“Chinese medicine recognizes that the human body functions like a hologram because every microsystem found in different parts of the body contains the information needed to treat the whole body. In fact, studies… suggest that this information is stored in each and every part of the body.” – Steve Phillips, LAc
Holographic Mapping in Auricular Acupuncture
Seeing and treating the body as a hologram is one of my favorite things about acupuncture. There are a number of well-known microsystems that allow acupuncturists to treat the whole of the body through holographic mapping at the face, ear, hands, etc. Of these, auricular acupuncture happens to be one of my favorite systems to use. Auricular acupuncture is the treating of the body through the holographic mapping on the ear. I love this system because there are so many maps for the body on the ear, with different ones not only coming from individual specialists within China, but also from France and Germany!
Acupuncture Holographic Mapping of the Hip
To see what I mean by “holographing mapping,” check out this excellent video put together by Dean Mouscher, LAc. Here he shows how the hip maps to the face and the ear. I absolutely love the beauty of these body mirrors:
[wproto_divider style=”gap”]What if you don’t like needles?
The best part to me about auricular acupuncture is you don’t need to use needles to stimulate these points. You can also use “ear seeds” (actual vaccaria seeds) or metal pellets held in place by a very small adhesive. The seed or pellet itself is about 2mm, and the adhesive not unlike a clear or colored bandaid (~4mm).
In the case of the seed, a person simply massages the point by pressing and rolling the seed against the acupoint. This gentle stimulation is enhanced when you move the affected body part at the same time. For the metals, the property of the metal itself is enough to stimulate the acupoint according to treatment principle. We often use gold for tonification, and silver for sedation. I’ve found just knowing which part of the ear matches what part of the body can be enough to help relieve a temporarily stiff neck or sore back. All it takes is a little ear massage with your own fingers!
Want to learn more? Come on in — I’d love to show you how using holographic mapping can help you!
What an honor for me to be interviewed by sports and health writer, Elaine K. Howley for the US News and World Report! It was a pleasure to be able to share some of Chinese medicine’s strengths in treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in, “Can Acupuncture Help with COPD?” (published online 8/4/17).
People are starting to realize they have more options
I came into Chinese medicine because I had run out of options with Western medicine. 20 years later, I am practicing and teaching complementary and alternative medicine because I feel passionately about helping others see what I’ve found: Hope, choice, and perseverance.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”32″]I don’t believe in only one answer. I’m interested in what’s most helpful for you, right now.[/perfectpullquote]
My goal has never been to convince everyone that Chinese medicine is the answer to their issue. I don’t believe in one answer. I believe in the most helpful thing for a particular person at that particular time. Sometimes that will be Western medicine, and sometimes it may be Chinese medicine, a walk in the woods or dancing. I make a concerted effort to keep learning myself and to keep an ongoing dialogue with practitioners of different healing modalities, so as to constantly expand my view of what’s possible.
The more I know what’s possible, the more I can speak to it. The more I can speak to it, the greater chances someone who needs it will find it. What a gift to let my voice reach an even greater audience with this invitation. Thank you, Elaine!
reducing inflammation in general by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
improving both airway mucociliary clearance and the airway surface liquid (Tai 2006).
regulating cytokine production (Jeong 2002, Joos 2000).
How can acupuncture help you?
While normally one might say, “The only way to know is to try!” I might argue, try and try again! There are so many different types of acupuncture — TCM, Korean, Japanese, Classical, 5-Element, etc. They each have their unique approach to differential diagnosis and treatment. So, if you’ve tried, but it wasn’t a good match – I encourage you to consider another. And if you haven’t tried any, I encourage you to start by connecting with a practitioner who leaves you feeling encouraged and inspired.
May you have much success!
Carneiro ER et al. Effect of electroacupuncture on bronchial asthma induced by ovalbumin in rats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine2005; 11(1): 127-34.
Jeong HJ et al. Regulatory effect of cytokine production in asthma patients by SOOJI CHIM (Koryo Hand Acupuncture Therapy). Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 2002; 24(2): 265-4.
Joos S et al. Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Compliment Med 2000; 6(6): 519-25.
Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther 2007; 6(3): 251-7.
Tai S et al. Effect of needle puncture and electro-acupuncture on mucociliary clearance in anesthetized quails. BMC Complement Altern Med 2006; 6: 4.
Zijlstra FJ et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm 2003; 12(2):59-69.
What the Studies Show for Treating Menstrual Cramps
A 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Moxibustion for Primary Dysmenorrhea at Different Interventional Times”) concluded “moxibustion leads to higher total effective rate [in treating menstrual cramps] and lower level of PGF2α in serum” as compared to nonmoxibustion treatment. While there was no difference in intervention time, the researchers suggest treating the condition 5 ± 2 days before menstruation can achieve good efficacy.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”32″]Acupuncture and herbs outperformed painkillers like Aleve and Ibuprofen[/perfectpullquote]
A narrow definition declares moxibustion “the medical application of burning mugwort [an herb] floss on or over an acu-moxa point or an affected site.” (Wilcox, 1)
How does moxa relieve menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps, in Chinese medicine, can be attributed to a number of differing patterns:
qi and blood deficiency
liver and kidney deficiency
accumulation of cold
Depending on the underlying pattern of disease, treatment can differ. But one of the most consistently used treatment modalities is moxibustion.
Moxibustion, or moxa, is a great choice for treatment as it has the ability to warm interior cold, stop pain, and both nourish and move qi and blood. Not only does it cover so many bases medicinally, but it’s also something that can be done at home.
How can I use moxa to treat my menstrual cramps?
3-7 days before your period, visit your acupuncturist for my favorite kind of moxa treatment: “warm needle.” This technique applies moxibustion to the handle of an acupuncture needle that is inserted into the body. The heat of the moxibustion is comfortably and slowly delivered through the needle, deep into the channels and body. It’s very comfortable and soothing for the patient. In my office I use higher grade Japanese smokeless moxa for this technique.
When I send patients home, I often recommend they use what are called “stick-on cones” of moxa. This is a type of moxibustion that can also be treated to render it smokeless. It’s typically then adjoined to paper or cardboard that has a sticker-like base. You simply peel off one of the ‘cones’ from the sheet, and adhere it to your skin. Your acupuncturist should show you where to use this on your body. This is great for self-treatment between acupuncture visits.
What herbs are in Dang Gui Shao Yan San?
The meta-analysis looked at four different versions of this formula. They all shared a common base:
Dang gui, 10-40g
Bai Shao, 10-20g
Fu Ling, 10-25g
Cang Zhu, 10-25g
Ze Xie, 10-25g
Chuan Xiong, 10-30g
Other herbs added depending on the formulation include Wu Yao, Xiang Fu, Yan Hu Suo, Gan Cao, Gui Zhi, Dang Shen and/or Yi Mu Cao among others.
Will my health insurance cover it?
In WA state, acupuncture is considered an essential health benefit. Moxibustion is often covered under the same or different billing code. Before you receive treatment, you’ll want to check with your particular plan to find out if they reimburse treatment for menstrual cramps (“Unspecified Dysmenorrhea, ICD10 Diagnosis Code N94.6”). Not all plans in WA state do; but there are a number of them that will. Need help finding out? Drop me a line with your info!
You may have seen that Kaiser has taken over Group Health here in Washington. In their June 5, 2017 “Kaiser Permanente Washington Pre-Authorization Requirements” document, they outline the conditions for which they have determined acupuncture treatment medically necessary. Any non-Medicare patient with Kaiser insurance coverage seeking over eight visits will have to meet the following criteria:
Pain flares “when acupuncture has provided clinical improvement in the past.”
The condition has to result in functional limitation, i.e. you’re not able to do what you used to be able to do in your daily living, present daily, and persist beyond the typical time frame for untreated recovery. You’ll also need to document your baseline “measurable functional limitations” and show progress over treatment.
Is this list conclusive?
Of course not. 🙂 It’s subject to change, and is only a guideline. Each plan is different as well in the specifics of coverage and number of visits allowed.
Are you new to Kaiser insurance and would like Melissa to verify your acupuncture benefits prior to treatment? Feel free to reach out; she’d be happy to help you.
Thankfully, Chinese medicine has quite a bit to say about treating nausea. (Did you know it’s so effective, most insurances reimburse for acupuncture treatment of morning sickness and nausea from chemotherapy?) Some of my favorite points to use with moms during pregnancy include:
Ren-22 (天突, Celestial Chimney)
This point is located at the very base of the throat, just above the sternum.
Pericardium-6 (內關, Inner Gate)
Use your one hand to locate this point on the opposite arm. You’ll find the point between two major tendons roughly 2 inches up from the wrist crease on the inside of the forearm. The exact distance equals the width of your index, middle and rings fingers when measured across the knuckles furthest from the body.
Kidney-6 (照海, Shining Sea)
You’ll find this point in a depression just under the high point of the ankle bone on the inside of the foot.
How to Do Acupressure
It’s best to see your acupuncturist first to ensure you’re stimulating the correct point. Once you’ve got it, you’ll want to stimulate both sides. Massage gently at the point for a few minutes, using your intention to imagine you and your baby coming into harmony and alignment. Imagine all stress being released with the out breath and support coming in on the in breath. You can even couple with an affirmations like, “I love knowing my baby and I are safe.” “Every day it becomes easier to trust the process of life.” “Everything in my life takes place in perfect timing.”
Foods to Reduce Morning Sickness
Beyond self-acupressure, foods are, of course, the most effective home remedy for morning sickness. I encourage you to read the article from Karen Hurd as to why pulses (aka beans) are your best friend right now. In Chinese medicine, we have largely two patterns that fit the symptom of morning sickness. One is Spleen-Stomach deficiency (see: “Deficiency” column in table); and the other of Liver heat or stagnancy overacting on the Stomach (see: “Excess” column in table). Your acupuncturist/herbalist should be able to tell you which category better suits your needs if it’s not readily apparent to you looking at the below presentations.
Symptoms of deficiency include vomiting of watery fluids (may have undigested food, no particular smell or taste), poor appetite, and fatigue.
Liver Excess Overacting on Stomach
Symptoms of Liver excess include vomiting with bitter or sour taste, sour belching, strong thirst, a feeling of restriction through the side ribs, headaches (largely one-sided), dizziness and irritability.
Perhaps you’ve heard of plantar fasciitis? Well, doctors have found that it’s not always inflammation (i.e. “-itis”) that causes this heel pain. Overuse and degeneration can lead to poor circulation and tissue death of the plantar fascia. For this reason, the condition is now mostly referred to as “plantar fasciosis.” Here’s what natural sports podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan has to say on the subject:
Physical Medicine for Plantar Fasciosis
Proper Foot Positioning
Correct Toes (see: adjacent image) are the product mentioned in Dr. McClanahan’s video. I purchased a pair quite a while ago to try for correct toe positioning (not for plantar fasciosis) and I love wearing mine; however I do have to say I have a hard time finding shoes wide enough to accommodate them in the toe box. They’re made of silicone and are overall quite comfortable. They are, however, silly expensive. I’ve seen some similar products on Amazon. If anyone tries another brand and likes them, let us know in the comments please!
As Dr. McClanahan also mentions, metatarsal pads might be helpful in increasing circulation to the area. I’ve had these (see: adjacent image) in my shoes for the last two years and haven’t had to replace mine yet. I stuck them right onto a pair of Superfeet insoles, that way I can switch them out into any shoe I use (rain shoes, walking shoes, etc) without having to purchase multiple pairs. It’s important to remember that if you wear slippers, you’ll want keep these in there too. (No cheating!)
So how do you care for this pattern? Start with caring for the anger. I find Reiki quite helpful in creating a safe space to be with and listen to this important emotion’s message. What do you need that you haven’t been honoring?
“I am taking responsibility for my life. I can cope with any situation.”
“My internal mother is always here for me, protecting, nourishing, and soothing me.”
“I deserve the best that life has to offer. My needs are always met.”
For any affirmation practice, it’s best to repeat the statement as often as possible, ideally no less than 324 times a day. This practice is enhanced by using a mirror while reciting, connecting with your inner child as you speak your new and improved truth.
It can be helpful to remember you don’t just have to be the ‘shock absorber;’ you can be the lightning rod, grounding what’s coming at and through you into the Earth. Fellow Reiki practitioner Katalin Koda has some great techniques described in her article, “The Grounding Cord Exercise and 8 Other Ways to Ground and Center.”
If you’re in the Seattle area, come on in for a full assessment with Melissa. She’ll look at your complete picture and recommend the best appropriate treatment. Melissa also conducts distance Reiki for anyone seeking energy-work support outside the Seattle area. For those unable to afford one-on-one treatments, community acupuncture clinics offer an affordable treatment option in a group setting (often $15-40/treatment). To find a clinic near you, search by state on POCA’s site.
“A recent landmark report commissioned by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), found acupuncture to be at or near the top of every category measuring the effectiveness of a wide range of treatments for low back pain. Especially encouraging was the finding that acupuncture was more effective than or at least as effective as the higher risk medications commonly used to treat low back pain including NSAIDs, muscle relaxers and analgesics.” (Source: Acupuncture Now Foundation)
25 nonpharmacological interventions, including acupuncture, were reviewed for the treatment chronic low back pain (see: chart)
These interventions were reviewed against sham, no treatment, or usual care
Of these, only three (3) interventions provided moderate relief in both magnitude of effect for pain reduction and functional improvement:
yoga vs. usual care
progressive relaxation vs. wait list control
acupuncture vs. no acupuncture
Acupuncture was the only intervention among these three to also rate “moderate” in strength of evidence (no SOE was rated above moderate) in both areas, landing it the highest rating in all four possible categories.
“Our finding that acetaminophen is not effective for acute low back pain is based on a recent, well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT)43 and differs from our prior review, which concluded that there was good evidence of moderate effects. However, the prior conclusion was based on indirect evidence of acetaminophen for other pain conditions and effects of acetaminophen versus NSAIDs, which showed few differences. Another systematic review, noting the absence of placebo-controlled trials at the time and imprecision and methodological shortcomings in the available studies, rated the same evidence as insufficient.607 Like our review, a recent systematic review found that acetaminophen was ineffective for low back pain, primarily based on the results of the new trial.608
Want to learn more about how Chinese medicine can help?
Chinese medicine has so many great options for treating pain. Some of my favorite modalities include cupping and electroacupuncture. When it comes to getting lasting back pain relief, I’ve found these work best when combined with Chinese herbal medicine.
Ever since I heard it, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that acupuncture or acupressure could treat jet lag. It’s not something they taught us in school while I was there; but as I’ve talked to other colleagues over the years, I’ve heard a number of folks say, “Yes, unequivocally, this protocol can treat jet lag successfully!”. So, I was excited to see an article recently posted by local Chinese master herbalist (and acupuncturist), Cindy Micleu, on the subject: Using Acupuncture to Eliminate Jet Lag.
What’s the theory?
In Chinese medicine, we believe the energy of the body circulates through each of the organs and their respective channels throughout the day; and the energy peaks for each organ during a two-hour window. When we travel through time zones the body’s energy has to catch up or slow down accordingly to match the adjusted time schedule. Hence, we tend to feel awful until we do! With acupuncture or acupressure, we can stimulate certain points (known as horary points) in the body to direct energy where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. Doing so encourages the body to reset its internal clock. How cool is that?
Matching the time on your watch to the time at your destination, you’ll stimulate the matching horary point (see map above) on both sides of the body with either acupuncture needles or acupressure. If needles, insert, stimulate and retain for 5-7 minutes. If acupressure, apply 5 short bursts of pressure using something like a capped ballpoint pen, repeated 5-6 times on each side (total of 25-30 bursts on each point per 2-hour period).
In following up on 572 out of 1653 infertility cases that were reported at St. Francis Natural Health Care (2006-2014), 173 infertility cases were chosen for review from the 370 success cases.
Of these cases researched, all patients shared the same Chinese medicine differential diagnosis: Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency.
Western medicine diagnosis for these same cases ranged from PCOS, to immune-related, endometriosis, uterus fibroids, premature ovarian failure, fallopian tube problem and “unexplained.”
Of the 173 participants treating infertility, 98 received a combination of acupuncture (30 min sessions), moxa and Chinese herbal medicine treatment; while 75 participants opted out of herbs, going only with acupuncture and moxa.
Average course of treatment was 6.5 months, with no herbs taken during menstruation.
Acupuncture points used
The main points used calm the Spirit, nourish qi and blood, gently move the blood, and warm the Spleen-Stomach:
DU24, DU20, UB4 (bilateral), LIV3 (bilateral), ST36 (bilateral with moxa)
Follicular Phase Additions
During this phase, more yin tonics and local points are included in the prescription:
SP8, R12, ST25 (bilateral), R4, EP Zi Gong Xue (bilateral), SP6 (bilateral), Master Tong Points Huan Chao and Fu Ke (alternate, L/R)
Luteal Phase Additions
Points added during this phase strengthen the Heart-Kidney-Tian Gui-Chong-Ren axis:
Patients were prescribed Yu Lin Zhu to warm the Spleen-Stomach and tonify the Heart-Kidney. They took one pack per day with warm water, divided into two doses. The following adjustments were made based on affecting factors:
Follicular phase additions
Increased dosage of yin tonics.
Luteal Phase Reductions
Removal of blood movers Chuan Xiong and Dang Gui.
In the case of Liver qi stagnation, Xiao Yao San was added at 4-6g.
In the case of blood stagnation, Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang was added during the ovulatory period at 4-6g.
In the case of Kidney deficiency with weak Ming Men fire, You Gui Wan was added at 4-8g.
How could all these women with diagnoses ranging from PCOS to endometriosis receive the same Chinese medicine diagnosis? It’s amazing, Chinese medicine! Our diagnostic system is notably different from Western medicine, we’re able to feel and see the different organs’ health through the pulse and tongue, as well as assess heat and cold in the body based on these same factors combined with other symptoms and signs. Want to experience it for yourself? Come on in for an appointment!
Growing up I heard repeatedly the importance of taking a low-dose daily aspirin (i.e. baby aspirin) to prevent heart attack. If you grew up with the same story, the FDA’s 2014 change of position might come as a surprise, if you haven’t already heard it. In their Consumer Update, they wrote:
“…, [A]fter carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called ‘primary prevention.’ In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present.”
Special concern applies to anyone already taking other blood thinners, such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixiban (Eliquis).