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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?

I am so three weeks ago, but I also haven’t updated since March. What is cupping and what does it do aside from give you hickeys in perfect circles? 

Basically, think of it like vacuum massage. I could talk about toxins or creating an energy racetrack in your body, but I really don’t like getting all woo woo. You know when you’re getting a massage or somebody is rubbing your shoulders and they hit a crunchy spot? I am 1) not a massage therapist and 2) way too lazy to work that out on my own power. I don’t use the glass and fire in the office so much; usually it’s a silicone suction cup that I squoosh onto your skin so it sticks well. Instead of me pressing, the vacuum is pulling, and the knot unties.

You have to pull the skin pretty hard to work at the muscle underneath, so it tends to leave a mark. For professional athletes, therapists are going to need more force than I usually use. To work out the average crunchy shoulders, if you aren’t someone who bruises when somebody slaps you on the back, you might be a bit purple for a few hours. If you are very pale or your muscles are very tight, the marks might fade out over a week. Most people feel enough relief they don’t care about the marks. But the world knows what it is now, so you don’t have to be embarrassed. Maybe warn me if you’re going to be a bridesmaid tomorrow so I make sure it doesn’t turn too dark.

If you are getting acupuncture and mention that your back or shoulders are tight, I almost always start by cupping anyway, but if you just wanted to try it, ask me about it at your next appointment.

I always tell people with allergies to wash bedding in hot, at least twice a month, and give yourself and any bed sharers (partners, kids, pets, whoever went outside! My cat doesn’t, so he gets a pass.) a good rinse. This way you’re not sleeping with as much pollen. However, not everyone can rock the short hair don’t care as well as I do, so here’s some help.

How to sleep on wet hair, from
Some videos from

Of course, you don’t want to encourage mold, so put a towel over your pillow or encase it in a membrane barrier.

the test, with a flippant title. Take an hour and try it. If you don’t have an hour in the next week, it is definitely time to examine that.

Here’s something similar in list form.

I was raised with neither religion nor custom, so I don’t know what either of those actually mean. Lent and lunar new year for me feel like time for contemplation, renewal, and spring. I don’t have the time or stamina to totally Konmari my life, but I have floor and desk surfaces that consistently are a lot tidier than they were a couple years ago. I haven’t gotten my comprehensive wellness program on line, but I’m trying to post a little more than a few times a year. I have run a brush over the cat every day this calendar year, and he is more genki a neko than he has been in months. Do a little at a time, but do it!

You know when is a great time to start something new? How about now? I meant to do holiday greetings in a timely manner, and it’s a great marketing tool. But I don’t want to be like the gym, with a rush of good intentions for the first six weeks of the year.

There is an app for everything, you know. Let me share a couple of my favorites.

Resolution to eat healthier, lose weight, get in shape, blah blah blah? That’s fine, but you need to break it down to actionable items. Habitica turns it into a game. You enter your dailies into lists, and it gives you points for ticking off your tasks. Like maybe, exercise. Eat some vegetables. Drink some water. And you can create a story, get as much into it as you want, but the key is, your avatar loses health points every day you don’t finish your list, and if you slack on it too much, your character dies. On the other hand, you can level up, which gets you to full health points, and gives you rewards to use in your story.

Ingress is a game the paranoid will say is about tracking your movements for Big Brother, and yeah, it’s not awesome if you’re really into privacy. But get real; we are spewing personal deets all the time. And playing this game, it’s easy to walk for miles without hardly noticing. You get out of the house, you might make a bunch of new friends (when people aren’t texting, but they are loitering at places, looking around to orient themselves, and looking at their phones, chances are they’re Ingressing.), and it’s actually really fun to virtually tag your town’s locales.

If you didn’t stop celebrating in time for Dryuary, that’s okay. If you slipped on your resolution and had a piece of cake, I hope it was really good cake! Don’t worry, but don’t give up!

I take a class from a legal professional every so often to keep my license current and help me stay out of trouble. Like a code of ethics, it covers a ton of really ridiculous stuff that seems like it should be common sense. Why does it even have to be stated? Well, because it’s been an issue before for somebody somewhere.

I live and used to practice in a very neighborly community. Everybody knows everybody, or does eventually. If I don’t say hi and ask after your condition when you see me out and about, I promise I’m not a total jerk (although I’m kind of terrible with names and faces and what we worked on last time 2 weeks ago. That’s why you have a file.), but there are privacy laws in effect for your protection. They’re pretty strict, too. If Sting came in for acupuncture before a show, and TMZ called me, all I could say legally is, “I can neither confirm nor deny that Mr. Sumner was a patient at this clinic.” Unless I got his written permission. Knowing me, I will totally forget to obtain this or a selfie or a video testimonial if somebody famous has a great experience on my table.

“But I’m not famous, what’s up?” Well, if I’m treating you for erectile dysfunction or something embarrassing, you probably don’t want that to get out. And what’s the next thing that comes up after, “Oh, he’s getting acupuncture?” Maybe, “what for?” Right? The law doesn’t care what you’re seeing me about, even if it’s something as common as knee pain. I’m not allowed to talk about you as a patient unless you have given me permission.

It’s for patient protection. If you want to say wonderful things about our sessions, that is your right, and please do! However, awkwardly, when the person you referred to me says your name, I’m probably going to sound a little noncommittal. That’s just me trying to follow the rules.

If you call me about a patient who isn’t you, I need their authorization to so much as confirm they’re my patient. That might seem ridiculous to you, but I don’t know your relation. You might say you’re a brother and actually you’re a psycho ex against whom they’ve got a restraining order. Maybe their church thinks my methods are evil, even though my practice has no religious aspect. If you are curious about how I might help you, just ask. It’s about you, not about another patient. Or if you told your friend to call me, I’m not allowed to talk about their appointment.

On the same vein, when family members come together, if the patient doesn’t want to be accompanied to the treatment room, that is fine and totally normal. Whether the patient is experiencing abuse, is a child who actually doesn’t have all those symptoms and just wanted to get out of school, or just doesn’t want to talk about their bodily functions in front of you, it’s their right to want the session with me to be private. If they’re more comfortable, I get more honest answers to my questions and can treat them better.

So, there is your patient law/etiquette lesson of the day. And along the lines of following the law, even if I were single, I could lose my license for dating a patient, so just don’t go there.

MD. ND. Rx. Acupuncture. Chiropractic. PT. Herbs and supplements. Massage. Reiki. Homeopathy. Yoga. Reflexology. Counseling. Juicing. Meditation. Cleansing. Nutritional Healing. Spiritual Healing. There are LOTS of modalities out there that want your attention. There are lots of people who have a financial interest in you spending your money on one in particular. I’m one of those people; I’m not gonna lie. But here are some of my honest thoughts, and hopefully this will lead to more acceptance all around.

I am a licensed acupuncturist. I studied for many years, saw many patients as an intern, and passed many exams so the State of Texas and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine deemed me worthy of putting sterile pins in people and recommending herbs, supplements, exercises, and other things that may make a patient more relaxed, in less pain, and in better health. In the state of Texas, if not treating for chronic pain, weight loss, or quit smoking, one cannot practice acupuncture without the referral of a chiropractor or the patient having seen an MD within the last year for the condition being treated.  If there is no improvement within the shorter of 30 days or 20 treatments, the acupuncturist must refer to an MD, though whether or not to follow up on that referral is up to the patient.

An acupuncturist is not allowed to diagnose in Texas. We are limited to observations such as “the lower back hurts.” If you have an MRI saying you have disc prolapse or sciatica, that’s nice. We have provided relief to plenty of patients with various diagnoses. In a practical sense, I think it doesn’t make a difference. Patients usually want pain relief and more range of motion and general function. If it matters to you that your practitioner use a lot of big Latin words, you might limit yourself to modern medicine. If you’re not ready for surgery and have a problem with drugs, then reconcile it in your head or try another practitioner. We have studied medical terminology and basic reading of imaging. However, since I’m certified in an ancient technique, I tend to be treating for “this part hurts, especially when I go like that,” no matter what the technical diagnosis.

I work on a lot more than back pain, but I am not the end all be all for your health care. Skeptics and science purists point to alternative practitioners and say, “You killed Steve Jobs.” (Notably, his friend, famous MD and diet guru Dean Ornish told him early on that he needed surgery. This is not saying alternative therapies are worthless; it’s saying you do need to match your tools to your projects.) My malpractice insurance asks if I treat cancer, and I certainly do not. I do not represent myself as treating cancer. I do get referrals from an oncologist, because neither the disease nor the treatment are comfortable.

I am pleased when patients recognize that they need something more. I’m really pleased when practitioners recognize the patient might need something more, and I’m disappointed when they don’t. I once saw a young woman about IBS, and between several medical doctors, nobody had ever thought to ask her if she had a gynecologist! Now, what else lives in the abdominal cavity aside from the digestive tract that can make one feel pain, cramps, and bloating?

It’s not just modern medicine, though. There are lots of alternative practitioners who don’t believe in doctors…or don’t believe in giving up market share. I hate that I’m kind of a weirdo in my field because I think everybody should be insured (even if it usually doesn’t cover what I do), and almost everybody should be vaccinated. Yes, it’s awful that lots of people don’t take care of themselves. You know what? Cancer happens to the best of us. It’s a joke older than I am of joggers dropping dead of heart attacks while Keith Richards shoots heroin into his eyeballs. I might not have died left to my own devices, but when my appendix flared up, I was more than happy to go to the hospital and get it cut out.

So. When do you see what? You might need a doctor or another or several of the laundry list I opened with. Doctors, I don’t want to see people who are against you if they need you, but I think everyone has been not-sick-enough-for-diagnosis at some point. See someone who is great at what they do but realize it’s not everything. I get adjusted, needled, and massaged, do moxibustion, and I take supplements, but I still go to the doctor and get lab work every year. It’s a free benefit now. I always tell my patients if it’s covered, why not go get more information. If they have an obviously asymmetrical gait or posture, I tell them they might look into chiropractic. Of course, I think I can help with a lot of things. The typical patient I see either feels their condition is not serious enough for the next medical (or surgical) therapy or they are unsatisfied with their current progress. I must stress that this article is not me telling you to go see somebody else about what is bothering you! But I do feel like it’s a strength of mine that I know that I am not the only thing that can help you and am willing to share. Your improvement will always be more important to me than my ego or my check.


Who could deny that salads are good for you? How could raw vegetables be a bad thing? Particularly when not overwhelmed by a mucus-forming, creamy, high-calorie dressing?

I say that different people need to exercise different degrees of moderation in all things. More raw food is probably great for someone with heat imbalance. Someone who needs the cooling influence of raw food may have a short fuse, a red face, tendency towards heartburn, and/or excessive body heat. Raw plant matter requires extra effort in digestion to liberate the nutrients from inside the cell wall. When a body has plenty of vigor and stored fuel, this can be a good thing for weight reduction.

When someone is drained, pale, tends to feel cold, is prone to indigestion–but not the sharp heat of heartburn, more like a prolonged dull pain of bloating–then a daily salad could be the worst thing for them. When digestion is weakened, so is the body. When the body is already weakened, it is not a good idea to make it work harder for its nutrition. If you’re overweight and wonder why eating salad all the time made you feel terrible, that’s why. It probably is not right for your body type.

I’m not saying meat and starch is the answer, either. Eating lots of vegetables is generally a good thing. But maybe, instead of mixing them in a salad bowl straight out of the fridge, you can toss ’em in a wok for just a minute or so, to get a little wilt and color bloom. They don’t have to be mushy, just not stone cold and raw. I’ve never cooked lettuce, but kale, cabbage, chard, spinach? Sure.

A patient recently told me, “Hey, remember how you told me to not eat raw food? I didn’t for a while, and it was good. But then I did last week, because that’s what I eat in the morning, and the symptoms were worse.” I get it, habits can be tough to make and break, and raw food is pretty easy! But do listen to your body. If it isn’t happy, try a change for a couple of weeks and see what happens. We are all works in progress.

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