a hard birthday for her and she complained to her mom that she felt really old. My friend couldn’t help laughing, but her daughter looked her straight in the eye and said, “Mom, I know it doesn’t seem old to you. But this is the oldest I have ever been in my whole entire life!!”

I love this story. And I love it because she spoke the truth. That sentence is, in fact, true all the time for all of us — we are always older than we’ve ever been before. Continue reading

Acupuncture Support for New Moms (Dads too!)

Traditional Chinese medicine has a very clear and simple prescription for the postpartum period: the new mother should stay in bed for three months.

I was astonished to hear this from my traditionally-trained Chinese herbal professor. And it turns out, that’s literal. A woman who just gave birth is to stay in bed, have her food brought to her, and not even bathe for three months. Others in the family take care of the baby, and bring it the mother for feeding and sleeping.

When I tell this to people in my office, they usually burst out laughing. The contrast between that scene, and what is actually happening, is so stark.  Continue reading

Sick of Antibiotics? Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Can Help

A lot of people come into my office who have taken a lot of antibiotics.

Often it’s for a sinus infection, which mostly resolves, followed by another sinus infection, and so on. Sometimes it’s for a urinary tract infection that does the same thing.

This happens easily with antibiotic treatment. The overt symptoms get better, but something is not quite right afterward. There’s some residual congestion, or you just feel a little foggy-headed and “off”. With a bladder infection, there may be some lingering feelings of pressure, or cloudy urination.

Then the next infection comes more easily, and the not-quite-right afterwards gets a little worse every time. Continue reading

Pre-Allergy Season Acupuncture Discount

In the midst of all this snow and slush, it’s really hard to believe spring is coming! But, in just a few weeks, we’ll start to see crocuses and leaf buds — and, for many of us, allergy season will begin.  Not only does spring bring a liberal dusting of pollen, but the warmer, more humid weather also accelerates the growth of mold and dust mites.

If you’re looking for an alternative this year to the usual round of antihistamines, inhalers, and other drug therapies, Chinese medicine is a natural and powerful way to get allergy relief.

The best way to get good results is to begin treatment before allergy season starts, instead of waiting until your system is already under attack and irritated by pollen or mold. Continue reading

Conquering Your Sugar Cravings

My sister sent me a rum cake. She makes them every year; the recipe, I believe, involves super-moist cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, and a lot of butter and rum poured over the top. It’s loaded with everything a self-respecting acupuncturist would avoid putting in her body. It’s obscenely delicious. And, in the name of holiday stress, celebration, and family tradition, I pretty much ate the whole thing.

The holidays are like that. And that’s fine. The entire purpose of holidays is to get us out of our daily rut, shake things up a little, and give us permission to enjoy pleasures that we don’t indulge in every day. Continue reading