How Does Acupuncture Work? Perhaps by Sending Signals Through Connective Tissue

Usually when people ask me this question — how exactly does acupuncture work, in biological terms? — I just give the honest answer.  We really don’t know.

Acupuncture points and channels do not seem to follow any of the physical body structures we’re familiar with — the nervous system, the circulatory system, or the lymph system.  In fact, points are generally located away from these structures.  After all, sticking a needle directly into a nerve or a blood vessel would not have happy results.

Studies have documented a number of changes in body chemistry and brain function with acupuncture treatment (see sidebar), but scientists are generally at a loss to explain the mechanisms involved. Continue reading

Free Workshop: Acupuncture and Self-Care for Headache and Migraine — Boston

On Monday, October 17, I will be offering a free one-hour workshop on dealing with migraines and other headaches using Chinese Medicine. The workshop is part of an ongoing series sponsored by Pathways to Wellness.

The workshop will cover:

  • The Chinese medical view of headaches and their causes

  • Acupressure points you can use yourself to treat headache and migraine

  • How you can prevent headaches with self-care techniques specific to your type of headache

  • When to use acupuncture for headaches, and what to expect from treatment

The time:

Monday, October 17
6:30-7:30 PM

The location:

Pathways to Wellness
1601 Washington St. 2nd floor
Boston, MA (South End)

Find directions at the link below, or call Pathways at 617-859-3036 x0.   Continue reading

Late Summer: Harvest, Abundance, and Nurturing

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of September! If you aren’t quite ready for it to be fall, have no fear: there’s a fifth season in Chinese medicine, late summer, that gives us a little buffer zone.

“Late summer” roughly corresponds to harvest season: it’s the time of year when things are cooling off at night, but it’s warm during the day, the leaves are mostly still green, and the crop fields are producing like mad.

I’ll have to admit, when I learned that Chinese medicine has five seasons, and that one of them was “late summer,” it seemed like a bit of a stretch – contrived, perhaps, to match the five elements and five organ systems used in Chinese medical theory. Continue reading

Fertility, Stress, and Acupuncture

It’s a commonly accepted idea that it’s harder to get pregnant when you’re under stress. It does make sense — stress is not known for improving any area of our health.

And, since struggling with fertility is itself stressful — between the waiting, wondering what’s wrong, and dealing with medical appointments and procedures — this can really put people in a bind.

One day, not for the first time, I was listening to a patient talk about how she was trying to manage her stress, but she thought she wasn’t doing a very good job, and she knew this is probably why she wasn’t getting pregnant. Continue reading

Acupuncture For Specific Fertility Issues

Acupuncture and herbs can be enormously helpful in a wide range of fertility challenges — from healthy individuals who want to increase their chances of getting pregnant to women facing a number of more serious diagnoses. I’ve listed a few of the most common conditions I treat: please consult with your acupuncturist about your particular situation.

Unexplained Infertility: This is one of the most common things I see, and one of the most frustrating for the people going through it. The woman’s cycle appears normal, and all the (endless, grueling) testing comes out fine.

In these cases, there are usually imbalances that are relatively minor, but detectable by Chinese medical diagnosis. Continue reading

Smoothing the Winter ~ Spring Transition

Happy Spring, and Happy Daylight Savings Time! Turning the clocks ahead is one of the best events of the year, in my book — I just love the longer, lighter evenings and the promise that spring really is coming.

In that erratic, New England way, but it’s coming. As I write this, it’s April 1, the front yards in my neighborhood are practically carpeted with crocuses, and it’s snowing. Need I say more?

I’ve been feeling a bit erratic myself — both more energetic and a bit more impatient. Which makes sense, actually. From a Chinese medicine point of view, our bodies are little microcosms of the world around us. Continue reading

Get Ahead of Your Allergies

Anyone who has seasonal allergies knows: if spring is coming, so is pollen season.

If you’re looking for an alternative this year to the usual round of antihistamines, inhalers, and other drug therapies, Chinese medicine is a very effective way to get allergy relief. And right now — before allergy season really kicks in — is the best time to get started.

Chinese medicine, like Western medicine, sees allergies as an imbalance in the immune system. Western medicine describes this as an over-reaction to a minor irritant. Chinese medicine sees it as a weakness of the Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”) — the protective layer at the surface of the body that keeps out foreign substances. Continue reading