Meridian 87 Blog

Acupuncture is great for pain relief

Research confirms what I’ve seen for years: Acupuncture is great for pain relief

I was lucky to attend the first annual Sports Acupuncture Alliance Conference in Philadelphia, PA,Acupuncture is great for pain relief  just a few weeks ago. One of my passions is helping my patients find pain relief – and while this conference focused partly on athletic performance enhancement, much of it dedicated to orthopedic conditions, pain and successful treatment with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and gua sha.

It was a great conference – and I spent time meeting other acupuncturists from around the country and learned about their practices and acupuncture in general. One gentleman, I met from Minneapolis works in a medical clinic associated with a hospital system. He worked as an acupuncturist treating a variety of conditions, often pain, that presented in their emergency care clinic. He also told me of a hospital system in Minneapolis where acupuncturists are on staff in the Emergency Department. I was so excited to hear this – that acupuncture in some places is starting to get attention from the medical establishment for pain relief!
Part of these changes, though, come from the fact that our country has an opioid epidemic and people are getting sick, and all too often dying, from these drugs. Aside from the addictive nature of the drugs, rather than treating the problem or the condition, they mask the primary symptom, pain. Minnesota is not alone – Oregon is also looking at pain relief from acupuncture – and other non-addicting modalities like chiropractic, naturopathic and massage – as detailed in this NPR story last October.
And there’s more – another recent article from the Annals of Internal Medicine from April of this year lists new clinical recommendations for patients presenting with acute, subacute and chronic back pain. And yes, acupuncture, as well as chiropractic, yoga, exercise, and mindfulness, are strongly recommended before a pharmacologic intervention. Some of my patients do get recommendations from their doctor’s for acupuncture, but sadly this is not always the case. So I’m glad there’s more and more research out there showing what I see so often – that other, non-pharmacological methods work very well for pain relief. And not only that, I want my patients to get back out into their lives doing the activities they have not been able to do because of their pain.
Other interesting research out this year is on the use of acupuncture for carpal tunnel, another condition that affects millions of Americans, like back pain. The study, published in the Journal Brain, found that acupuncture provided relief from pain and recommended that patients try acupuncture before a more invasive procedure like surgery.
One final recommendation – please find an acupuncturist to receive your acupuncture treatment. Dry needling, which is a practice many Physical Therapists offer, is the practice of acupuncture, without the training (unfortunately PTs who perform dry needling are trained in a weekend seminar, not the minimum three plus years it takes to learn Chinese medicine). I love physical therapy and find it very helpful to my patients as an adjunct to acupuncture. However, the under trained PTs performing dry needling often have adverse events – and actually, dry needling has been found by the State of Illinois to be outside their scope of practice.  Stick with PT for your rehabilitation exercises and please visit an acupuncturist for your acupuncture.

Healthier You – 3 Habits and Actions to Get There

Consistency, Patience, and Maintenance = A Healthier You3 Habits and Actions for a Healthier You

Yesterday I was admiring my hairstylist’s handiwork after my haircut on Monday afternoon. And at the end of the service, I scheduled my next haircut a few months out, as I usually visit her every 8 to 10 to 12 weeks, depending on her availability and my schedule.
Like a lot of people, I know when I need a haircut – the ends might be a bit damaged, or the cut has grown out to a point where it needs to be trimmed up, or know summer is coming, and I want to get ready for hotter weather preemptively. So I don’t hesitate to make regular appointments to cut my hair. I also have a regular date, weekly, for a semi-private Pilates session, which I know is good for my body and my back.


Have you had your health tuned up lately? Have you given your body a chance to relax, rest, reset, or release? Did you cancel your last acupuncture appointment because of a conflict and not remember to reschedule? Well here’s your friendly reminder. Your body will feel better, healthier, have less physical pain, and less physical and emotional damage from stress, if you give yourself regular acupuncture tune – ups.
I’m not a pushy practitioner and will recommend a when my patients should return for care, but ultimately it is up to you. And once your body is where you want it to be – less frequent colds, more energy, better sleep, less pain, improved digestion, let’s keep it that way. It doesn’t take that much on your part, just the willingness to continue care on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. It is easier to stay well than to get well – prevention is better than cure.


Sometimes people ask me if acupuncture is like chiropractic where “you have to keep going all the time?” I reframe that question, to help patients understand that unlike a pharmaceutical, acupuncture and Chinese medicine (and chiropractic for that matter) does not work in one session. In my opinion, that’s a good thing – because we are working at a deeper level which takes time. The results, though, are worth it. Because through a natural healing modality – like chiropractic or acupuncture – we are working to heal the body, not mask a symptom. That type of healing takes time – not that long, but it does require weekly treatment for a bit, usually four to six weeks, to get changes happening. And if you have had your health issue for a long time, weekly treatment may last longer. But your body will thank you, and you will feel better. I can’t say this strongly enough – I have seen acupuncture work for my patient’s and my health – but it does require patience in our “fix me immediately without me having to change anything” culture.
One comparison that makes sense to me is thinking about someone who wants to be in better athletic shape. To do this, one must exercise, either outdoors or at the gym, and probably modify one’s diet. You cannot get into better shape just by hoping, or taking a pill, or reading about it. You have actually to do something, which is exercise. It is the same with acupuncture treatment. You have to come for it to change your body, and you have to come frequently enough for long enough, based on your condition. But like getting in shape, the changes won’t happen if you don’t come in for treatment, take your herbs, or change your diet and lifestyle that are hindering your health. It may seem obvious or very elementary, but it bears saying.


Once you are feeling better, and experience relief, I want you to continue to enjoy this experience and not return to the issues you have had before. That’s when health maintenance becomes necessary. For some folks they come in every other week to keep their body happy, for others, it is every 4 to 5 weeks or even every few months. These are all great schedules. What’s important is that you continue to come and give your body the rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, it needs.

Sick of getting sick? Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help

“If you are getting sick, or you are sick, acupuncture and herbs can reduce your symptoms, shorten the length of the cold, or push it out of your system immediately, if caught quickly.”

I love treating people who are coming down with a cold. Getting a cold is a pretty common occurrence for us humans – many people have one or two colds a year, and otherwise feel pretty healthy. On a recent Saturday I saw multiple patients, four to be exact, who were either fighting a cold, felt like they had started getting sick that week, or were in the midst of a cold (and for some this was the second cold in the last 4-6 weeks).

sick woman in bed with coldWhy do I love to treat colds? Because acupuncture and Chinese herbs excel at this – I’ve said it many times but will say it again, that if you are getting sick, or you are sick, acupuncture and herbs can reduce your symptoms, shorten the length of the cold, or push it out of your system immediately, if caught quickly.

You might have your own home remedies – the Neti pot (great!), lots of vitamin C and warm liquids
(great!), sleep (great!) and soup (great!). You might also use over the counter medicines with mixed results. These can be helpful but also may have side effects you don’t like, or may not really work, but give you enough symptom relief that you can better make it through your life.

The cool thing about Chinese herbs is that they work really really well, quickly, and do not make you feel jittery, sleepy, or otherwise out of it. They restore your body to balance by treating the symptoms and, for some, boost the immune system. Not everyone will take the exact same formula if they are coming in with a cold – for some people the start is in the throat, with a scratchy or itchy throat and mild fever – for others they may have runny eyes, and runny nose, from the start with no throat symptoms. My job is to assess your pattern, give you an amazing acupuncture treatment to clear the symptoms and then send you home with herbs to resolve the rest of your condition.

And if you are someone who catches every cold – or gets many mild ones every year and then one really bad respiratory infection, you are my ideal patient. Chinese medicine, unlike western medicine, can work to build up your immune system so that you do not catch every cold and you don’t even get that horrible respiratory infection every winter. I’ve treated it many times successfully, and I used to be this patient.
And as always, these are general guidelines; everyone’s body, and cold is unique. Please contact me for a consultation for your specific needs.

It’s a New Year again – and a New You?

January 28th, 2017 marked Chinese New Year, and this year, 2017, is the year of the rooster. The date of the new year does not coincide with January 1 as the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning it is based on the location of the sun and correlated with the moon’s phases. In China the new year is celebrated by a festival, called the Spring Festival, and every year is assigned one of 12 animals — 2017 is the year of the Rooster.

Since this is the second time in the last month or so that we’ve celebrated the new year, I’ve had time to continue pondering what changes I want to work towards in 2017. Resolutions don’t work too well for me, I’ve realized. Instead I set intentions for myself, and this year, my two main intentions were to focus on moving my qi, through a daily meditation practice, and to maintain a gluten free diet. And as intentions, I may not be perfect in these two areas, but I am going to do my very very best to meet my intentions each day.

Why did I pick these two changes for myself in 2017? Upon reflection, I realized at the end of last year that meditating every day made me feel better, calmer, more optimistic. I had renewed my meditation practice right after the presidential election and by the end of the year it felt like a reasonable goal to continue this practice, daily, for the next year. I permit myself leeway with the amount of time I meditate – can be for 5 minutes, or for 20, based on the day, and my life. I can do a silent meditation or a guided one, and it can be in the morning or evening.

My second intention is to avoid gluten. I’ve been aware of the negative effects of gluten on my body (and all of ours, really), for quite a while. At the end of last year, I had an experience which solidified my resolve – after eating pretzels while under the weather, I subsequently experienced an increase in physical pain. It became clear to me that my body just could not tolerate gluten and in truth it no longer appealed to me when I remembered my discomfort.

So the Chinese new year has permitted me to re-reflect on my recent 2017 intentions and how well they are working for me. I’m glad to say that so far, I feel good about continuing the changes and have been able to follow my plan for the year. Traveling makes it difficult to be gluten free, but I’ve become quite adept at finding the gluten free options wherever I am. I’m also glad to say I’ve been able to meditate daily as well.

What are your health intentions for the next year? Have you been ignoring your body, or your health, and is it time to make some changes? Do you need to increase relaxation? Are you unable to exercise due to joint pain? Or do you suffer from chronic indigestion?
Are you ready start your wellness journey, contact me for a consultation for your specific needs.

Healing is a Process

I do some of my best thinking while cleaning house – I’m not sure why vacuuming and sweeping, Pain relief acupuncturespecifically, trigger my blog writing juices, but they do. My most recent cleaning brainstorm was the idea to write about something that I have come to know from years of treating patients, but realized might not be that obvious to others – that healing takes time, it is a process, and successful healing often includes specific actions by the patient and the practitioner.

First the idea that healing is a process. This makes logical sense to me, as typically health problems occur over time – with the exception of an acute injury – most issues don’t appear overnight (although you may live with them for a long time before they become troublesome enough for you to seek help). A dramatic example is a cancerous tumor. A person may not know they have cancer until the tumor is a specific size that causes pain or discomfort, or other symptoms, but most likely the tumor grew over days, weeks or months (maybe years) to the problematic size. Because the cancer took a while to grow, it also will take a while to treat, and the process usually includes chemotherapy, radiation and maybe surgery. Treatment length and success is based on a many factors which may include the type of cancer, location, stage and the general health of the patient, to name a few. So your tendinitis will get better with treatment, but you must come frequently enough to see the results you desire.
Sometime patients come to acupuncture and Chinese medicine as a last resort – we’re one of the last houses on the block, after someone has seen multiple doctors, or tried many other types of therapy, without the results they hoped for. I have seen acupuncture treatments work amazingly well – with reports of patients being completely pain free for 6 months to complete removal of menstrual issues – after one treatment. I’m always happy to hear of these results and encourage patients to share their success stories with me. However, this is the exception, not the rule. Again, for the best results, it is important to get treated often enough for a long enough time. This does not mean that improvement may not start immediately – often it does – but healing and change takes time.

Acupuncture treatments build upon one another. I treat patients with complicated health issues – they may have chronic pain, headaches, infections, allergies, digestive issues and emotional concerns. When they show up at the office, the chief complaint may be fatigue, or frustration with getting sick so frequently, or pain that has flared up again. My job is to un-layer the issues and help their body onto the path of healing. Many times patients notice multiple issues improving with continued care – this is because acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat the whole body – and treatment directed at reducing inflammation and improving immune function can have the bi-product of reducing pain, improving digestion, and reducing stress as well as improving immunity.

To maximize results, I recommend patients receive acupuncture treatment weekly for the first four to six weeks of care. For some complicated health issues continued weekly treatment is ideal. Patients see the most dramatic and long term results from coming regularly for treatment – because getting better takes time. In between treatments it is important to participate in your healing by following any treatment recommendations – from taking epsom salt baths, to removing/reducing inflammatory foods from your diet, getting more sleep or attempting a mediation practice. Perfection with these tasks is not required but participating in your own healing is powerful – and can make the results of the treatment much greater.

Welcome to fall – but don’t catch that cold!

Suffering from a Cold, Congestion or the Flu

I will admit I do write a similar blog post every fall – one that is focused on how many people are suffering cold season Meridian 87from colds, congestion or the flu when the season changes and school starts. I don’t know how universal this is but I have definitely experienced it living in Chicago and practicing acupuncture – many of my patients know it too, that when the season’s change, and specifically from summer to fall, they often catch a cold.
You may be experiencing this yourself. I have had patients in over the last few weeks complaining of a tickle in the throat, congestion, sneezing or a full on cold or stomach flu. If you suffer from hay fever or mold allergies, you know that fall is an especially itchy, sneezy and inflamed time for your body. I find that patients who are already suffering from allergies may more easily catch a cold because their immune system is stressed and thus has fewer resources to fight another immune system invader.

How can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help?

  • An acupuncture treatment at the start of a cold will help shorten the length and severity of the cold, often pushing the cold right out of the body that day.
  • If you are farther along in the cold process, getting an acupuncture treatment will open up the sinus or lung passages by reducing congestion and strengthen the immune system. Herbs are definitely recommended at this point to naturally reduce congestion, strengthen the immune system and clear inflammation. Treatment can help with coughing, difficulty breathing with wheezing, rattles or pressure on the chest as well.
  • If you have allergies, regular acupuncture treatment can reduce the severity of your reaction, especially if you are willing to take supplements or herbs and practice home care such as using the neti pot.
  • Patients who are committed to their health and come in regularly experience fewer colds and definitely less severe colds or respiratory infections. Acupuncture and herbs excel at health improvement and maintenance!
I say this a lot – but of course I’ll say it again – regular treatment is also very important for stress reduction. Reducing stress is vital to improved health – daily I have patients report to me that their symptoms are worse with stress – whether that is frequency of colds, digestive problems, pain or insomnia. Stress makes all of it worse. And you guessed it! Acupuncture is an excellent stress reducer!

New season, new space

“It’s a new season. A perfect opportunity to do something new, something bold, something beautiful.” 

Changes at Meridian 87 this fall include a beautiful new space.

We’ve moved from the Ravenswood meridian 87 new spaceProfessional Building on Wilson Ave to the Health Care Center at 3929 N. Ashland Ave.  The new space is just a mile and a half south of the Ravenswood Professional building, in the lovely Lakeview neighborhood, a few doors down from the intersection of Irving Park Road and Ashland Avenue. Although the physical location is new, please know that you will receive the same great health care here as you have at our last space.

The new space is the primary clinic of another Chicago acupuncturist, Dr. Lixin Sha. Dr. Sha was my teacher, many years ago at PCOM and graciously offered me the option to use her space. That being said, Ioana and I are seeing patients here all day Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, as well as Wednesday evenings. Right now we are not able to accommodate patients 7 days a week as we were before, although that should be possible again in the near future.
We have more exciting news in the works – it is our hope and plan that in another few months we will be moving again into a permanent clinic space. Negotiations are underway for this new space, located in North Center. It is a great location and once everything is confirmed and construction underway, we will give you more details. This new space will be the permanent home of Meridian 87 and also offer acupuncture and chinese medicine as well as massage, hopefully.
Until then we invite you to check out the current location at 3929 N. Ashland. It is a peaceful, spacious, beautiful office, conveniently located with free street parking just a block away (directly in front of the building there are pay boxes). At this new location we have slightly more room so we can also accommodate more last minute appointment requests, just in case you need an emergency pick me up!
We can’t wait to see you!

Healing Insomnia Naturally

Insomnia is an awful experience – most people have had it at least once in their lifetime –
but chronic Healing Insomnia Naturally - Meridian 87insomnia is really awful. Chronic insomnia, along with the stress it creates, is really bad for your health. Sleep is vitally important for your emotional, physical, and mental well being. The National Institute of Health has a great article on why sleep is really important to every aspect of a healthy body.

Insomnia is definitely something I treat in my clinic – either as the main complaint, or as a part of the situation, as with menopause and peri-menopause, where there are a constellation of symptoms causing difficulty. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and supplements are quite effective at treating insomnia, and there’s also usually homework for my patients with lifestyle and possibly dietary changes.

As I’ve said before, one of the beautiful aspects of Chinese medicine is that it isn’t a cookie cutter approach. Everyone who has insomnia, doesn’t have the exact same presentation – some people can’t fall asleep, some people can’t stay asleep and some people can’t do either. Some people have vivid, active dreams, or restless legs, or have night sweats which wake them or disrupt sleep. All of these factors are important in determining what can reverse that person’s insomnia.

Sometimes blood sugar is an issue – if you are someone who eats a diet high in carbohydrates and you eat dinner early, say at 5 or 6 pm, and then the next meal you have is the next day at 6:30 or 7, your body is going about 12 hours without food. If your blood sugar is not stable, because you have either historically or recently eaten more carbohydrates, you can wake in the middle of the night due to a drop in your blood sugar. Usually in this situation stress plays a part as well. High stress plus high carbs equals a body that is burned out and running often on fumes.

My job as your acupuncturist is to determine what type of insomnia you have – or types, if that’s the case. Not everyone is hot at night, but if you are, and waking up, my job is to help your body be cooler (which is often due to a hormonal imbalance, and balancing hormones is part of my treatment plan). If you have vivid dreams, my job is to design and execute a treatment plan that can calm your spirit, so at night you can fall asleep and not be woken by stressful or scary nightmares.

Supplements and herbs are very helpful for regulating sleep. A few of the ones I commonly recommend include melatonin, which is a hormone your body should be producing, in the pineal gland, to regulate your circadian rhythm. Not everyone has enough melatonin, and so supplementing with it can help some people. Again, this isn’t the right supplement for everyone, and the dose is important. Many people thing more is better, when in fact it is the correct dose that is key. Magnesium can also help people sleep – and I often recommend a supplement called Natural Calm to help people fall and stay asleep. However, if you are on prescription medications please check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding magnesium/Natural Calm, to your daily supplement routine.

Chinese herbal formulas are also part of my recommendation for treating insomnia as well – and again, it isn’t a one size fits all situation. When you come in for treatment, part of the process is determining your individual health needs and applying the correct herbal formula to address those needs.

The final reason I want to encourage insomniacs to seek acupuncture is that acupuncture, and herbs, can help address the stress that comes along with chronic insomnia. Ironically, not knowing if you are going to sleep creates stress for people every night when they really need to be winding down for bed. And effective acupuncture treatment can help the body start to understand that such a reaction is not necessary by calming the nervous system. I also give patients other instructions on what to do in the evening before bed, to help the body get ready for sleep.

These are general guidelines; everyone’s body is unique. Please contact me for a consultation for your specific needs.

Avoid dehydration this summer with Watermelon

Avoid dehydration this summer with Watermelon

When I was in school studying acupuncture at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine – Chicago I loved

watermelon for cooling and dehydrationlearning about Chinese Herbs. We learned approximately 300 individual herbs, which included plant pieces and parts (flower buds, stems, roots, or even the flowers themselves, spices and some foods). Many of these were already familiar to me because they were common foods and I had them in my kitchen like ginger, peppermint and watermelon.

As part of the acupuncture training I had to memorize the botanical name of the plant, be able to recognize it physically, describe its actions, the part of the body it influenced, and its taste and temperature. For example, some herbs are bitter and cold. These herbs work to clear heat, as you would imagine. What does clearing heat mean in the medical sense? It means, sometimes, killing bacteria, which the most cold and bitter herbs do quite well. The other aspect of cold and bitter herbs is that they are hard on the digestive system – not usually as hard as a pharmaceutical like an antibiotic, though. Chinese formulas are specifically designed combinations of  herbs chosen to mitigate the side effects of specific individual herbs and ensure a formula is as easy to absorb as possible.
One herb I was happy to learn about (of course) was watermelon. I knew watermelon was delicious but I didn’t know it had any specific medical benefits. It is actually a medicinal food – as is peppermint, bitter melon, and dandelion greens as well as many others. Watermelon, however, is especially important in the summer as eating it cools the body quickly and significantly and as such will help treat sunstroke or heatstroke.
How does it work? Well, watermelon, in Chinese medicine, is described as having the properties of being cold and sweet, and it promotes urination. This is the physiological mechanism for the body to cool off and clear the heat from the system. It is also said to be effective at moving the bowels and specifically affects the heart, bladder and stomach organs. So eating watermelon when it is damp and hot outside, and when your body is overheated, will help you safely and quickly cool your body temperature. If you have a weak digestive system, though, please do not overdo it with watermelon. Watermelon is cold in nature so those with weak digestive systems would be wise to moderate how much they consume.
The nutritional profile of watermelon is pretty impressive – it’s packed with antioxidants, including Lycopene. Lycopene is in the class of antioxidants called carotenoids – which benefit the body by reducing the risk of eye disease and cancers, as well as generally protecting the body against damage to cells, protecting against the effects of aging, and helping with some chronic diseases (read more here). Lycopene specifically reduces stroke risk and has anti-cancers properties, and is especially helpful for prostate cancer. Other vitamins and minerals found in watermelon include vitamin C, B1, B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and biotin (source: The World’s Healthiest Foods).
Here’s a simple watermelon refresher recipe to beat the summer heat:
4 – 6 cups chopped watermelon (you can use the whole thing if its a small one)

1/2 cup cool water

1/3rd cup lime juice
generous pinch of salt
3 small mint leaves, mashed slightly

1. Add all ingredients into a blender, food processor or vitamix. Blend until smooth, or to your desired consistency.

2. Once blended, you may add 1/2 cup sparkling water if you would like.
Enjoy immediately or refrigerate to have your own hydration drink available whenever you need.

Better than Opioids

Acupuncture, Cupping and Gua Sha are Wonderful Painkillers

Meridian 87 Cupping

A friend of mine, the amazing chef and culinary consultant Jill Houk, recently asked me why I don’t talk more about how acupuncture is a wonderful treatment alternative to addictive opiate painkillers, as it also has none of the deadly and addicting side effects (well honestly acupuncture treatment is somewhat addicting in that it naturally releases endorphins, but there’s no overdosing on acupuncture). But seriously, acupuncture is a great treatment method for pain management – from acute injury to chronic ailments – and I have written about that extensively with more posts to come. Today, though, I want to talk about two other therapies that I frequently use in my clinic to help a patient with pain – vacuum cupping (hereafter referred to as cupping) and gua sha.

Cupping and gua sha are quite similar – cupping is the process of suctioning skin into a cup, be it plastic, glass or silicone to relieve pain and inflammation. The suction can be created by a hand held pump or through the use of fire (also called fire cupping, but don’t worry, it doesn’t burn or hurt), and both types are effective to relieve pain. Cupping can happen anywhere on the body, but most often on the back, hips and upper back/shoulders. Cupping brings fresh blood to the area and stimulates the tissue to remove cellular waste and disperse accumulated inflammation. It also produces a red coloration on the skin that some people call a bruise. The color of the marks can be light pink, red, dark red or purple. In my clinic, I use cups on a patient while they are also having an acupuncture treatment, most often, although sometimes we use them after a treatment has completed. The results are really quite amazing with pain, headaches, tension and even immobility improving immediately. Dark colors coming up during the process will go away in a few days with plenty of water and this is actually a good indication — it shows me that the patient really needed this specific type of work to reduce inflammation and stagnation. Cupping therapy on the back and chest is also used to treat a cough and/or upper respiratory infections as the cups can help improve lung function.

Gua sha is similar to cupping, but the tool used often is a glass chinese soup spoon – although there are Meridian 87 Cuppingsome specific tools sold out there made of bone or plastic – the spoon is my personal favorite. With gua sha the skin is rubbed with a smooth edged object to release tension in the muscle, or inflammation in the joint or area. Gua sha is used most often in areas of the body that are curved, such as the neck, or a joint like the elbow or the knee, as a cup may not fit conveniently there.

One of the things I love about gua sha is that it can be done really anywhere and works sort of like a party trick for me (but please don’t try this at home, this is something to be done by a trained professional) to relieve pain. For example, a few years ago I went to a friend’s house to pick her up before a movie. When she answered the door I noticed she was walking strangely – and when I enquired she told me that the only way her back didn’t hurt was to walk around with her hand tucked into the top of her pants. Curious, I asked her more about this pain which was actually in her upper back/neck area. I did a little palpation (pressed on her skin to check and see if she would respond to gua sha ) and then offered to gua sha her neck/upper back to see if it would relieve the pain. I then searched through her kitchen and found an object suitable to do the treatment, some oil to use on her skin, and had her sit in a chair facing away from me. About 15 minutes later she was amazed. Her back didn’t hurt, she didn’t have to walk with her hand in a certain position to stabilize her back and relieve pain, and she did not have to take a pill or a medicine! She was so happy. Her neck was red for a few days but her pain was gone. Needless to say she was sold on chinese medicine and eager to learn more.

I had a similar experience in school, when I was an intern at PCOM’s student clinic. A patient came in with elbow pain – she was a martial artist and had hurt her arm/elbow in her regular practice. She came in for acupuncture treatment, which helped, but she loved the gua sha on her arm and elbow, which again, produced significant, rapid, pain relief.

In all seriousness, opiate addiction is no joke – and pain isn’t either. Acupuncture, cupping and gua sha are amazing, effective alternatives to these strong pharmaceuticals. Often Chinese herbs are recommended as well – they are safe, effective and not habit forming. Many people end up seeking alternative treatment as a last resort. You don’t have to wait until nothing else works – starting with acupuncture treatment can save you a lot of time and money. And it can get you back into your life, doing things you enjoy before you know it.

Photo Credits: Angela Garbot Photography

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