The Bulging Disc and Back Pain…

Linda came to the office with her MRI report in hand. The report revealed minimal disc bulges in her lower back from lumbar 2 to lumbar 5, and degenerative bony ridges from lumbar 5 into sacral 1.

The good news was that she did not require surgery or have a more serious condition like a herniation of the discs or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal cord). The bad news was that she was in constant pain and had a limited range of motion throughout her lower back.

Linda had been suffering with right-sided back pain for the past fourteen months. She experienced daily pain varying anywhere from a dull ache to sharp and shooting pain. Linda had to limit any bending or twisting, and had even giving up exercising on her stationary bike because of the pain.

The doctor had prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and muscular relaxants along with physical therapy. The physical therapy had helped reduce the stiffness in her low back, but did not help with her pain levels.

Linda wanted to be able to stop taking her anti-inflammatories and her pain medications as she felt they were affecting her health adversely. But without a solution, she was still in too much pain and discomfort to stop.


During our intake, Linda was anxious and concerned that she would suffer from stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in her lower back for the rest of her life. Linda was a 42-year-old single mother with an 11-year-old son to support. She had endured a contentious divorce several years back and had been given sole custody of her son, which left very little time for self-care or exercise.

Linda was forced […]

By |February 27th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Bulging Disc and Back Pain…

2013…Year of the Snake

2013 is the year of the black Snake begins on February 10th shortly after the New moon in Aquarius, the humanitarian of the zodiac. This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create. The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 Animal Signs. It is the enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animals Signs. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve.

By |February 13th, 2013|Chinese Medicine|Comments Off on 2013…Year of the Snake

Oh My Aching Lower Back and Hip…

Back pain can sideline the strongest of us. When an ache becomes a chronic pain, even something as small as a single step can feel like too much. Here is one woman’s story of coming back from the sidelines to recover from a seemingly endless amount of pain, and how acupuncture helped.

Mindy’s Pain

Mindy came to my office after suffering for one year from bursitis in her right hip and referred tightness and soreness in her low back. She had made all the rounds with the medical doctors and had all the tests and procedures needed to diagnose bursitis of the hip. At the end of the day she was told to take over the counter anti-inflammatories and have physical therapy sessions twice weekly.

Even with the anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, the pain was unbearable. Too much walking, standing, or sitting caused the hip to ache, which then referred into the right side of her back and into her right knee. She had difficulty getting up and down from seated positions. She walked with a limp and could not get comfortable sitting, standing, or lying down. Her sleep was disturbed because her hip pain woke her throughout the night. She had a 24/7 pain cycle that kept her very stressed, anxious, and depressed.

After months of painful physical therapy did nothing to relive the hip and back pain, Mindy’s doctor resorted to injections of cortisone shots into her aching hip. But this proved ineffective as well. Her doctor told her to take her medications daily for the pain and that she should “be happy that she didn’t have arthritis in her hip.” She felt dismissed and discouraged with this “recommendation.”

Why Acupuncture?

Through the entire ordeal Mindy had also […]

By |February 6th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on Oh My Aching Lower Back and Hip…

Oh My Aching Back…

Back pain is one of the most common and costly conditions that motivates people to seek medical attention. Did you know that more than one million people in the USA are affected with back pain, costing an estimated 37 million dollars annually? This adds up to millions of hours of lost work and productivity, not to mention the pain and suffering of countless people.

Half of all adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime, making this a significant source of inconvenience and suffering. This is also one of the most common reasons that many patients seek my help with acupuncture and herbal treatments. Back pain comes in many shapes and sizes, intensities, and durations, making the treatment of each patient an individualized one.

How Does Back Pain Present?

Common causes of back pain are sprains and strains that can occur from over-stretching or over-loading the muscles and ligaments. This can occur suddenly, as with a fall or accident, or over time through wear and tear from poor posture, improper use, or structural imbalances (like scoliosis, curative of the spine).

Other common ways back pains present are:

Disc herniation or subluxation — when a disc that is the inner cushioning between the vertebrae bulges out causing compression of the nerve root in some cases. This can cause referred pain to other areas of the body.
Sciatica — a nerve that begins at the spinal cord and goes to the hips, buttocks, and then branches down each leg. It is when the sciatica nerve is irritated or inflamed that one experiences pain, most often radiating into the buttocks or down the legs, causing pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.
Osteoarthritis — when wear and tear on the joints […]

By |January 23rd, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on Oh My Aching Back…

The Infertile Patient, Isn’t… and Becomes Pregnant

The distraught patient… fertility and Chinese Medicine

When studying Chinese Medicine in school I was never prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride of treating an infertility patient. I studied acupuncture point prescription and herbal protocol for enhancing the endocrine system, but there was never a mention of assisted reproduction with drugs and surgery. When I opened my own practice, I found myself integrating ancient medicine with modern cutting-edge fertility treatments. You have to be a quick study to keep up with this new approach in treating the many patients that come knocking at the doors of Chinese Medicine clinics!

“Fertility enhancement” is the term I like to use with my patients — from my point of view “infertility” sounds so doomed and final. These patients need hope, understanding, and a treatment plan that can increase the chances for becoming pregnant with a healthy baby! Happily, Chinese Medicine is effective in doing just that.

The Science Behind Fertility Treatments

Many studies have been published and books have been written that show the profound benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine for enhancing fertility. One recent study from Israel showed a 42.5% pregnancy rate when acupuncture treatment was used in conjunction with assisted reproduction, as compared to the 21.3% of assisted reproduction without acupuncture treatment. This gives a huge leg up to the fertility patient.

These exciting studies and books have piqued the interest of fertility doctors, clinics, and patients seeking additional help in achieving their dreams of becoming parents. It is commonplace for fertility clinics to also recommend acupuncture treatment alongside the IUI (Intrauterine insemination fertilization) and IVF (In vitro fertilization) protocols for their patients. These studies have actually altered the number of fertility patients that are seen weekly […]

By |January 16th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Infertile Patient, Isn’t… and Becomes Pregnant

The Desperate Patient

The Desperate Patient … who finds her way

As an acupuncturist, I frequently get desperate phone calls, e-mails, and texts from patients that have exhausted every avenue trying to cure their affliction and in a last ditch, “what the hell effort,” have decided to give acupuncture a try. OY!! These patients tend to be my hardest cases, as they are frustrated, scared, angry, mistrusting, and downright exhausted from seeking help and getting none.

Sometimes their expectations are high — they want a miracle to occur and want to be healed in one to two treatments just like their friends, colleagues, or spouses. Other times their expectations are low — they are total non-believers in Chinese Medicine, but there are no other choices left for them to try but this “voodoo” medicine. Starting a relationship with either too much or too little trust and unrealistic expectations is a tough way to begin.

It is a hard road working with and educating the so-called “difficult-to-treat patients” that are most often discarded from the western medical community. These patients are sometimes labeled “crazy,” “difficult,” “non-compliant,” “not listening,” “too demanding,” ”hysterical,” or just plain “silly.” This may be so, but to get shuffled off to another expert while being left without answers and meaningful treatment plans seems unfair.

This is the very type patient that called me last year. The patient, Anita, was utterly distraught and very frightened about her health condition when we first spoke on the phone. She came for a consultation after getting my name from a very satisfied colleague.
Anita wanted to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss her health issues before committing to acupuncture or herbal treatment.

It was a fall day when Anita, a very sweet, pleasant, Caucasian, […]

By |January 9th, 2013|Case Study|Comments Off on The Desperate Patient

Taoism and Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism, a philosophy which suggests that a part can be understood only in its relation to the whole. Chinese Medicine uses this holistic approach — a person who is living in harmony with nature has mental, physical, and spiritual balance. And when an imbalance occurs, the complete physiological and psychological aspects of the patient are taken into consideration in the diagnosis. The treatment seeks to restore balance and harmony to the body.

In Chinese Medicine there is a systematic way of distinguishing the patterns of disharmony, understanding the relationships between all the signs and symptoms of these imbalances, and prescribing treatment that restores balance. This is a medicine of prevention and cultivation of longevity.

Because of the importance of Taoism to acupuncture, it was not surprising that “Philosophy of Chinese Medicine” was my first required course in the Masters of Traditional Chinese program. My eyes were opened to a new way of viewing health and treating disease.

The “Tao” meaning “the way” or the “path” is the concept of living a righteous way of life that is balanced, simple and in tune with nature. Lao Tzu is considered one of the founding fathers of Taoism and in his book the Tao Te Ching one can find his profound teachings on the subject of living the Tao way. The three treasures that illuminate the teachings of Lao Tzu are: living with compassion, in moderation, and with humility.

By |December 19th, 2012|Chinese Medicine|Comments Off on Taoism and Chinese Medicine

More About Meridians

The meridian system in acupuncture is the very foundation of Chinese Medicine, and was mapped out more than 2,000 years ago. The meridians represent the principal pathways that qi, blood, and fluids are circulated throughout the body, tissues, and organs, providing them with nourishment and energy. These pathways are vital in the communication among the organs, muscles, glands, and digestive and endocrine systems, as well as the brain. It is this communication that makes the body a unified whole.

Acupuncturists believe that when qi flows freely, there is no pain or disease. But when there is stagnation of qi, pain, disease, or disfunction shows up in the body. It is up to the acupuncturist to maintain this free flow of qi, blood, and fluid in the body. This is where the knowledge of meridians is most important, and most helps patients maintain abundant health.

How Do They Work?

Meridians are complicated to understand, and take years to fully comprehend. I’ll try to simplify the theory here to illuminate the process. There are twelve paired yin and yang meridians, and two unpaired channels. Each of the twelve meridians are bilateral and are associated with an organ of the body.

The two unpaired meridians are the Governing or Du meridian, and the Conception or Ren meridian. The Governing meridian runs along the center of the spine, along the back of the body, and represents the yang or the masculine aspect of the meridian system. The Conception meridian runs along the center of the front of the body, and is the yin or feminine aspect of the meridians.

These two opposite channels represent the yin and yang at the center of the body. Balancing the yin and yang of the body is fundamental […]

By |December 12th, 2012|Acupuncture|Comments Off on More About Meridians

How Acupuncture Works

How does acupuncture work?

This question has been plaguing me since my first experience receiving acupuncture over thirty years ago.

When I was a patient, I was just satisfied that it did work. I treated it like a strange magic that made me well again, and left it at that. I had a blind faith in the Chinese way of healing people.

It was only when I decided to become an practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine that my burning desire to really find out the truth about how it really works was set into motion. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in NYC had accepted me into their four year Master’s program, and I was embarking on a journey to find out the hidden knowledge of this 2,000 year old ancient medicine.

Finally the mystery behind the medicine that heals on so many levels would be unveiled for me to know and understand! All I needed was to pay my tuition and the truth would then be revealed.

Well, nothing could have been further from the truth.

In the four years of the Master’s program I took all the classes I could to unlock the mystery: fundamentals of Chinese medicine, Chinese philosophy, fundamentals of acupuncture, and herbology, to name a few. There was not one explanation offered in any of the classes that could satisfy my western scientific mind. This, after all, was not in my culture; the talk of qi (life force), meridians (paths through which qi flows), and yin and yang was an exciting foreign language and way of viewing the world. But I still lacked an explanation of how acupuncture treatments could have such a transformative effect on my patients.

I was looking for some sort of scientific […]

By |December 2nd, 2012|Acupuncture|Comments Off on How Acupuncture Works

Stick out Your Tongue!

First time patients are often surprised when asked to stick out their tongue. And they are even more puzzled when six pulses are taken on both wrists.

The tongue and pulse are the diagnostic tools that help acupuncturists formulate a Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment plan. The treatment plan includes the choice of acupuncture points, the understanding of the specific meridians that need to be regulated, and whether or not herbal medicine will be used. But before a treatment plan can be established, acupuncturists must first consult the tongue and pulse.

I like to think of reading the tongue and pulse as looking into a window into the internal workings of my patients. Both are good indicators of what is going on internally with respect to the health and balance of the body. This is a valuable way of checking in, and a useful gauge for monitoring the improvements or decline of established patients’ health from treatment to treatment, or to observe clinical manifestations in the first time patient.

Reading the Tongue

The tongue is a map of your body’s organs. There are five zones that correspond to each of the internal organs.

When examining the tongue the color, shape, size, texture, and coating are all important aspects of consideration. A normal tongue appears vibrant and has a light red or pinkish body with a thin white coat. A baby’s tongue is a great example of a normal tongue.

When a person is not healthy, the tongue reflect this change. A deep red tongue can indicate inflammation or heat and, in contrast, a pale tongue can indicate anemia or blood vacuity. And a purplish tongue points to poor circulation, or what is known as blood stasis.

The observation of the color of the […]

By |November 28th, 2012|Acupuncture|Comments Off on Stick out Your Tongue!