Being Present

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Being Present

trying to get ahead of it all

My office building is currently under construction. When I look at the building or hear the work being done outside, I feel a great need to solve a problem. I get a frenetic energy to manage the situation before it happens…before it gets loud, before it impacts patients, before I can’t control it. My mind spins and I become incapable of seeing the situation clearly or knowing what to do with any clarity. This is an example of a common situation that I find myself in. I like to jump into the future to make sure “it all goes smoothly.” This is also something that I hear from my patients. Often this mindset causes significant fear, anxiety and stress…especially, when you don’t have enough information or it isn’t time to take action.

stop and be present

It is in these moments that I realize how important it is to be PRESENT. When you are present, you possess greater clarity and answers present themselves with greater ease. You also may find a solution that you would have never come across in all of your nervous energy to jump ahead. There are many ways to become more present, here are a couple of my favorites:

  1. Breathe. Just take a serious of deep breaths. Ask yourself questions like: Where am I? What is around me? What noises do I hear? What can I physically feel around me? What do I smell? Who is around? How am I feeling? What am I grateful for right now?
  2. Find a mindfulness practice. It can be meditation, yoga or anything else that allows you to be present. Some people find it through gardening, jogging or journaling. Try to do a little practice every day.
  3. Feel your feelings. I encourage you to sit with your feelings and simply observe them instead of trying to change them.

I encourage you to practice becoming present! It can have a profound impact on not only your mental and emotional health, but also your physical.

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trying facial rejuvenation

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trying facial rejuvenation

slow down the aging process in a natural way, without injections

I first tried facial rejuvenation acupuncture about four years ago in Portland, Oregon. Even as an acupuncturist, I was skeptical that a treatment could lift my cheeks, fade fine lines, increase brightness and reduce hormonal acne. I was going to turn 40 and felt the full weight of the number (in truth…more in my head than on my face). At the time, I was slightly obsessed with my cheekbones, as they seemed to sag a bit more year after year. If I could find a safe, cost-effective way to give them a lift, I was all-in. Especially, if it could help me happily embrace my age.

I went to my first facial rejuvenation acupuncture session. Afterwards, I was truly amazed by the results, which lasted for weeks. My checks were lifted and the fine lines around my eyes evaporated. I just glowed. Literally, glowed for over a week. Forty, please…. I felt more like 33. My expectations were met on the first treatment. This usually does not happen with patients, as it can take up to 5-6 treatments to see results. I was impressed and curious.

I began my study of facial rejuvenation acupuncture with local teachers in the Portland area. As I wanted to expand my knowledge, I decided to study with the originator of the technique out of New York, Virginia Doran, L.Ac. In November, I attended an amazing weekend training and became certified in facial rejuvenation techniques. I am extremely excited to share this process with other woman in Charleston, who may be looking for a more natural way to address the aging process.

how it works

Facial rejuvenation is designed to help the whole body look and feel younger. When we encounter a lot of stress or experience emotional times in our lives, it can often show on our face. The treatment is based on the principles of Chinese Medicine and involves the insertion of needles into not only the face, neck, head and ears; but also, the body. Acupuncture points are chosen and inserted in a specific order, to increase an individual’s overall health, which in turn helps the skin to glow and appear younger. The ideal series length is 10-12 treatments. And, the treatment series can hold five years or more, with a maintenance treatment every four months. 

facial rejuvenation is for anyone who...

  • wants to slow the aging process
  • Is interested in an alternative to injections
  • wants to reduce the impact of stress and emotion on their face.  
  • has acne or rosacea

what results can I expect?

  • Increased muscle tone, lifting sagging cheeks and jawlines
  • Elimination of puffiness
  • Reduction of fine lines, crow’s-feet, laugh lines, the “11” lines between the eyebrows
  • Sculpting of the face, bring definition to your features
  • Increased moisture, blood circulation and tighten the pores
  • Reduction of bags under the eyes
  • Lifted eyelids

If you are curious about facial rejuvenation acupuncture and want to learn more or setup an appointment, please contact us. I'd like to introduce you to the process and see how it can help you look younger and just glow!

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Tis the Season of Fall, even if we don't quite feel it

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Tis the Season of Fall, even if we don't quite feel it

Fall is the season of slowing down, contracting inward and beginning to store. It is the time to reserve our energy, to organize, set limits and heed boundaries. The endless energetic days of summer are over, we feel a call to refocus and shift inward. We also see this shift reflected in nature. Days are starting to shorten, leaves are turning, and crisp early mornings are becoming more frequent. As we adjust, so does nature.

Season of Dryness

It is also the season of dryness. In Chinese Medicine, the Fall is associated with the element of Metal. This element possesses the quality of healthy dryness, balancing the dampness of the Earth element. However, when the Metal element becomes out of balance, it has a tendency to move towards the extreme of its nature...you begin to feel dry. This can adversely affect each person individually, but some of the symptoms include dry cough, constipation, dandruff, dry skin and flare-ups of eczema, or a lack of moisture to your eyes, nose and mucous membranes.  

The Body's Organs

Metal is also the organs of the lung and large intestine. These organs rule our ability to release and eliminate in a healthy way. Fall is the time to purify the body by letting go of anything that does not serve us. These organs  also play a vital role in a strong immune system. In Chinese medicine, the lung circulates the "defensive qi" that protects the body from pathogenic invasions.     

How to Maintain Balance

It is important to stay in balance with the dryness of the Metal element and support the lungs and large intestine organs during this season. Some helpful tips for Fall:

  • Stay hydrated - it is important to combat the dryness by drinking plenty of water (no ice!). Enjoy a warm cup of water with lemon and honey every morning to start your day off right.
  • Put on a scarf - you can catch a cold or flu through the back of your neck, as in Chinese medicine it is said that wind or cold can invade your body. Sounds like an old wives tale! But, I find covering up your neck with a scarf can make a big difference in maintaining your health.
  • Get out in nature and breathe - open up those lungs and drink in the fresh air! Take a walk and relish in the change of the seasons. 
  • Eat warm foods - time to cook and incorporate seasonal vegetables as well as pungent food and spices like ginger, garlic, onions, horseradish, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and turmeric. Don't forget your bone broths!
  • Use essential oils - there are many options out there to boost your immunity throughout the Fall season. Pick your favorite single oil or blend (Frankincense, Tea Tree, Vitality, Thieves, On Guard, etc.) and use daily.  
  • Regular acupuncture treatments - Acupuncture is an important avenue to stay healthy through the change of the seasons. It can help our body transition with more ease! And, don't forget at the first sign of a cold or flu...please come in for acupuncture! 

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a path to gallbladder health

a path to gallbladder health

Gallbladder disease (cholecystitis) has personally affected my life. I experienced my first symptoms over ten years ago, which started with extreme heartburn and quickly progressed to severe pain in my right abdomen, then radiating to my right shoulder and arm. It was completely immobilizing and would last for hours. I discovered that oftentimes, it was typically triggered by foods high in fat.

What Causes Gallbladder Disease and Treatment Options

Gallbladder disease is an inflammation of the gallbladder, often where gallstones block the cystic duct, which impede the flow of bile, causing swelling, pain, and related symptoms. In terms of Western medicine, options for treatment are limited. One option is to have the gallbladder removed, which is invasive. That option was presented to me and it didn’t feel like the right one. I felt a strong urge to investigate the “why” and the “what went wrong" — my curious nature in action. I wanted to work to heal my body, if it was possible. Since my condition wasn’t life threatening, my doctor allowed me the space to investigate alternatives, while we watched my progress over time. On the advice of a friend, I turned to Chinese medicine.

Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the Gallbladder has many important functions and is paired with the Liver.  Functions of the Gallbladder include the ability to store and excrete bile and to make and follow through on decisions. It also affects the health of our sinews, resulting in smooth joint movement and good muscle action.

Treating Symptoms

In treating gallbladder disease and its related symptoms, acupuncture focuses on helping the liver qi to move freely with acupuncture and herbal formulas. We also seek to reduce the excess heat and damp (think sludge) clogging up the gallbladder. In addition to this treatment, it is recommended to improve diet, which includes the reduction of fried and spicy foods, alcohol, and often dairy. It is also vital to reduce stress through meditation, exercise, and activities for which you have a passion. Expressing emotions is also key to the free flow of liver qi and a healthy gallbladder; it is imperative to allow frustration, anger, and resentment to find a healthy outlet from your body.

How I Maintain my Gallbladder Health

Today, I maintain my gallbladder health through Chinese herbs and acupuncture, diet, and supplements, which help me to remain symptom free. Some days, however, it's still hard and I’m challenged to make healthier food choices. But, I am thankful for my journey because it led me to studying Chinese medicine and sharing its healing power with others.

If you are experiencing gallbladder symptoms and are considering an alternative to surgery, I encourage you to setup an appointment.  We can discuss if we can relieve your symptoms, heal your gallbladder and bring your body back into balance.

 

when first I saw the magic

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when first I saw the magic

Recently, there was an article in Carolina Tails on the use of acupuncture with pets. It featured Milo, my cat of fifteen years who recently passed away. It highlighted the magic of acupuncture and Chinese medicine with animals. Why do I say magic? Because when working with animals, they have no belief or expectation (placebo effect) around the treatment and its results. You just see the medicine in action, in its purest form. And, it is amazing and exciting. Having this positive experience with Milo wasn't my first.  

One of my earliest experiences with Chinese medicine involved another cat of mine. His name with Sid. He was a black and brown tabby, who was always pushing his limits and getting into loads of trouble.  When he was about 11 years old, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Because he was a fighter, I decided to allow Sid to undergo chemotherapy to increase his life span. The chemotherapy was supposed to extend his life approximately 6-8 months. And, if he remained comfortable during the process, we were going to go for it!

Personally, I had just started exploring Chinese medicine (both acupuncture and herbs) for myself. So, I thought…why not try it for Sid? I knew that is would likely be a nice complement to the chemotherapy and potentially help to aid his appetite, digestion, energy levels, and overall comfort with the entire chemotherapy process. So, we incorporated herbs and acupuncture into his regime. Sid’s oncologist supported the addition of Chinese medicine and we worked together for several months of treatment. Eventually, Sid entered remission. At the urging of his veterinarian, he stayed on his herbal and acupuncture regime for nearly two years. He recovered from the chemotherapy process and truly thrived. His entire health team acknowledged that Chinese medicine made a significant difference for him. What was only going to be six more months at the onset turned into two more happy years. 

This was my first lesson on the magic of Chinese medicine. I witnessed its effectiveness in my cat, who was none the wiser and had no expectations around treatment. Seeing the magic of acupuncture and herbs in animals truly inspired me in my studies and inspired me to become a practitioner. And, I acknowledge that the magic is actually thousands of years of study and observation on the body, its relationship to nature and the seasons, and its relationship to the stars. I want to share this ancient knowledge with people and my patients. I want them to take a chance on Chinese medicine and believe in its potential to help with so many ailments and conditions. I want them to see the magic!

Thank you Sid and Milo for this wisdom and for everything.

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why am I so exhausted?

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why am I so exhausted?

Ahhh…exhaustion. Somehow, this exhaustion just doesn't feel like normal “tiredness.” You're struggling through the day, constantly fighting a wall of tiredness with caffeine, sugar, and stress/adrenaline. There's an urge to rest or sleep even when you shouldn’t feel it, such as after a good night’s sleep or a relaxing day. It may actually be fatigue that you're experiencing.

The causes of fatigue can be from a variety of sources. Stress and overwork, chronic conditions, poor diet, severe illness, or childbirth to name a few. Often fatigue is a secondary symptom to some other problem. When I see a patient who complains of exhaustion, I often recognize that they have a depletion of “qi” (pronounced "chi") or energy. But, there can be multiple patterns and/or combination of patterns of fatigue for each person.

One of the most common patterns is qi deficiency of the Chinese spleen. Our body derives its fuel from air we breathe and the food we eat. In Chinese medicine, the spleen is responsible for raising the clear essence from our food and sending the turbid to the intestines. This process helps to produce energy, healthy digestion, and a clear mind. If this process is not working well, you may find that you have no energy along with many symptoms of poor digestion. Qi deficiency from the spleen is often a result of a poor diet.  It can further develop into dampness, which is essentially damp or phelgm in incorrect places (think excess weight, sinus congestion, etc.)

Qi Deficiency can also originate in the Chinese kidney. It is our ocean, our source. It stores the essential fluid (yin) and houses the original qi (yang) for our bodies. If you are suffering from yang depletion in the kidney, you feel like your “pilot light” is low or out; it feels like your body is in continual winter and you have a difficult time getting out of bed, warming up, and moving fluids appropriately in the body.  If you are suffering from qi and yin depletion in the kidney, your essential fluid is low. You feel exhausted and jittery at the same time. Nothing is getting properly nourished. You have restless, difficult sleep with dry skin and night sweats. Menopause, childbirth, trauma, long years of stressful work and life can all contribute to qi, yin, and yang deficiency of the kidneys.

Another common pattern is liver qi stagnation. With the stagnation or blockage, you often find weakness and deficiency. Your Chinese liver is responsible for the smooth flow of everything in your body. When it is not doing its job, your digestion and ability to manage stress and difficult emotion is affected.  This fatigue pattern is often intermittent. You could feel tired in the morning, fine in the afternoon, and exhausted at dinner time. It tends to be unpredictable and can often cause irritability and depression.

Struggling with fatigue is very real. I have experienced various levels of exhaustion throughout my life for many reasons. Most recently, I have battled adrenal fatigue (deficiency of the Chinese kidney) from years of a stressful job and graduate school (at an older age!).  When I turned to Chinese medicine to help, it made an important difference. If you are trying to keep your head above water, please contact me to learn more or setup an appointment to start treatment.

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Are you struggling with a skin condition?

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Are you struggling with a skin condition?

Having a skin condition is hard. I’ve been there! I developed cystic acne in my late 30s. Besides dealing with the actual condition, which can be painful, itchy, hot, and uncomfortable, it can be embarrassing. In today’s world, with external beauty being worshipped and revered (that is another post for another day), having a skin condition can leave the strongest of us feeling self-conscious, overwhelmed, and full of self-doubt. 

Until acupuncture, I did not find a single approach that eliminated the acne. It was a combination of internal and external approaches including: diet, supplements, topical care, and Chinese medicine. The addition of acupuncture and Chinese herbs noticeably sped up the healing process, essentially tipping the scales to my advantage. This is why it is important for me to share more about healing potential of Chinese medicine for skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, eczema and others. 

It is important to understand that Chinese medicine diagnoses includes an in-depth analysis of the patient, which includes the current presentation of signs and symptoms, as well as the overall constitutional picture. We look at the color, shape, size and background of the lesions. We ask many questions too: Is the skin dry, shiny, wet, greasy? Where are the lesions located and how does that correspond to the acupuncture channels? What is the patient’s age? How is their digestion? How is their stress?

After performing an intake, we then decide upon a pattern(s) that fits the skin condition and overall health of the patient. There can be multiple patterns and combination of patterns for the same issue – like eczema, so it is often unique to each patient. Which means, so is the treatment. This is the valuable, beautiful, and healing element that Chinese medicine brings to the table. 

Acne doesn’t have an age. You can suffer as a teenager, college student or in your late 30s or 40s. Acne usually occurs when skin cells block the follicles and bacteria begin to grow, leading to inflammation and pimples. In Chinese medicine, we often diagnosis acne as excess heat and dampness trapped in the body. What is the source? We investigate. It could be poor digestion, stress, environmental factors, etc. As your practitioner, I commonly treat the acupuncture meridians of the lung, stomach and liver. My job is to help move, alleviate, and reduce future heat and dampness with needles and herbs.   

Psoriasis is thought to be a chronic autoimmune disorder that can cause rash flare-ups on the skin in patchy scales, pustules, or red spots. The skin under the lesions in this disease has a cell turnover rate that is 7 times faster than normal skin cells! It can be debilitating for some. Not only can this make someone highly self-conscious, but the irritation on the skin can be beyond uncomfortable. With acupuncture and herbs, I often treat heat and wind that is trapped in the blood.  Blood is broader than how we think in Western medical terms. In Chinese medicine, blood is nutritive and a material form of qi in the body. It is a key component is how we diagnosis and treat Psoriasis with acupuncture and herbs.  

Eczema is another condition that can literally take over your life. It often presents as dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It is a common skin condition that is believed to be a Type 1 hypersensitivity response or allergic reaction to foods and/or elements within our environment. Other factors can trigger and make the condition worse, including hormones, infections, and even fabrics. In Chinese Medicine, eczema is treated form the inside out. It can be addressed with acupuncture and herbs both internally and externally and presents with many different patterns. More commonly, I find it is a combination of excess heat and dampness (one more than the other) with the addition of wind. The patient can also have significant digestive issues that need to be addressed not only through Chinese medicine, but also diet and nutrition.    

If you are suffering from a skin condition, I encourage you to give Chinese Medicine a try! I really believe it can make a difference. I would love an opportunity to visit with you about how acupuncture and herbs can help you.  Please contact me to learn more or setup an appointment to start treatment.    

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