Three Kinds of Tired: Which One Are You?

I have a client who moved here recently from a much warmer climate. About a month ago she came in saying, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m tired all the time. I’m sleeping 9 or 10 hours a night, and I still don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t feel like doing much during the day. I’m not usually this unmotivated.

I thought for a minute and then realized, oh, she’s never done November in the Northern Hemisphere before! I told her, actually, this is normal. And sometime around May you’ll be feeling downright manic to make up for it.

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Acupuncture for TMJ and Jaw Pain

Years ago, my dentist asked if I grind my teeth. I told her I didn’t think so, and she begged to differ. Whether I was doing it currently or not, she said, at some point I had clenched my jaw enough to wear my teeth down unevenly. I suspect this was during my teenage years (what?? stressed as a teenager? unheard of!), but most of us do this at some point — hold enough tension in our jaws to actually create pain or structural changes.

The results of tooth grinding (bruxism is the official term — what a great word!) range from jaw tension and pain on waking, to headaches and neck pain, to severe pain and problems with the functioning of the jaw. Continue reading

Acupuncture, Chronic Pain, and Re-Training the Nervous System

Pain researcher Lorimer Moseley tells this story: he was hiking in the Australian Outback with friends, and felt something scratch his left ankle. It was painful enough to make him pull his leg away a little bit, but he just kept walking, figuring he’d scraped his ankle on a stick, and forgot about it – until he woke up two days later in the hospital. Doctors told him he’d been bitten by an eastern brown snake, and was lucky to be alive.

Dr. Moseley tells this story to illustrate how contextual our experience of pain is – even with a pretty severe injury, if the brain has reason to think it’s no big deal (ankles get scratched all the time, and it’s not dangerous), we probably won’t feel the sensation very strongly. Continue reading

Acupuncture and Herbs for Acid Reflux

A few years ago, at a wedding, I was served the most delicious lasagne. I love lasagne, and it was a nice change from the usual chicken-breast-and-rice routine that usually comes at these events.

When I mentioned it to the bride, she said “Yeah, lasagne’s my favorite. I almost never have it — I avoid tomato sauce — and I know I’m going to be up all night with heartburn, but I figure it’s worth it.” And then she was off again, greeting other guests. Clearly, she was used to making this kind of rotten choice — miss out on your favorite celebration food, or have stomach pain on your wedding night. Continue reading

Free Workshop: Acupuncture for Stress and Stress-Related Conditions

Tuesday, April 17 in Cambridge, MA

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Come find out about acupuncture and how it can help relieve stress!  I’ve been doing a bunch of these workshops lately, and they’re really fun — it’s a chance to talk about acupuncture and how it works, get your questions answered, learn some helpful self-care strategies, and talk to others in the group who are struggling with similar things.

It’s casual, friendly, and nearby in Cambridge.  Drop by if you can!

Date:

Tuesday, April 17

Time:

6:00 – 8:00 PM

Location:

Harvest Co-op Community Room
581 Massachusetts Ave.
Central Square, Cambridge
Steps from the Central Sq. Continue reading

The Five Senses: Touch and Acupuncture

The following writeup appeared in Fall 2011 edition of the Voice — the alumni magazine of my alma mater, Carleton College — as part of an article exploring the five senses:

Touch

Sometimes, fingertips are more useful medical tools than X-ray or MRI machines.

When Marilyn Yohe ’88 ushers somebody into her treatment room, one of her first tasks is to place three fingers on her patient’s wrist to feel for a pulse. Yohe, a licensed acupuncturist at Cambridge Health Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will note the rate of the beat, just like a doctor or nurse, but she is also feeling for more than two dozen additional pulse qualities. Continue reading

Dealing With Setbacks in Healing

I remember this well: I was in my mid-30’s, nursing a neck injury that ultimately took years to heal. That summer I was staying with friends while I found a new apartment, enjoying their swimming pool, their cooking, and the company of their children.  I was having a pretty good week, neck-wise, which was a huge relief — and then their 4-year-old dove across the room into my lap, clocking me squarely in the jaw with the top of his head.  And just like that, I was back to square one.

It’s one of the toughest things about healing: those times when you think you’re getting better, and then suddenly you backslide into a place you hoped and prayed you would never experience again. Continue reading