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The sky wasn’t clear, but it was too warm for snow. Yep, it was pollen. Those of us who are sensitive to cedar have been dealing with this for months, but spring is just around the corner, and so are seasonal allergies!

Can you needle my nasal passages open? Actually, I think I’ve gotten better at it. When I first started, about 7/10 people said that point is really uncomfortable (years later, I think maybe more people don’t find it uncomfortable than are hurt), but 9/10 people could breathe much better as soon as it went in. This point is called bitong, it is next to your nose at the top of the nasolabial crease, and it makes you look like you have whiskers when they’re in. >^_^<

What about this eye itch? And the drainage is killing me. Yo, me too. Like with a lot of things, people have varied responses to treatment. I know some folks who get by with a few treatments a year and herbs. I need Zyrtec more than not, so I’m jealous! Anyway, it may be allergies, and it may just be all the particulate in the air. With that in mind, it’s all about exposure management. I love the energy saving concept of drying laundry outside, but that’s a big nope if you’re trying to manage symptoms. Encase your pillows if you feel worse in the morning; you might be allergic to dust. Rinse off before bed (hair is an issue! I know. Perhaps experiment with a snood or something if you absolutely can’t rinse your hair before bed once you’re indoors for the day), and give your bedding a hot wash every week or so.

What else can I be doing to manage my symptoms? Whatever you’re doing, try to be consistent for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Some people take herbs or supplements like nettles or quercetin. If you have low vitamin D, you may be prone to more inflammation, which is going to make your face extra uncomfortable during hayfever season. Some people do better without dairy, and almost everybody would be better off eating less added sugar. If you do come to see me, remind me to give you some free chrysanthemum tea (really great springtime tea, and helps with the eye itch) and I have a wedge pillow for when lying flat makes it hard to breathe.

I’ve had a few new folks and a few regulars ask the question lately, so here’s a revisit for y’all who don’t already know the story.

Like many people, I had it done, got great results, and was totally fascinated by the process. Half my school was referred by their acupuncturist, I think. For me, I ended up moving away to Texas to figure out my life, and it’s just what I ended up doing.

What were you getting treated?

I made the appointments for side effects of antidepressants. I took several different kinds in my 20s, and whatever boost they gave me, they all had a bit of a breaking-in period. My appetite and sleep were almost always affected, whether increase or decrease. This particular drug was a doozy; I couldn’t keep my eyes closed, I could barely swallow, and I shook like I’d drunk a pot of coffee. I was desperate, but I was also curious. Would this be better than sedatives?

I bought the 5 treatment package and made a few appointments. I was shocked at how relaxing it was. Even when one of the pins was triggering a reflex, I laid on my back, bemused, as my right leg kicked the air until my acupuncturist returned to the room to take them out. It didn’t take two weeks for me to start having dreams, which meant I was sleeping. Preparing food and eating also was no longer an impossible chore. And I actually felt happier and more hopeful, which was usually why I was taking drugs!* For me, better than sedatives, but I was also unemployed, so 3+ extra hours in my week to go more than once for extra long sessions didn’t phase me one bit. And as I tried to think of what to do next, studying this seemed like a good thing to do.

So acupuncture isn’t just for pain?

I kind of consider mental imbalance a sort of emotional pain, and there is often physical pain involved! It’s funny you ask, since I often have people say they didn’t know it was for pain! I wonder if those people think there is a reason for acupuncture at all. I think people mostly consider acupuncture when something hurts. I also see people who have digestive disorders, Bell’s Palsy, reproductive issues, allergies, or just need to relax. A lot of times people ask if I treat [x] and it’s something I see multiple times a week. Other times people ask if I know anything about [y] and I have literally never heard of it. Better to ask in advance so we’re on the same page.

What did you do before you were an acupuncturist?

My undergraduate degrees are in computer science and math. I was in software development, which was lucrative until it wasn’t. (Times were pretty tough in the dot bomb era for a junior engineer in a niche field.) It is again, but I’ve figured out how to do this now. One of my favorite teachers also had an engineering background. His needling patterns often represented a strut. Not always (usually not, actually) needling in the area of complaint, but there was a logic behind the chosen points. Zeroes and ones, yin and yang, optimizing circuits, it’s not the job that changed, it’s the medium.

What are some examples of when your patients have had their lives changed?

The question I was actually asked was have I saved anyone’s life. Not in that sense, that I can remember. I lost my father last year, so I can say with some stoicism that everybody dies. But in student clinic, we had the mostly blind old man who started to look people in the eye when conversing, who could look out the window and count the cars in the street, who said one evening on being called to dinner by his wife, “Can I sit here and look at the Christmas tree some more? I can see it!” Early on in my career, there was the man with terminal cancer who couldn’t smell or taste from the radiation treatments. He got those senses back and really enjoyed his last Thanksgiving meal. Now, would I say I treat anosmia and blindness? Of course not! There are other conditions that I am extremely confident about being able to help, but I still say, “Let’s try it a few times and see what happens.” Those are just the most outstanding stories of when something cool does happen.

*There is nature and nurture, and some people are going to be really helped by exercise, community, meaningful work, etc. Some people have a chemical imbalance, are doing all of the above anyway, and need drugs. I think, personally, I am somewhere in between, as are a lot of people. Never shame people for their broken brain chemistry or whatever disease. My career is in natural medicine, but I wince at the term “Big Pharma” and conspiracy minded talk. Prescription drugs are another tool in the box, often more powerful, sometimes with more side effects, but if they are a necessary net good for a patient, they should be used.

Cue Marvin Gaye, then Salt-N-Pepa, lol Now, I could go on all day about affirmative consent, getting tested, safe sex, it being a natural thing that doesn’t need to be shamed, but lots of other people have already said it, and I think you know the George Michael song! Please don’t get pervy and gross with me about this, ok?

Cardio isn’t really an acupuncture specialty of mine, but I’m just blogging in a timely manner about an essential wellness subject. Specifically, I want to call attention to how a good heart is essential for sex. I’m not just talking about love. Literally, good cardiovascular health is necessary for functioning genitalia. Think about all the blood vessels involved, right? Viagra was originally developed to be a cardiovascular drug (reducing high blood pressure and relieving chest pain, fortunately for the drug company, while it didn’t work for those, it had a highly marketable side effect).

No kidding, in first year Oriental Medical Theory, we learned there are guidelines limiting how often a man1 should have sex for optimal health. (Less often as they get older and/or health declines) Frequently listed in the patient recommendations for various conditions such as dizziness, low back pain, weak knees, and frequent urination, is to limit sexual activity. So, really, like weight, talking about sex can be a basic part of the intake interview, but people tend to either take it weird or try to make me uncomfortable, and it’s usually not worth the little diagnostic data. Centuries ago, for modesty’s sake, physicians used to treat women based on taking their pulse through a curtain, so there are plenty of other ways to gather information!

This post isn’t for new information, re: eat, drink, move, and sleep in proper quality and quantity.2  It does give another why, though. When you consider fitness, aesthetics, quality of muscle and blood vessel health, avoiding clots, strokes, and heart attacks, an added bonus is retaining sexual function.


1The lower energy center, or the dan tian in women contains the uterus, while in men it contains the “room of essence.” The correlate to too much sex for men is excessive childbirth in women, and the idea is that a person needs adequate recovery time, or their health will suffer.

2 Here’s a longer article than I felt like trying to get into for a valentine’s day joke. It’s not bad reading, a light refresher if you’ve studied wellness according to east-asian tradition, and well linked to send you down the rabbit hole if you havent. 

After singing the praises of modern medicine, I will say, what I do can be pretty good for the subclinical (when you don’t feel like this warrants a trip to the doctor—though I will use my judgment on encouraging you to go) and the undiagnosable (uhh, your scans and labs are fine and we don’t know why it hurts or your body is doing whatever it’s doing). See me because you got a recommendation, because I’m close, because my license is in good standing, because you like the way I write. I do my best to tell all my new patients1 to give it a try a few times without being a stranger in between. Hopefully we get you some results, but acupuncture isn’t for everybody, and I’m not for everybody. *shrug*

You just ranted about how you’re not a doctor, what’s with the scrubs–

They’re super comfortable, and it saves me from figuring out what to wear in the morning.

and the stethoscope? Why do you take my blood pressure and stuff?

So, I was talking about primary care last post, and how a lot of people don’t get it. The State of Texas has some recommendations of other healthcare practitioners with that in mind. I used to go to a dentist who always took blood pressures. Why? Because most people don’t keep track of it, and it’s a good practice for people to have their blood pressure checked every so often. They might catch it high on someone, and that might make them keep track and know if they need to get it properly managed. I don’t do labs, but I check blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, and SpO2 (how well your blood is carrying oxygen to your fingertips, where it is measured). I don’t always get around to checking weight, but I really should! Unexplained2 weight fluctuations (5% over 6-12 months) are a banner symptom. And on that banner is written, “GO TO THE DOCTOR AND START FIGURING THIS OUT.”

My back hurts. Why are you asking me so many questions?

That’s sort of fair, as I might not if you’ve been in an accident or your wrist hurts or something. But if I’m asking, it is either relevant to what I decide in how to treat you, it may uncover something else that’s bothering you that I can help with, or both. Back and knee pain are specific kinds of pains that we get a lot of background training about where other symptoms and lifestyle factors can guide us in choosing treatment. Same for headaches. In general, I will ask at least


  1. Where does it hurt? How does it hurt? Dull, sharp, numb, tight? Is it better or worse in the morning/night? With hot/cold? With movement/rest?
  2. How are you sleeping? Soundly? Do you feel rested in the morning? If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, what time?
  3. Do you have enough energy or are you fatigued?
  4. Do you tend to feel hot or cold easily?
  5. Do you sweat normal, a lot, or a little? Hot flashes or clammy hands? Hot feelings in the body but with cold finger and toe tips?
  6. Do you have an appetite? Any nausea or other digestive upset?
  7. How are your bowel movements?
  8. Do you have normal water metabolism? Thirst and urination about where they should be? If you aren’t drinking water, are you not thirsty, or do you drink other beverages?
  9. Do you feel depressed, anxious, or otherwise mentally/emotionally unsettled?
  10. (Female) Are your periods okay? Regular? If you don’t get them anymore, when you did, were they very heavy or clotty?

By themselves, any one question might not be so important. Many of them might be little annoyances you’ve just gotten used to as normal for you. Put together, they give me a snapshot of you and a strong suggestion of how to structure your treatment plan.



1Some people have gotten acupuncture before seeing me, and they got miraculous results on a single treatment. Look, I’ve been in practice for 12 years, and while it’s happened before, NOT USUALLY. So don’t get mad if it doesn’t.

2Not trying. You’re dieting and going to the gym and you’ve lost your beer gut? Awesome. Good for you. You’re not doing anything different and you’ve lost your beer gut? Lucky you, maybe, but go find out if something is wrong. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it.

Some of my colleagues want to be primary care and to be called doctor. Some of them have had the education to claim the title. I have not. I have a masters degree in Oriental Medicine, and I have been in practice for 12 years. I wish everybody had a great relationship with a primary care provider who was much more competent than myself. But. Some of you aren’t insured, some of you think you’re invincible, and some of you, for whatever reason, won’t go to the doctor. Yet all of you bitch about your health on Facebook.

Health is largely dependent on lifestyle/personal habits and behaviors. These can be separate blog posts, even an industry, but basically, eat quality and variety, exercise the right amount consistently, drink enough water, and get enough sleep*. Genetics and environment are also huge factors, which leaves the rest up to what we call medical care. My professors reminded us often that diet, exercise, and meditation are foundational, and acupuncture and herbs only do so much. Beyond traditional medicine, modern medicine can be stronger, but when other factors are working against it, medicine can only do so much.

Why should I see my primary care doctor?

Well, first off, sometimes you just know. There is a nasty flu that’s going around right now that has a tendency to become pneumonia. In general, though, medical care tends to be expensive. I know, so is insurance. Medical care tends to be more manageable when you are insured. And even more manageable when things are detected early. For example, better you notice your blood sugar is persistently high year after year and do something about it, rather than develop diabetes and all its complications.

The jury’s still out on if you need a physical every single year, but I think there is value in getting a snapshot every so often. I like checking my blood results, because it’s a progress report. Not a report card; it’s for my own improvement, rather than exterior judgment. Blood tests show lipids, inflammation, cell counts, sugars, hormone balance, liver function, important things to know about what’s going on inside you. Each of them could be their own subject. As I said in my last post, mine have showed I’m not eating as well as I could, and I do need to step it up with my exercising.

Why should I be insured?

In discussing the purchase or not of health insurance, I’ve had some people talk about the folly of preventive care and how it doesn’t really prevent much. Women, when you hit 40, you’ll find out mammograms aren’t cheap. Men, when you hit 50, same thing for colonoscopies. Still, by the numbers, it may be cheaper to go uninsured IF these tests find nothing. Well. Maybe you don’t believe in cancer, but statistically, if you live long enough, it’s coming for you. You can load the dice with clean living, but the snake eyes combination is still there.

It does not affect my bottom line terribly much whether you have insurance or not, since it usually won’t pay me. However, realistically, I can do a lot, and I can’t do a lot. Acupuncture might take the edge off your headaches, herbs might reduce the frequency of hot flashes, but if you have diabetes, chances are, you will need expensive medication. Do you still have your appendix and your gall bladder? Sometimes bad things happen. Insurance can be the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe. I know, it’s a real budget buster, but much more so is breaking your arm or needing surgery. So that’s my soapbox of the week: if at all possible, get insurance and take good advantage of it.


*Eat right does not mean live on kale and air. This does not mean “everything tasty is bad for you and everything grody is good for you.” Though if you refuse to have an open mind, that leads to a really limited diet, which is not super healthy. Like all things, it’s relative. There was a teenager in the news a few years ago who died, who never ate anything but chicken nuggets. And to her, life was not worth living if she had to eat anything else. You make your choices.

I know a lot of people who don’t believe in drinking water. If your pee is clear and you are happy with your weight, skin, joints, bowel movements, and don’t get headaches or other pains, okay, maybe you are drinking enough water. If you’re coming to see me because oww, this hurts, and you never drink water, DRINK MORE WATER. I got an infuser bottle as a present a couple years ago, and a few slices of lemon or cucumber actually do make it more interesting. If you eat a lot of high moisture foods like soups, you can get away with less. If you sweat a lot, or in very low humidity times like when the heat has been running for a while in the winter, you probably need more. Your goal in ounces is the number of your weight in pounds, divided by 2. So someone about 120-130 pounds should try for a half gallon (64 oz).

Exercise regularly does not mean run to exhaustion once a month or so. Yoga has different benefits from exercise, and though it’s not easy, it’s not quite enough. This doesn’t mean weights only and no cardio, and on the flip side, do lift some weights, ladies, muscle is important and strong is cool. Gradually work up to it, and be regular. I have had a lifelong tendency to alternate being a gym rat for about 2 months and an utterly sedentary person for 2 years. I’m gradually working up my step count with a pedometer, and I’m pretty happy with myself if I can do a chinup and a pullup. One of these days I’ll be able to do a couple in a row.

Most people need 7-8 hours a night. Without proper sleep, the body goes into stress fighting mode, which means the metabolism slows down, inflammation goes up, and anything bad is going to get worse. Your body is made to deal with alternating demands and rest. Keep those balanced, and there are a lot of drugs you can avoid taking.

When I research different conditions, it is really surprising how often patients are advised to eat more fruits and vegetables, less processed food, get enough sleep and exercise. It seems very repetetive. There is a reason for it, though, because it’s actually good for everything, sometimes impressively so!

Happy new year, everybody! I’m wishing you a year of peace, health, and happiness. And will be blogging to promote you going to get it yourself!

What is your why? Are you over resolutions yet? Chances are, like resolving to make more money this year, if you don’t work at it, being happier, getting your house organized, getting to a more comfortable weight, etc. aren’t going to happen. What do you want/need to happen? How can you get there?

This year, my why is high cholesterol. No, I didn’t start working on it today, yes, I am renewing my commitment to healthier habits today. This is not my first go-round with high cholesterol. I had a high reading prepuberty, when in junior high we got to get lunch ala carte instead of standing in line for the tray. Once I stopped eating Doritos and milkshakes for lunch, it got a lot better. And since the late aughts, I was on a three year cycle. 1: Test high, diet like crazy 2: test well, diet less 3: test a little higher, stop dieting 1: test high, lather, rinse repeat. Except, after my 2016 test, my dad got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. As you can imagine, I didn’t diet for shit that year, and 2017 gave me another very high test.

I really like dairy. I like cheese, ice cream, milkshakes, sour cream, Mexican crema, clotted cream, chocolate milk, really, all of it. I am eating yogurt every day, and the rest is a treat, maybe once a week or so. I’m really trying to get realistic identifying a snack versus a treat. I’m a good Texan, love a rare steak, but I am limiting my beef intake. I eat salmon once a week. I’m supplementing with fish oil and vitamin D (which I did test low). I’m a decade older than when this started, and my willpower for dieting isn’t what it used to be. So I knew I needed to exercise.

Which brings me to taking time for yourself. I know, not everyone has the privilege of time. I would guess at least 70% of my patients wouldn’t need to see me if they would slow the eff down. I know, we all have bills to pay. But in the same way financial planners say, “Pay yourself first!” I am saying, take care of yourself first. Put the mask on you before you put one on your kid, lest you fall unconscious, you know? So, four days a week, I am taking a mid day break. I work out, I eat lunch, I shower, if the timing works out and I have an extra hour, I do laundry, and then I come back to work, refreshed for the second half of the day. Tuesday through Thursday, this happens at lunch time. On Monday evenings, I stay late, so I take my break at tea time.

I get retested at the end of April, so stay tuned! What are you working on this year?

(Where I admit I can’t fix everything.)

When I first started my practice over a decade ago, devices weren’t that common, and people still used computers and mice. I saw an awful lot of carpal tunnel, and I was really good with it.

Times change. Most everybody now has a screen to carry around; people look down and scroll with their thumbs all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading on a screen. It’s easier to carry than a heavy book, and you don’t have the problem of the margins being too narrow when the book has too many pages. However, there were drafting tables and book stands when I was in college. My parents nagged me about my posture all the time when I was a kid.

Tech-neck is actually a thing. In our office, I think it is better served by chiropractic, though I have worked on it, too. Like with most things, prevention is valuable, so take breaks, hold/angle/prop-up your screens so you aren’t looking down all the time, and stretch your neck and back frequently.

Did your acupuncturist fix the pain at the base of your thumb? If so, I want to meet her! I myself am rocking the brace and/or a patch more often than not these days. Carpal tunnel is a LOT easier to work with. When you blow a joint, you have to stop using it so much. DO YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN WE USE OUR THUMBS? And we’re wasting the use of this precious joint on screens?!? I am a big believer of “make it worth it.” Blow your diet on something you’re not supposed to? Savor it. Make it the best cheeseburger you ever tasted in your life. Back felt great until a day of golf? I will tell you when you’re in my office again, I hope you had a great time! This one is stupid, and I can tell you because I have it. So get yourself a keyboard for your tablet, change up your typing fingers frequently instead of staying on your thumbs, and, this is crazy, but, maybe actually call someone once in a while.

Probably not, and while I sympathize, I’m not excited about scheduling an appointment with you. If it’s a C section you want to avoid, you may need help that I am unqualified to provide. And if it’s an induction, chances are very good that you’re going to go into labor anyway, forget to cancel, and then I could have actually helped someone in that hour I set aside for you. Tomorrow is too soon. If you want to try acupressure, Debra Betts’ website is a great resource. You can download a free booklet, order a DVD, or get an app with the points that might help.


I’ll see you if you’ve got close to a week, but the best time for acupuncture to influence/optimize labor is starting around week 36-37. Please bear in mind that the baby is going to do what it is going to do. We are not working on the baby. We are not turning the baby, we are not inducing the baby. We are working on Mom to provide the best environment, so, for example, if baby needs to turn, we are encouraging Mom’s body to make space for that to happen. When it’s approaching time for baby to come meet the world, we support Mom’s body in having the strength and circulation needed for that. Unfortunately, we can’t make baby do anything. (Get used to that, sorry!)

Ironically, you might think, I was talking snake oil with another practitioner, and we were working ourselves up over the myriad of things with which we’ve seen people harming themselves.

“Cups of undiluted acv! And they wonder why their stomachs hurt!”

“Who told this lady to take 1000 units of vitamin E when she was already on a blood thinner?!?”

“It was the detox tea that was making the liver enzymes go crazy!”

I’ve said many times that I’m sure not in this for the money. Marketing is very often about calling attention to imperfections, making the consumer feel bad about themselves and implying that this product is what will fix it. Tell you a secret, though, in general, most things are going to get better anyway eventually. Sometimes coming in to see me helps give a little boost, often enough that I’m still in business after eleven years.

I read a lot. I have been reading about wellness since before the internet was common. I continue to read about different conditions and how people can better take care of themselves. There isn’t a lot that seems new. Drink water. Eat more fruits and veg and less processed food. Get some exercise. Get some sleep. Breathe. Get some sun, but not too much. Actually, “get some ___, but not too much,” is pretty good general advice. There seems to be something new all the time, but it’s either a new product someone is trying to profit off of, or it’s the same old advice translated into clickbaitese. For example: putting lemons, herbs, cucumber, etc. in your water isn’t going to turn it into a magic fatburner/cancer fighter/anti ager, but it will make it taste more interesting, which will probably make you drink more of it, which is good for you in general.

Off the top of my head, plantar fasciitis and frozen shoulder are a couple of things that respond startlingly well to acupuncture. For a lot of stuff, though, what do you want? How can you get there? What have you been doing? Is it helping? What is it costing you in money or personal effort? There is a lot I don’t know, but sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see the connections you’re not. My license is in acupuncture. It’s not well explained, but it’s not magic or mystic, and needles might be the least important thing you get.


How’s your new year going? It took me a while to get back into my routines, such as they are, including cooking myself a decent lunch when I am home. A quinoa bowl is pretty easy. I like at least a green, but squash and/or fruit is nice, too. I had this last week with chunks of baked acorn squash, mixed nuts and raisins, and vinaigrette instead of miso, with chicken broth instead of water in the rice cooker. Most things I start by frying some onions and garlic, but today felt like bacon.

And sake. (Which is technically beer, rather than wine, despite its ABV and usual presentation. It is a grain brewed beverage that is not meant to be aged.) This dish isn’t perfectly virtuous, but it’s rather better than cheetos and a coke, or if it were literally the title. That’s life, y’all. Do good enough rather than be paralyzed by perfection, right?

So. The rice cooker gets a cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. The wok gets a piece of bacon over medium heat. Start tearing a bunch of kale into it when the bacon is done. No stems. It will spatter a lot at first, but a bunch is a lot of kale. Mix it to wilt. Scooch it to the side so you can see the bottom. There’s a bunch of sort of burnt bacon funk stuck to the bottom of the pan, isn’t there. Pour a shot of sake on it and stir. Should lift right off. Turn off the heat, and mix in the quinoa when it’s done.

Taste. Ugh, bland. A big spoon of miso fixed that up for me. There is plenty of room in a wok to mix, and it’s less important than in soup to smooth the miso chunks out. Some hot sauce would be good, too. Now I have at least one meal. And while the huge, unwieldy wok is a pain to wash, the alcohol did most of the work. How often can you say that in a good way?

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