Acupuncture Helps Rockies Pitcher

Rockies pitcher Jason Hammel used acupuncture and herbs to heal his arm, and had great results!

After a forgettable finish last season, Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel turned to acupuncture and herbs. He did so at his wife’s suggestion, openly searching for a way to combat a dead arm and lacking energy that he traced to cholesterol medication.

He sought treatment three times a week, and has felt much better all around. See the rest of the article at the Denver Post.

It’s so nice to see that acupuncture is making the news as effective pain relief. I treat a lot of patients with pain conditions, and often get great results in just a few treatments. When we are treating pain, it’s said that if you get acupuncture weekly, it will take about a month for each year you have had the pain (sooner if you get treatments more often). But if the pain is acute, it can relive symptoms much faster, and with less side effects that pain medications. It’s nice to get relief without nausea, constipation, or dizziness that opioids can cause.

The Year of the Rabbit

Happy Lunar New Year!

Enjoy the Year of the Rabbit, which should be a welcome respite after the exciting yet tumultuous year of the Tiger. Many patients have commented to me that 2010 was an interesting year, but are hoping this year will be a little calmer. So take it easy, but don’t be too indulgent, and be sure to take some time to heal the body and mind with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

In keeping with the celebration of 2011, Portland has a lot of activities to welcome in the Lunar New Year. Check out the Lan Su Gardens downtown- they have talks about Chinese Medicine for each year (associating specific organs with each animal year), discussions on Feng Shui, and Tai Chi this month.

Have a wonderful 2011!

9000 Needles is Back in Portland

The documentary 9000 Needles will screen in Portland on Sunday, January 30 at the Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR 97212). I was fortunate enough to watch this film several months ago, and it was amazing. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in acupuncture, or stroke rehabilitation.

Here is a quick synopsis from the OAAOM site:

“Having suffered a devastating stroke, forty-year-old Devin Dearth fights for a chance at recovery while facing the confines of the U.S. healthcare system. This award-winning documentary by director Doug Dearth, follows his brother’s unconventional journey to Tianjin, China where he is immersed in a rehabilitation program which uses acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicines to treat stroke patients. Less an indictment of the health care industry, and more a story of one family’s love, faith and desire to overcome. 9000 Needles delivers a powerful and emotional message of hope, courage and the true power of the human spirit.”

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Doors open at 5:00 PM. Tickets are $10 General Admission ($5 for students and children)*. The screening is sponsored by the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM).

Contact [email protected] for more information, and visit for more information about the film.

Chiropractors practicing acupuncture?

Not in Oregon! Or at least that is the current argument we acupuncturists have against chiropractors, who want to use acupuncture as part of therapeutic treatment.

Check out this brief article in the Willamette Weekly about dry needling and the potential effects if the vote passes tomorrow.

The OAAOM also has a list of past letters written about this issue- read them on their website for more information

What do you think?

Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Winter

Winter has arrived. The weeks of rain, wind, and colder temperatures have notified us that the season is here. Staying indoors and sleeping are more appealing as our bodies try to keep warm, and cravings for certain foods may also be at the forefront of our minds.

In Traditional Chinese medicine, each season has an organ that belongs to it. Winter is the season of th Kidneys, which holds the essence of  our being and the root of our energy. Winter is also the season that has the most “Yin” aspect of Chinese medicine (think of the black side of the Taiji or YinYang symbol).

Yin is dark, movement is slow, and it represents cooler temperatures (in contrast to the Yang summer season, which is light, with more activity and warmth).

If you have an acupuncture treatment in the winter, the practitioner may use moxibustion to warm your cold extremities, low back, or abdomen. Moxibustion is a wonderful way to warm the body slowly, with lasting effects. Your acupuncturist may also recommend herbs to fight off colds, or to help with overeating that often occurs with the holidays.

A book that I often recommmend to patients is “Staying Healthy with the Seasons,” by Elson Hass, MD. This book discusses how to eat and exercise with each season and the changes that occur in nature and within our own bodies. In winter, it’s best to eat warm foods such as nourishing soups (my favorite is Chinese chicken herbal soup) and hearty stews help our bodies be still and keep warm.

It’s also important to keep up with some form of exercise routine, such as yoga, pilates, or your usual gym workouts. Even though we may not be sweating as much, out bodies still need water in this season. After all, it is the season of the Water element…

Acupuncture and IVF

Acupuncture improves the results of couples undergoing IVF. One study that had a positive outcome is the 2002 German study. This study tested a group of women undergoing IVF with acupuncture versus a group without acupuncture. The results were very positive:

“Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group (those who did not receive acupuncture).”

The online magazine Conceive posted this article about using acupuncture for women with fertility concerns. The article quotes Dr. Randine Lewis, a well-known practitioner and author of “The Infertility Cure,” and acupuncture offers three main points:

“The most important for older women–those over 35–is that there are acupuncture treatments that improve blood flow to the uterus that almost nothing else can do.” Secondly, explains Lewis, a little needling can help balance hormones by stimulating acupuncture points that moderate beta endorphins in the brain. Lastly, acupuncture reduces stress. “Basically,” says Lewis, “the body does not want you to get pregnant when you are under stress.”

I have treated several women undergoing IVF, and have found this to consistently be true. Having a lot of stress in your life makes it difficult to conceive, which is why I usually recommend weekly treatment for three months leading up to the embryo transfer, increasing the frequency of treatments just before the embryo transfer. While this seems like a lot of acupuncture, the stress reduction, increased blood flow, and overall improved health of the body makes a big difference in the outcome of IVF

If you are interested in the history of IVF, check out the RESOLVE video below of an interview with Dr. Howard Jones, the pioneer of IVF treatment.

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9000 Needles Documentary

Whether you are an acupuncture practitioner, a stroke victim, or just interested in seeing the amazing effects of acupuncture, I recommend you watch this documentary. The story of Devin Dearth, a bodybuilder who had a stroke at 40 years of age. The failure of the American health insurance is what takes Devin on a journey to China for a twelve week treatment plan. I won’t spoil it with all of the details, but I will say that there are some heart-wrenching moments in this documentary, and the results of the acupuncture therapy are absolutely amazing.

You can find more dates for screenings on the 9000 Needles website, and there has been some talk about another screening in the Portland area in the near future. Keep checking back on the OAAOM website for details!

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Autumn acupuncture articles

River Rapid

Now that summer break is over and autumn is officially here, it’s time to see what’s new with acupuncture!

-Acupuncture Chicago posted a research article on acupuncture and moxibustion turning breech babies with a breech presentation (baby’s head is up instead of down in utero). The technique has been used for centuries, and has been proven time and again to work when other methods won’t.

-The Acupuncture Relief Project is going to back to Nepal for the third year! Check out their website to donate and support this incredible program that helps hundreds of people every year in Chapagoan, Nepal.

-Lynn Jaffee of Twin Cities Acupuncture wrote a great article on weight loss. Acupuncture is a great adjunct to any weight loss program, and your practitioner can give you great ideas on which foods to eat, and the Chinese Medicine theories on which foods to eat and which foods to avoid when you are trying to lose weight.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chinese Medicine


Photo by Vivian Chen [陳培雯

There are an estimated 20 million Americans who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a condition also known as spastic colon, spastic colitis, nervous stomach, and functional bowel disease. If you have ever experienced about of diarrhea before a performance or major exam, or had loose stool during times of stress, then you have experienced what it’s like to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is also

Lynn Jaffee, LAc, describes the symptoms of IBS on the Acufinder site:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is labeled a “syndrome” because is involves a group of symptoms that varies for each individual who is affected. It involves abnormal movement of the small and large intestines (which is often referred to as a motility disorder). Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, and constipation and/or diarrhea (often in alternating episodes). IBS may also be accompanied by other gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, bloating, and nausea, and the symptoms are almost always aggravated by stress. Episodes may also be aggravated by eating, and are frequently relieved after a bowel movement.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work very well for for IBS symptoms. There are many techniques we can use to help with the symptoms of IBS, and with regular acupuncture treatments, some lifestyle changes, and an herbal formula made specifically for your constitution (body type), I have seen a lot of success and immense relief of symptoms in those suffering from IBS. Acupuncture is very good in reducing stress, which is a huge trigger for IBS symptoms. By reducing this stress and making changes towards better living, your chances of getting some relief from IBS improve greatly!

Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

-Be careful with food sensitivities and/or allergies. Gluten and dairy can cause a whole slew of gastrointestinal problems

-Avoid eating too many types of foods at one time (i.e. please don’t eat an entire cake in one sitting….it will cause problems…)

-Steam vegetables rather that eating them raw

-Emphasize a high fiber diet, and include freshly ground flax seeds and whole grains as part of your daily carbohydrate intake

-All foods must be eaten slowly, chewed and salivated well (the enzymes in your saliva break down food)

-Eat in a calm and somewhat quiet atmosphere (no reading or watching television while eating)

Watch this video with Dr. Igor Schwartzman at Dr. Schwartman demonstrates an easy way to calm your breathing, and offers additional information on some causes of IBS. He also recommends some beneficial herbs and teas that may also help with IBS symptoms, such as camomile and slippery elm.

Acupuncture: Proven Painkiller

A new study has come up with the result that acupuncture has the ability to release a natural painkiller, adenosine, in the body.

An article in a recent issue of Nature Neuroscience indicates that at least one of acupuncture’s reported benefits may finally have concrete support and a proposed mechanism of action thanks to laboratory experiments. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, and the National Institute of Health report that a neuromodulator (a chemical agent secreted by neurons) called adenosine is the key to why acupuncture lessens pain associated with inflammation and chronic neuropathic problems.

These findings were interesting, and I’d like to see this study recreated on human subjects (instead of mice) to see the effects and what the differences, if any, there would be.

You can download a PDF or full text of the article on the Nature Neuroscience site. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this study!

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