We're coming up on the halfway point of liver season and I promise I'll start talking about something else with the next blog post. But understanding the elements of Classical Chinese medicine is crucial to recognizing patterns of imbalance in yourself.

Finding your Flow: Balancing liver disharmonies with Classical Chinese Medicine

We’re coming up on the halfway point of liver season and I promise I’ll start talking about something else with the next blog post. But understanding the elements of Classical Chinese medicine is crucial to recognizing patterns of imbalance in yourself.

That’s why this year my focus is on teaching you the foundations, so that you can bring seasonal living together with learning what your body needs, and what season your body is in. Because while we are part of the world, we are not always in synch with it.

This blog post is about imbalances in the liver system and what it looks like when our qi isn’t flowing optimally.

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Spring seems like it's a long way off in Minnesota. Just last month we hit a record for snow fall in February. But cold and snow notwithstanding, the wood energy of spring is still flowing. Now that I've covered how to live in accordance to each season, I thought it would be a good time to move to talking about the elements in Chinese medicine. Just like the elements of the periodic table, the elements of Chinese medicine represent the basic components. You'll recognize a lot of the movement and terminology in this post from thespring living blog, but this one will take it to another level.

The Wood Element: Raising Yang

Spring seems like it’s a long way off in Minnesota. Just last month we hit a record for snow fall in February. But cold and snow notwithstanding, the wood energy of spring is still flowing.

Now that I’ve covered how to live in accordance to each season, I thought it would be a good time to move to talking about the elements in Chinese medicine.

Just like the elements of the periodic table, the elements of Chinese medicine represent the basic components. You’ll recognize a lot of the movement and terminology in this post from the spring living blog, but this one will take it to another level.

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Spring is the season to plant your seeds and to ride the rise of yang, building a year of health and wellness for yourself

Spring Living: Utilizing the Season of Generation

Happy spring!

Tomorrow is the Chinese new year, and we’re ringing in the year of the Earth Pig!

Think this will be a lucky year for you?

Those of you who have been hanging around for a while, you’ve heard the spiel about the seasons. If you want to skip the details, feel free to scroll down to the bottom.

But for the rest of you, read on.

Spring is the season to plant your seeds and to ride the rise of yang, building a year of health and wellness for yourself
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Menstruation is a source of shame, concern and pain for many women but it doesn't need to be that way

Taming the Red Dragon: Menstruation in Chinese Medicine

Last week I introduced the concept of death cycles on the Instagram feed. In a nutshell, a life cycle is a cycle an organism follows from birth to the point they reproduce and their offspring begin their own life cycle. A death cycle follows an organism through all the processes of birth, life, death and potential rebirth.

The handy thing about death cycles is that since the year is its own death cycle we can use it as a guide. Spring is birth, summer is growth, fall is decline and winter is death. The unique thing about winter is that it’s the season that contains all the things we, as a society, fear, are ashamed of, or hate.

Cold, darkness, old age, labor, and menstruation.

When you work with the seasons and death cycles, you learn that decline is a part of life and it’s usually a healthy part of the process. Trees wouldn’t flourish in the summer if they didn’t rest in the winter, the day doesn’t happen without the night and we wouldn’t continue our reproductive cycle without healthy menstruation.

Have you been told your entire life that your period is gross, something you shouldn’t talk about, something shameful or even, sinful?

What would happen if you saw it has a healthy sign of ovulation and embraced it as a time of rest? My bet is that it would be life changing and if you’re interested you should definitely read on.

Menstruation is a source of shame, concern and pain for many women but it doesn't need to be that way
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How does acupuncture work? The nervous system? Natural painkillers? Magic? Well, definitely not magic but it works on many levels. Click to read more!

How does acupuncture work?

One of the most common questions I get from new patients is “How does acupuncture work?”

It’s a simple question, but simple isn’t always easy. Acupuncture is a complicated medicine, with layers of historical and poetic metaphor to explain complex physiological responses. For so small of a question, the answer is huge.

But I live for questions like this. I used to be a linguistics major and linguistics isn’t the study of a wide variety of languages, it’s the study of how languages work. Linguists study how this group of words or vocabulary evolved differently than this group, even though they are talking about the same thing. I may not be a linguistics major anymore, but this philosophy has carried itself forward into my practice.

My hope for this blog post is to give you an understanding of this big idea – how acupuncture works – in the vocabulary you use every day. While I may have been trained to think in terms of qi, blood, yin and yang, acupuncture works through blood flow, hormone cascades, muscle release and more.

So, if you’re ready, let’s dive in.

How does acupuncture work? The nervous system? Natural painkillers? Magic? Well, definitely not magic but it works on many levels. Click to read more!

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Is your acupuncture provider using the appropriate acupuncture safety techniques? Check out this new blog post for the inside scoop on acupuncture safety.

Acupuncture safety: Knowing your practitioner

“I have a question for you. Do you sanitize your needles?”

Of the questions I get about acupuncture, this is not one of the most common.

“No, the process of repeatedly sterilizing needles is really expensive and makes needles more prone to breaking. Reusing needles is dangerous anyway. I use single-use, disposable needles in sterile blister packs because I follow Clean Needle Technique.”

This continued into a lively discussion about CDC recommendations, licensing regulations and all sorts of other safety bits about acupuncture that made me think I should write up a blog post.

The fact is that his question was a very important question that triggers other questions:

  • What is Clean Needle Technique (CNT)?
  • What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
  • Who is allowed to do acupuncture?
  • What kind of training do people get before they are allowed to needle?
  • What are some signs that your practitioner may be unsafe?

These are all very important questions that should be answered for every patient who wants to be in the know.

Is your acupuncture provider using the appropriate acupuncture safety techniques? Check out this new blog post for the inside scoop on acupuncture safety.

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What is qi? What are yin and yang? Check out this primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine and find out how to talk to your acupuncturist!

Acupuncture 101: How to talk to your acupuncturist

“What’s wrong with my liver?

My patient was confused and a little concerned.

“You have liver qi stagnation.” I said, “But don’t worry, there’s nothing physically wrong with your liver…” I went on to explain that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, the liver governs a category of symptoms that relates to emotional regulation and flow. I was describing a constricted emotional flow, what we commonly refer to in the West as “stress”.

Acupuncturists and other East Asian practitioners can often sound like they are speaking another language, because in a way they are. I started college as a linguist and I have maintained that interest to this day, so I think of a lot of things in terms of “language”.

As Americans, we speak the “language” of Western medicine. During my internships at Regions hospital, Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center I had to learn how to “translate” what I was saying because when I speak to my patients I often speak to them from the metaphor of Chinese medicine.

I’ve realized over time that it would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary for my patients to read, something I could reference over and over in future blog posts and newsletters.

So here it is: Acupuncture 101. I will cover some basic concepts (and misconceptions!) of commonly used words and phrases so that at your next appointment you can be prepared to talk to your acupuncturist.

What is qi? What are yin and yang? Check out this primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine and find out how to talk to your acupuncturist!

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What should you expect for your first acupuncture appointment? How big are the needles? What should you wear? What does acupuncture feel like? Check out the answers to these and more questions for acupuncture newbies!

What to expect for your first acupuncture appointment

Acupuncture – your mom has told you for years that it’s helped her headaches. Your best friend got it to help with her morning sickness. Your boss gets it for his chronic low back pain. So you’ve gone and done it – you made your first acupuncture appointment.

Now what?

Acupuncture’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years, but it’s very common for my new patients to be acupuncture first-timers. As newbies, it’s natural to have questions. My goal is to address many of the common questions I get before and at first appointments and give you a general idea what your session will like from beginning to end.

What should you expect for your first acupuncture appointment? How big are the needles? What should you wear? What does acupuncture feel like? Check out the answers to these and more questions for acupuncture newbies!

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