10 years of Community Acupuncture, and still going strong!

This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Milwaukee Community Acupuncture! It has been an honor and privilege to serve the community ever since. Continuing to make lasting partnerships with patients and providers in the area is why we started the clinic 10 years ago.

To mark this momentous occasion we are having a 10th anniversary fundraiser party the evening of Saturday, October 12th. Tickets for the event can be purchased at MCA or online at milwaukeecommunityacupuncture.org/10yearparty. There will be food, music from local musician Lisa Gatewood and a silent auction filled with loads of goodies from other local businesses!

I sat down with the founders of Milwaukee Community Acupuncture, Amy Severinsen and Olive Crane, to reflect. 

After 10 years, what are you most proud of?
Amy: I’m so proud of so many aspects of the clinic, but I would have to say our growth! I knew a Community Acupuncture (CA) clinic would thrive in Bay View, but I had no idea we would expand to six full-time acupuncturists and being open seven days a week. Our community has really embraced us, but that’s also thanks to our amazing staff, of which I am also very proud. See what I did there? I snuck another one in. ;)
Olive: When we first opened our primary goals were to create a clinic that was accessible & affordable and create jobs for ourselves that we enjoy. After 10 years I’m very proud to look back and feel like we have achieved all of these goals! We’ve been able to steadily grow, expand our hours and hire amazing acupuncturists, all while keeping our sliding scale low. I feel so grateful that I have a job that I love. Sometimes I get asked if I get bored doing the same thing over and over and I don’t! I love working with a diverse clientele and meeting new people all the time and I find that developing treatments is a great creative outlet for me.  

So, 10 years ago...that would have been during the recession? How did that affect your business? 
We were so lucky that our business model focuses on making our service affordable. Being high volume, we are able to see more patients per hour, and therefore charge less per treatment, which allows patients to afford to come back regularly. If we were charging market rates for private room acupuncture I don’t believe our business would have thrived, much less survived the recession.
Olive: We might be a business that people turn to in a recession for many reasons. The primary reason would be our low cost, but recessions are also very stressful for many people. Acupuncture is great at managing stress and all of the other health imbalances that stress leads to. 

What is your favorite part about owning a community centered business? 
My favorite part is knowing that we are doing something that truly fosters a healthy community. By easing pain, reducing anxiety and depression, and balancing hormones we are able to create healthier community members that are able to function better in their day to day lives.
Olive: I love being a resource that people can turn to when they need it. We have a lot of patients that have been with us for years, some steadily and some here and there whenever something pops up for them. It’s great to know that we are often one of the first places our patients think of when a new health condition arises, stress gets unmanageable or life just feels a little out of balance. 

Where do you see MCA in 20 years? 
Our biggest complaint from our patients has always been that we need another location. Or three. Haha. While I can assure you that nothing like that is currently in the works, I will say that I’d like to make that happen eventually.
Olive: Good question! I definitely see ourselves still here and possibly with another location depending on how it all shakes out. 

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to thank our patients for supporting us and spreading the word. Most of our new patients come in because they have heard of us from a family member, friend or colleague, or because they read positive online reviews that our patients have left. It means so much to us that our patients continue to refer people our way and we wouldn’t be where we are today without their support.

Acupuncture for Depression and Heart break

People ask all the time, “Can acupuncture heal a broken heart and help depression?” Simple answer, yes. For most people acupuncture can be a major relief from the all encompassing feelings of loss and depression that accompany heart ache.

Journalist Megan Wood wondered the same thing. She asked MCA acupuncturist Megan Bielinski to explain how this is possible.

Below is article that appeared on Swipe LIfe in December 2018, titled “Acupuncture Cured my Broken Heart”

“Acupuncture Cured My Broken Heart”
Megan L. Wood
December 21, 2018

It’s said that time heals all wounds, but that’s not entirely true when it comes to matters of the heart. In my case, needles cured my wounds. To make a long story short, I spent two years hanging on to one of those excruciatingly messy on-again, off-again relationships. About a year after our final breakup, I still felt stuck.

I was dating new people and enjoying my life. So why was I tearing up in unexpected places? On the J train to Bushwick I’d be overtaken by a wave of sadness and muffled tears. A breezy phone call with a friend could leave me feeling blue for hours. The more I tried to think and rationalize my way to getting over the breakup, the sadder I felt. And to top it off, I was frustrated for still feeling these uncomfortable feelings. Shouldn’t I be over it by now?

I was scared I’d done permanent damage to my brain and heart over my ex — that all of the prolonged and unnecessary hurt had become either 1.) a bad habit I couldn’t shake or 2.) a chemical imbalance. After another unexpected crying spell while on a perfectly pleasant bike ride, I decided I might need antidepressants to help me get out from under the pain.

I wasn’t completely sure antidepressants were the answer for me, but as a first step, I logged onto my insurance company’s website to search for a physician who I could talk to. As I scrolled through the options, something entirely different caught my eye: a Chinese medical doctor who also performed acupuncture. I’d read that acupuncture could work miracles on everything from fertility issues to shoulder pain. I wondered, could it also be the cure for a broken heart? I figured I’d give needles a try before committing to serotonin in a pill. All I had to lose was the $15 copay.

So how does acupuncture work? Megan Bielinski, a nationally certified acupuncturist in Milwaukee, explains, “[It] is still a mystery to the modern world, but in a nutshell, acupuncture affects the nervous system. Research shows that people treated with acupuncture have increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. The acupuncture meridians are essentially energy highways. Unblocking stuck energy allows the body and mind to clear the clutter and function better.”

But what about the *feels faint* needles? Joyce Lilly, a doctor of acupuncture, says, “Acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles at the doctor’s office. I can fit 30 acupuncture needles in the hole of a vaccination needle. They’re the diameter of human hair, but they’re made of stainless steel. I flick them into the body, and it doesn’t hurt.”

I scheduled an appointment. A week later, in a tiny Chinatown clinic, it was time to find out firsthand if acupuncture heals the heart. The waiting room held a mix of ages and races, and there were signs in Mandarin and English advising guests not to slam the front door. I was nervous about the impending needles, but hopeful. After a few minutes, the middle-aged doctor called me into a closet-sized treatment room. Fully dressed, I sat on a paper-covered massage table and explained my angsty story to him. I told him I was still devastated from a breakup that happened almost a year prior, that I was desperate for some relief, and that I was scared I’d never feel like myself again. He kindly asked a few questions about my diet, exercise, and sleeping habits — which were all pretty normal. I just felt achingly sad and teary while I did Pilates and walked to dinner with friends. He took some notes and asked me to lie down. He proceeded to roll up my jean cuffs and gently flicked tiny needles on stress meridians in my ankles, wrists, hands, and scalp. “Breathe normally,” he instructed as he turned out the lights and closed the door behind him.

I was desperate for some relief, and that I was scared I’d never feel like myself again.

I spent the next 20 minutes trying not to feel anxious about the needles and staring at the beige drop ceiling. This isn’t working, I thought. The doctor re-entered the room, removed a few of the needles, and repeated, “Keep breathing.” When the door closed behind him for the second time, I took a deep breath. Incredibly, I felt a full release that started from my scalp and traveled down to my toes. I thought I’d been crying for the last year, but that was nothing compared to the tidal wave of deeply rooted tears that came on the acupuncture table. I swear, the needles hit a wall of blocked energy that simply needed to be released. After the first session, I could think about my past relationship without feeling emotional. After the second session, I went a full week without crying. After the third session, I cried tears of relief that I wasn’t sad anymore.

Were my results normal? Iris Netzer-Greenfield of New York’s Acupuncture Remedies thinks so. “Acupuncture can heal all kinds of emotional distress. Some people hold on to emotions and anxiety more than others. Acupuncture releases stagnation so pain can subside.”

Bielinski agrees. “Acupuncture is meant to help the body heal itself,” she says. “When there is an imbalance in the system, acupuncture can be used to help the body navigate temporary ‘speed bumps.’ Results vary. Some people notice a change after their first treatment, and for others it can take three to four treatments to feel a change.”

While I recognize that acupuncture might not work for everyone and certainly won’t always be a viable alternative to antidepressants, it did work for me. I’m happy to report that it’s been well over a year since my last acupuncture session. Now when I do occasionally think about my ex, it’s with a very healthy feeling of being glad it’s over and that I’m in a much better place without him. As Ariana Grandewould say, “Thank U, Next.”

If you are experiencing mental illness and are in need of support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Vitamin D: the sunshine vitamin

With the winter solstice upon us, and snowbirds retreating to warmer climates, Vitamin D is having its moment in the sun.

It is estimated that 50% of adults are deficient in Vitamin D, especially those who live in northern climates. On December 21 we experience the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, when the Earth’s axis tilts the Northern Hemisphere farthest from the warmth of the sun. After the winter solstice, we gain a minute of sunlight every day until the slow crescendo six months later to the summer solstice on June 21, aka the longest day of the year. This year the winter solstice is particularly special, it is full moon, named the Cold Moon, and will be visible at the same time as the Ursid meteor shower.

Recent research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency can be the culprit for a lot of ‘modern day diseases’, such as depression, anxiety, poor sleep, digestion issues, bone health, cancer, and heart disease to mention a few. This correlation does not mean low vitamin D causes these conditions, or that taking a vitamin D supplement will adequately prevent or treat them.

People who have darker pigmented skin, those of African or Middle Eastern descent, are at greater risk of deficiency as are those who use sunscreen regularly and the elderly.

Studies suggest that 95% of the elderly may be deficient in vitamin D, not only because they spend less time outdoors but also their bodies produce less vitamin D when exposed to the sun (people over the age of 70 produce about 30% less vitamin D than a younger person with the same sun exposure). Vitamin D also might be important as we get older to prevent cognitive decline such as alzheimers and dementia.

Vitamin D is important because it helps your body sustain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus. Because it works as a key that allows your body to absorb calcium, vitamin D plays a critical role in forming and maintaining healthy bones. It also helps keep your muscles, nerves and immune system healthy.

Because vitamin D is a hormone that your body makes from sunlight, it is hard to supplement with food alone. Very few foods actually contain therapeutic levels of vitamin D naturally and  fortified foods don’t contain enough vitamin D to meet your health needs. Vitamin D is found in foods such as egg yolks, cheese, cod liver oil, beef liver and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. But the amount of vitamin D in these foods is quite small. In the U.S., many people get the bulk of their dietary vitamin D from foods that are fortified with it, including milk, cereals and some yogurts and orange juice.

Vitamin D is also a fat soluble vitamin, meaning those who are overweight and obese have lower circulating levels of vitamin D and would need to supplement at a higher dose than thinner people or people with more muscle mass and less fat stores. Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with both developing obesity and the risk of obesity related complications, but studies on the effects of vitamin D supplementation have been inconclusive.

To establish whether restoration of optimal vitamin D status would promote weight loss and improve the metabolic profile of obese or overweight patients with a vitamin D deficiency, Luisella Vigna, MD, of the University of Milan, Italy, analyzed data from 400 obese or overweight patients from 2011 to 2013.

All participants received a balanced moderately low calorie diet and were assigned to one of three groups: 1) no supplementation 2) vitamin D supplementation using cholecalciferol 25,000 international units (UI) per month 3) vitamin D supplementation using cholecalciferol 100,000 UI per month, about 3500 IU daily.

Optimal vitamin D levels found in the blood are 50-70 ng/ml. New research suggests better health benefit when you are on the high end of that range. Recommendations for how much daily vitamin D adults need through diet have changed over the years. Currently, different recommendations exist. The Institute of Medicine has placed the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for vitamin D at 600 international units (IU) per day for young adults and 800 IU per day for adults older than 70. Other experts suggest that adults’ vitamin D needs are much higher. For example, the Endocrine Society recommends up to 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily for adults.

Mayo Clinic recommends that adults get at least the RDA of 600 IU. However, 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day- more if you get little or no sun exposure- is generally safe and should help people achieve an adequate blood level of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been found to reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections, including cold and flu.

The Institute of Medicine says that adults shouldn't take more than 4,000 IU a day. While there are no guidelines for checking your vitamin D blood level, it may be prudent in people with osteoporosis or certain other health conditions. Discuss with your health care provider if it may be beneficial to check your vitamin D level.

How does Acupuncture relieve pain?

It’s starting to get warmer. The urge to get outside at every opportunity grows and grows. Bike rides, running, gardening, all great ways to get outdoors and move! But. Something is stopping you. Your old bum knee is acting up, or you can’t bend over to garden like you used to, or your asthma and allergies prevent you from running because it interferes with your breathing.

Have no fear, acupuncture is here!

We know that acupuncture has many benefits; acupuncture decreases inflammation, increases circulation, increases blood flow to the muscles, helps the body to release its own natural opioid pain relievers and stimulate the release of endorphins, to name a few.

Your body, like your car, needs a tune up every now and again. Instead of just running the motor into the ground, why don’t you lube up those joints and make sure this model keeps running smooth for a long time.

Countless research all suggest the same thing- acupuncture has many effects on the functioning of the body, but it is particularly good at relieving pain.

Acupuncture helps to decrease the body’s perception of pain and modulate the nervous system response. Does it ever seem like your pain gets worse day after day? It is, this is how your body tries to correct pain or dysfunction, albeit unsuccessfully. This phenomenon is called a positive feedback loop.

The positive feedback loop is a system your body uses to alert the brain to address pain or dysfunction by increasing the stimulus. After the body has ‘patched the pothole’ the feedback loop ceases. If the body is unable to fix the pain on its own, this continual increasing of the pain signal can become very intense and can create almost a ‘shortage’ in the nervous system; heightening the bodies response to emergency level.

When we are in pain our sympathetic nervous system, the system in charge of keeping us alive while running away from a bear (think increased respiration, pupil dilation) is working overtime. Studies show that acupuncture is effective at helping the body to self regulate and effectively switch from running in emergency mode (sympathetic nervous system) to ‘energy saving mode’ (parasympathtic nervous system). Helping the body to get over this ‘speed bump’ increases its innate ability to heal naturally.

For most people, regular acupuncture treatments can reduce chronic pain dramatically. Like any kind of medical intervention, 100% success is never guaranteed, but it is important to note that acupuncture success rates reported in studies are usually at or above 50% which is considered very high for any study.

If you’re curious how acupuncture can help you, contact us at info@milwaukeecommunityacupuncture.org! We’re happy to answer any questions.

Allergy relief with acupuncture

Spring has finally sprung, and for a lot of people that jubilation comes with some hesitation: allergies are back. Some new staggering statistics might make jaws drop, and not because you can’t breathe through your nose.

A new study shows the incidence of asthma and allergies are becoming more common. Researchers are attributing this rise to the  increasing pollen due to global warming and climate change rather than genetics. The pollen count is estimated to double by 2040; only 22 years from now.

“Average pollen counts in the United States are likely to reach 21,735 grains per cubic meter of air (or per 35 cubic feet of air) by 2040. In comparison, average pollen counts in the year 2000 hovered around 8,455 grains per cubic meter of air.”

Already ragweed pollen has become more common in the Midwest over the last 25 years. Due to warmer weather, plants are blooming 0.8 days earlier per year.

Whether it be spring, fall or indoor allergies, it is important to employ an allergy prevention strategy early. Seasoned allergy sufferers know the importance of building up their bodies defenses, typically that includes daily allergy medication, but it could also include acupuncture.

The sneezing, constant congestion, post nasal drip, sinus pressure and pain, or itchy watery eyes can really put a damper on life, . Researchers confirm that acupuncture successfully downregulates IgE (immunoglobulin E), an antibody active in hypersensitivity reactions, while simultaneously reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology concluded that, “acupuncture alleviates persistent allergic rhinitis. Important subjective and objective measures support the conclusion. Allergy symptoms and overall quality of life scores significantly improved as a result of acupuncture therapy. Moreover, symptoms and quality of life scores continued to improve, measured four weeks after completion of acupuncture treatments."

For many allergy sufferers the ‘season’ can start before the final snow has even melted and linger long into spring, depending on what you’re allergic to. Using acupuncture as a preventive before a particular bloom can help to lessen the symptoms and even in some cases prevent them from returning at such a severe level.

In Chinese Medicine the season of spring is associated with the Liver, and the Liver is associated with wind. The windy nature of spring and the abrupt change of the seasons seemingly overnight, is very typical of the flippant nature of the Liver. Happy and flexible one day, and surly and rigid the next. Staying out of excessive wind during spring can help to prevent your allergies by limiting exposure to the allergens flying through the air, while also preventing the wind of the outdoors from stirring the Liver wind internally.

Regardless of when you seek treatment for your allergies with acupuncture, it can be highly effective throughout the entire allergy season. Most patients find that one or two treatments a week regularly spaced for a few weeks is enough to help them successfully conquer their allergies for months.

To find out if acupuncture would helpful for your allergies, make an appointment today! Your nose will thank you later.

Acupuncture for Kids

It is a common misconception that acupuncture can only be utilized for adults. Just as children are mini adults, acupuncture and acupressure are safe, drug free and effective way to positively influence your health. For centuries acupuncture has been helping children boost their immune system, help them sleep, and improve digestion, just to name a few.

For many children (and also many adults) the thought of “needles” can be enough to elicit panic and fear. The best way to combat fear is knowledge. Most “needles” that people are familiar with are hollow bore needles used to give shots, while acupuncture needles are solid needles and thinner than a piece of hair. It is estimated that you can fit 15-20 acupuncture needles inside of a hollow bore needle.

Originally Acupuncture was developed as a general medicine as a way to put the body back into balance through the use of small fine pins, or needles as they are more commonly called. Initially the mechanism behind the how and why acupuncture worked was unknown. Generations of Chinese Medicine doctors would treat patients based on knowledge passed through families of doctors. Those doctors would record their findings and new treatments would evolve over time.

Today we have modern medicine and many scientific studies to tell us exactly how acupuncture works. There are many ways in which a small acupuncture needle can positively affect the body, but mainly acupuncture works to affect the nervous system and the brain. Our central computers, aka our brains, are wired through the nervous system, and if that wiring somehow misfires, bodily functions down the line can feel the effects. Recent research has shown that where the nervous system is found most superficially along the inner wrist correlates almost exactly with the location of acupuncture points. Coincidence? Most likely not.

At Milwaukee Community Acupuncture we welcome kid patients, as long as they are the right candidate and are able to speak in a quiet voice and rest for 10-20 minutes. It is recommended that before coming in for treatment you have an honest conversation with your child about what to expect. For most kids, treatments will include around 1-10 needles placed in the arms below the elbows, and legs below the knee. They will be asked to sit quietly with the needles in for around 20 minutes. The needles feel like a tiny pinch upon initial insertion, seconds later that sensation dies completely. For kids who don’t want to try needles we can use acupressure tools to stimulate the acupuncture points and channels, these tools are called sho ni shin.

Parents are encouraged to sit with their child for their first visit. At subsequent visits parents are welcome to come for an appointment with their child; we ask that the child be able to sit quietly in the treatment room until your acupuncture session is over, typically 40-45 minutes. Many families come and get acupuncture together, it is a great way to bond and do something good for yourself at the same time.

Acupuncture is a painless and safe way to improve the health of your entire family. We hope to see you and your kiddos in the clinic soon!


Community acupuncture, affordable healthcare for everyone

*This is a reprint of an article, written by our own Megan Bielinski, that originally appeared in the May edition of the Bayview Compass.

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical traditions, yet many Americans are unfamiliar with this method of healthcare. Even among those who have experienced acupuncture, many see it as an expensive niche therapy. This is unfortunate because acupuncture has always been intended to treat everyday ailments. Thankfully, many American acupuncturists are challenging these preconceptions by making acupuncture more affordable and accessible by embracing the community acupuncture model.

The concept and practice of community acupuncture originated in China, as practitioners sought to treat as many patients as possible in crowded hospitals. As more American practitioners of Traditional Oriental Medicine started going to China to do clinical rotations, this model of practice started to answer the broader question: how can we bring acupuncture to the masses in America in a format that maximizes acupuncture’s effectiveness?

The history of community acupuncture in America started in Portland in 2002, when Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter opened Window of the Sky (now named Working Class Acupuncture). They saw that acupuncture was unaffordable for some people, even though it is one of the safest and least expensive treatment modalities for many common ailments like pain and mental health. It was important to Rohleder and Van Meter to provide an affordable option at a time when rising healthcare costs and pre-existing condition limitations were preventing many from receiving the treatment they needed. At the same time, they wanted to help fellow acupuncturists earn a living wage through a sustainable business model.

Acupuncture is a cumulative medical modality. This means that treatments are most effective when you utilize them often (weekly or biweekly), committing to multiple treatments. Much like going to the gym, you need repetition with acupuncture treatment. You can’t expect to see results if you only go once. But unlike a gym, where a flat membership fee encourages frequent exercise, most acupuncturists are forced to charge high hourly rates that prevent many patients from incorporating acupuncture into their regular health routine. It’s not that these acupuncturists are greedy, but rather that the business of acupuncture has been shoehorned into the inefficient Western medical model.

This is where community acupuncture comes in. Instead of a single acupuncturist seeing a few patients a day, community acupuncture clinics are staffed with multiple acupuncturists who can each treat six to eight patients an hour. To accommodate the higher patient volume, community acupuncture is typically performed in a large open room filled with many comfy recliners, rather than on massage tables in private rooms.

At Milwaukee Community Acupuncture in Bay View, we may see upwards of 75 people over the course of a full day. The reduced overhead costs of room rental and time a patient spends resting with the needles maximize patient volume, thus driving down costs, making acupuncture affordable and accessible for everyone. Treatments are designed to be efficient and are thus able to be offered on a sliding scale of $15-40, without any proof of income.

In a typical community acupuncture treatment, patients come into the community space, take off their shoes and socks, push up their sleeves and pant legs and wait for the acupuncturist on staff to perform a short intake. After a diagnostic assessment of the pulses, patients are pushed back into recliner-chair heaven and allowed to relax with acupuncture needles for about 40 minutes, next to their neighbors who are likewise relaxing in their recliners. Although this style of acupuncture focuses on acupuncture on the arms, legs head and neck, it excels at treating everything from low back pain to migraines.

Community acupuncture’s affordability and social entrepreneurship were highlighted by Rohleder in 2006 when she published The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare. By the end of that year, there were 11 clinics in the United States. practicing community acupuncture. Today, there are over 200 member clinics of People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA).

You can join the revolution of community acupuncture and become a sustaining member of the POCA co-op at pocacoop.com.

Depression and Anxiety around the Holidays

Holiday stress got you down? Acupuncture may be just what the doctor ordered

While the holidays are a time of year some people look forward to all year long, for others it can be a very difficult time. Thinking of lost loved ones, worrying about money, working overtime and keeping up with the holiday party circuit can take its toll.

It can be hard to slow down and remember to take care of yourself, but according to Chinese Medicine, winter is a time to retreat and reflect. The yin of winter is meant to balance the yang of summer. Staying home, reading a book and eating soup helps to recharge the batteries after a summer of late nights, BBQ’s and going to the beach.

Whether feelings of anxiety and depression are mild or have been with you for years, acupuncture is a gentle and effective way to alleviate those feelings and balance the mood. During a lifetime, it is estimated that 20% of the population will experience depression. Symptoms of depression during the holiday season can include lack of interest, cynicism or anger, isolation from events and traditional festivities, and over consuming holiday food and alcohol.

Sadness around the holidays can also be compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the lack of daylight. Studies have shown that people living in a northern climates are deficient in vitamin D because of the limited hours of sunlight this far north of the equator. Supplementing with vitamin D during the winter months can have a mood elevating effect. Recommended daily dose for adults can be up to 4,000 IU per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. Those who are deficient in vitamin D can take higher doses than that, but it is recommended to do so under the supervision of a doctor.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help to alleviate sadness and depression by addressing different imbalances in the body and subtle shifts in the energetics associated with different identified Chinese Medicine organs. For instance depression is usually associated with deficiency or imbalance of the lung and liver, but that’s not to say there is something physically wrong with either of those organs from a Western Medical perspective. Acupuncture simply circulates the energy, or qi of the body, to help unblock the free flow of the channels and restore proper function and feeling in the body- whether physical or emotional.

The lung controls sadness and grief, too much of it or unexpressed grief is when the organ can become unbalanced. It is in charge of taking in the new and letting go of the old, just as it functions to take in oxygen and let go of carbon dioxide. Breath exercises and meditation can all have a calming effect on the mind. Meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly for five minutes and listening and paying attention to nothing but your breathing. In. And out.

The liver’s emotion, on the other end of the spectrum is anger. Again, too much anger or unexpressed anger can be problematic. The liver is responsible for circulating the qi and blood, and is considered the “general” of the body, always trying to take command and tell others what to do. While having a leader is good, micromanaging is not. If the liver isn’t circulating enough, the qi can become stagnant and lead to that emotional ‘lump’ in your throat. If the liver is overactive, it will “over heat” and can produce symptoms of anxiety. Physical activity and exercise is a great way to stimulate the liver. As is yelling at the TV while watching a Packer game.

Whatever you choose to do, know that we are here to help. Regardless of where that journey may take you.

Happy Holidays from Milwaukee Community Acupuncture to you and your family. May we all enjoy peace on earth and peace of mind.


House plants: the original air freshener

During the warm months of the year getting a whiff of fresh air is the ultimate indulgence. A fresh breeze of flowers or recently cut grass evoke memories and revive our senses, giving us a shot of energy that only fresh air can provide. As the season’s change we can bring our favorite plants inside to improve our indoor environment and help to lessen the toxic load imposed on us by our modern lifestyles.

Historically fresh air was thought to have medicinal properties. It was essential when airing out sickness, helping to revive those weakened by illness like scarlet fever and measles. The outdoors can smell different based on your locale, and it is all thanks to the most natural and efficient air freshener there is: plants.

Plant leaves produce negative ions in abundance, while electronics, florescent lights and man-made products like carpet, plastics and metal emit positive ions. Contrary to their label, positively charged ions do not have a positive effect on the human body. Research has shown an excess of positive ions is associated with an increase in allergies, infections, fatigue, depression, anxiety and more. Inversely, negatively charged ions produced outside- with the largest concentration coming from moving water and soil, have a positive effect. They have been shown to elevate our mood by increasing serotonin levels, stabilize blood pressure, increase the body’s alkalinity, strengthen bones, heighten immunity, accelerate physical recovery, and purify and clean the air.

For most of us, our day to day routines exist mostly indoors. We work indoors, we sleep indoors- albeit sometimes with the windows open. We rarely have occasion to spend long extended periods absorbing those precious negative ions. The next best thing: bring the plants inside.

NASA was interested in the best ways to clean the air in their space stations, so they did a study- the Clean Air Study, on this very topic of reducing indoor air pollutants and toxins. They found that 18 house plants were effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia from the air, chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects. Their research suggests that having at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space is ideal.

Here is a list of 8 hardy house plants compiled from and inspired by NASA’s research.

1.       Spider Plant- one of the easiest houseplants to grow it loves bright, indirect sunlight. Spider plants propagate themselves easily as well, sending out shoots with ‘babies’ on the end, making it easy to spread the love and share with friends and family.

2.       Dracaena- available in more than 40 different varietals, it is easy to find one that fits your space’s light needs. Might not be a good option at home for pet lovers as the plant is toxic to dogs and cats when eaten.

3.       Ficus/Weeping Fig- can grow to be 10 feet tall and loves bright, indirect sunlight. Careful to not water too much, let the soil dry out before watering again.

4.       Peace Lily- grows best in a shady area and blooms fragrant white flowers throughout its lifecycle. Easy to grow and care for, avoid overwatering and cut off flowers at the base once they turn green.

5.       Boston Fern- these plants prefer high humidity and indirect sunlight. Check the soil daily to see if it needs water, and give it a good soak once a month.

6.       Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue- one of the hardest houseplants to kill, it requires only occasional watering and generally prefers drier conditions and some sun.

7.       Bamboo Palm- named for its likeness to bamboo this plant thrives in full sun or bright light and can grow to be 12 feet high.

8.       Aloe Vera- this plant does best well in drained soil, to avoid rot, and is best in a spot where it will receive lots of bright, direct sunlight, although it may adapt to some shade. In addition to being easy to care for, the leaves contain aloe, a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


Benefits of Magnesium: Part Deux

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Benefits of Magnesium Part 1 where we explained the importance of sufficient levels of magnesium in the body and how it affects your health and well-being. In part two we will be diving a little deeper into specific symptoms that can be helped by magnesium and some signs that could point to a magnesium deficiency as well as signs of too much magnesium.

To recap: Magnesium is involved in energy production, detoxification and protein synthesis. It keeps your heart beating regularly and your muscles and nervous system working properly. It supports a healthy immune system, regulates blood sugar levels and helps to maintain strong bones and healthy teeth by aiding calcium absorption.

In the past magnesium was primarily thought of as a mineral for the heart and bones, but new research proves that might be misleading. A new study published in the journal BMC Bioinformatics titled, “3,751 magnesium binding sites have been detected on human proteins,” suggests that magnesium, and particularly magnesium deficiency, may have a much greater effect on biological structures in the body and affect a wider range of bodily systems than previously understood.[i].

Recent research shows only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of magnesium: 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men[ii]. Some estimate that our modern diets provide less than 250 mg of elemental magnesium daily.

Dr. Carolyn Dean MD, ND, has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. Inside one of her most recent books, published in 2014, The Magnesium Miracle, she lists 22 medical areas that research has proven are triggered by or caused by magnesium deficiency. They include[iii]:

Anxiety and panic attacks          Insomnia

Asthma                                         Kidney Disease

Blood clots                                   Liver Disease

Bowel diseases                             Migraine

Cystitis                                          Musculoskeletal (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain)

Depression                                    Nerve pain

Detoxification                               Obstetrics/gynecology (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia)

Diabetes                                        Osteoporosis

Fatigue                                           Reynaud’s

Heart Disease                                 Tooth decay

Hypertension                                  Hypoglycemia

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:

Numbness and tingling                           Abnormal Heart rhythms

Muscle contractions and cramps            Coronary spasms

Seizures                                                   Personality Changes

Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Peanut butter and avocados also contain magnesium. Juicing and blending your vegetables is an excellent way to ensure you're getting enough in your diet.

While it is generally recommended to get minerals and vitamins from foods, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, such as zinc and iron, so getting enough magnesium isn't only a matter of eating magnesium-rich foods. According to Dr. Dean:

"Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we're lucky to get 200 milligrams."

Herbicides like glyphosate, also known as Roundup Ready, act as chelators, effectively blocking the uptake and utilization of minerals. Glyphosate is banned for use in organic farming.  Unfortunately, cooking and processing further depletes magnesium, which can further complicate getting enough magnesium from the diet alone.

Additionally, certain foods can affect the body’s absorption of magnesium as well. Drinking alcohol in excess, for instance, it may interfere with your body's absorption of vitamin D, which in turn is helpful for magnesium absorption. Eating a lot of sugar can also cause your body to excrete magnesium through your kidneys, "resulting in a net loss," according to Dr. Danine Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. The following factors are also associated with lower magnesium levels:

Excessive intake of soda or caffeine


Old age (older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption)

Certain medications, including diuretics, certain antibiotics (such as gentamicin and tobramycin), corticosteroids (prednisone or Deltasone), antacids, and insulin

An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.)


Potential Magnesium Oil Side Effects

For certain people with existing conditions or sensitivities, they may experience magnesium oil side effects. For example, individuals with low blood pressure should use magnesium oil cautiously. Start with a small amount and short absorption time. Hypotension, aka low blood pressure, is affected easily by salt intake, change in diet and medication, as well as supplements, so it is important to be cautious.

If you are taking an anti-anxiety medication, magnesium supplements may overcorrect your hyperactive nervous system. If it seems like you are becoming too relaxed when combining magnesium and anti-anxiety medication, it’s best to eliminate the magnesium.

Individuals with sensitive skin should test a diluted form of magnesium oil on their skin before applying all over the body, simply add more water to the magnesium oil solution. The usual tingling sensation users experience when applying magnesium oil to the skin is normal. For those with sensitive skin this sensation could be heightened, it is recommend that magnesium oil be applied to wet skin, usually after a shower, to mitigate the stinging sensation.

Hypermagnesemia, an excess of magnesium, is rare. The kidneys work to get rid of excess magnesium that isn’t absorbed by the tissue or intracellularly. Overall, the risk of ever experiencing a magnesium overdose is extremely low for a typically healthy person. Still, for some with certain medical conditions, like impaired kidney function, it is important to discuss the risks of magnesium-containing medications and supplements with your doctor to help ensure your safety. Any prescription drug should be cross-checked to ensure there is not an adverse reaction when taken with magnesium.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, symptoms of excess magnesium levels include:

diarrhea                          nausea and vomiting

lethargy                          muscle weakness

irregular heartbeat         low blood pressure

urine retention                respiratory distress

cardiac arrest

An IV of calcium gluconate or dialysis can help to reverse the effects of excess magnesium.

Hopefully the information above has answered any questions you had about supplementing topically with magnesium. People who have started a regular magnesium supplementing regimen have seen positive health effects not only in their muscle, joint and Heart health, but also improved sleep and digestion to name a few. With any kind of supplementing, it is important to fully understand the benefits and potential hazards, even if rare. If you take a daily medication, it is recommended that you discuss with your primary doctor before you start supplementing with magnesium on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe you’ll even turn your doctor on to the amazing health benefits of the lost mineral Magnesium.










[i] Greenmedinfo.com December 5, 2012

[ii] CNN December 31, 2014

[iii] DrCarolynDean.com The Magnesium Miracle



The benefits of Magnesium and why it’s so important to supplement: Part 1

Let’s think of a time gone by, when grandma used to tell you to soak in Epsom salts if you had a sore back, knee, etc. Well, grandma was right. New research shows that mineral deficiency is a lot more important than we thought.

 So what is it about Epsom salts that makes it so important or effective for all kinds of aches and pains? One word: Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that can be found in the food that we eat, but in recent years has been found to have been largely stripped from the soil and thus not present in the amounts necessary to replenish inside the body.

 Magnesium is used in over 300 enzymatic processes throughout the body. The body keeps magnesium levels homestatic, meaning if the levels of magnesium are depleted in the blood stream it is replenished from the magnesium that is stored in the bones and muscles, thus leading to chronic aches, pains and stiff muscles. Magnesium plays a role in your body's detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. In addition, magnesium is necessary for:

  • Activating muscles and nerves

  • Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

  • Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats

  • Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis

  • Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin

 Magnesium deficiency is widespread and the use of magnesium oil can restore healthy magnesium levels in your body. Dr. Sircus, a leading magnesium researcher and author of Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, says,

“After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element needed by our bodies, vitally important yet hardly known. It is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium and regulates all three of them. Millions suffer daily from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it.” (Read more in his article on magnesium deficiency.)

 So why isn’t this something we are all tested for on a regular basis at our doctor’s offices? Blood tests are insufficient at detecting magnesium levels accurately, only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood, the rest is stored in the bones and muscles.

 Which brings me to another key point of magnesium supplementing, oral supplements of magnesium are inferior to topical supplementing. Most of the oral magnesium pills sold over the counter are magnesium citrate, which only about 20% is absorbed by the body and the rest is eliminated as waste. Magnesium can irritate the digestive tract (i.e. diarrhea) it is much more absorbable and available to the body when it is delivered topically in the form of Epsom salts or Magnesium oil spray.

Visit us again for the next installment of ‘The Benefits of Magnesium: Part Deux” where we will discuss how you can increase your magnesium intake in your diet, specific conditions that researchers are now attributing to magnesium deficiency and discuss further that the WHO estimates 75% of Americans have daily magnesium intakes less than the recommended daily intake (RDA).


How do I know if my acupuncture treatment is working?

So, how will you know if or when your acupuncture treatments are actually working? Good question; glad you asked. This is a question we hear in the treatment room quite often: “What should I expect to notice or pay attention to?”

For many people, acupuncture is a new experience, and as with most new experiences, it can be hard to know what to expect. The most important thing to know while receiving acupuncture treatments is that progress can be slow; but rest assured progress is happening.

Here is a list of just some of the things to expect while receiving acupuncture, whether intended or not.

1. Your pain will change

The key word here is change: change in location, severity, or intensity. That change is what we are looking to accomplish every time you come in for treatment. This gives your acupuncturist and you a way to record your progress and see when and if the treatments are accomplishing their goal. It isn’t uncommon for pain to be relieved for a few hours after your treatment, only to return. Continued treatments will make that pain-free window longer and longer. It also isn’t impossible to experience a “healing crisis” during acupuncture treatments, which is to say your pain got better progressively over time and now has either plateaued or gotten worse in the short term. Although it may not seem like it, these are all good signs! Any change in your symptoms at all are indications things are on the way to improvement.

2. Your sleep could improve (or change)

For most people, the night after your first acupuncture treatment could be the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a long time, and for others it could mean you didn’t get to sleep in as long as you wanted. Your body is on a biological clock and regulates itself based on a lot of different factors (artificial vs natural light, seasons, etc.). Sleeping better is one of the best “side effects” of acupuncture, but it’s not a guarantee for everyone.

3. Your mood will improve

Really? Yes, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine consider the mind and body to be one whole unit. It is very common to store emotional stress in muscles (think office worker with tight shoulders and a bad boss); relaxing the muscles allows our body to effectively process that stuck energy and eliminate it. People who get acupuncture for the first time often experience an “acu buzz” after their first treatment. Biologically, this is the brain releasing dopamine and serotonin.

4. You’ll be more aware of your body

Acupuncture is a whole-body tune up. Do you take your car in to get the oil changed every 3,000 miles? Well, you should treat your body the same. When you first start doing acupuncture you’ll notice bodily sensations more acutely, that is to say, you will be more aware of the little things you didn’t notice before and more clued in to how your body is functioning overall. Your senses will be keener and more awakened.

5. You’ll have more energy

Finally, but definitely not last, after beginning acupuncture treatment you can start to notice having more energy. Did you forget your morning coffee, but realize you didn’t really need it today? That is thanks in part to acupuncture’s ability to rev up the adrenal system, and overall help the bodily functions perform at their best. Just by poking a tiny needle into the top layer of the skin, acupuncture is able to jump-start the body’s energy to repair a little faster, go a little longer.

The human body is an amazing thing, and when given the proper tools (diet, exercise, etc.), it is able to function at its best. Acupuncture doesn’t change the way your body performs, it just helps to enhance the body’s many control systems that allow the body to heal itself naturally.


American College of Physicians: Acupuncture preferred treatment for low back pain over drugs

News came out last week in the updated clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians (ACP) that recommends acupuncture and other alternative therapies such as massage and yoga as the preferred therapy for low back pain over drugs.

In response to the opioid crisis happening in America currently, there has been a growing interest in alternative therapies doctors can recommend their patients for pain.  According ACP Clinical Guideline Committee member,  Amir Qaseem, there is moderate-quality evidence to suggest that chronic pain can be eased with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture and mindful stress reduction. Similar results were observed in lower-quality studies regarding Tai Chi, yoga, progressive relaxation, laser therapy and spinal manipulation.

The recommendation then goes on to say that if these fail to ease chronic pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be considered. This is a change from the ACP’s previous recommendation in 2007 for acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) as it has been deemed ineffective for acute pain due to new evidence. Clinicians should only consider opioids as a last resort if other therapies fail.

The editorial accompanying the new ACP guidelines is hopeful this will give physicians a new “menu of evidence-based non-pharmacologic treatments to offer their patients” and is hopeful insurance will begin paying for these therapies based on the official recommendation, but highlights a few problems with prioritizing alternative treatments: limited availability and affordability.


Community Acupuncture has been very successful in Asia, but is a relatively new model in the United States that is slowly gaining momentum. Instead of trying to fit acupuncture into a spa model that has become the norm, community acupuncture takes advantage of the time a patient spends resting with the needles in to maximize patient volume, thus driving down costs for all patients and making acupuncture affordable and accessible for everyone.

The history of community acupuncture started in Portland in 2002, when Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter opened Working Class Acupuncture (then Window of the Sky) based on the way acupuncture was practiced in many Asian hospitals: in a group setting so as to serve as many people as possible. They saw that acupuncture was unattainable for some people, even though it is one of the safest and least expensive treatment modalities for many common ailments like back pain and migraines, that if not severe, fell under the radar in a traditional doctor’s office. In 2006 Lisa published The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare, that discussed social entrepreneurship and affordable acupuncture. By the end of 2006, there were 11 clinic in the US practicing community acupuncture, today there are over 200 clinics nationwide providing community acupuncture.

Instead of a single acupuncturist seeing a couple of people an hour for a full 8 hour day, community acupuncture clinics are staffed with multiple acupuncturists, offering expanded hours, seeing anywhere from 6-8 patients an hour. Here at Milwaukee Community Acupuncture on a full day we typically see upwards of 75 people per day.

It is our pleasure to serve our community and help so many people attain their health and wellness goals. We are confident that as time progresses more and more doctors will feel confident and comfortable recommending acupuncture to their patients, and maybe even try it themselves.

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!! As we begin the celebration of 2017, the year of the Fire Rooster, here is a little history on arguable the most important holiday in China.  

Chinese New Year is not celebrated at the same time as New Year in the western world because it is tied to the lunar calendar. It usually falls between January 21 and February 20, this year celebrations start on January 27th and will last for around two weeks.

The festivities include fireworks, traditional dances, and general New Year revelry and decorations, especially in the color red. To prepare, it is common to do a full cleaning of the house; to sweep away the bad fortune and welcome the new. One of the most important traditions is to gather for a family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, especially with those from far away. Fish is normally served to ensure prosperity and in Northern China dumplings are traditional. On New Year’s Day children are given red envelopes with ‘lucky money’ for positive wishes throughout the New Year.

The Chinese zodiac runs on a 12 year cycle; this is the year of the Fire Rooster. There are 5 different types of Roosters: Wood Roosters, Earth Roosters, Gold Roosters and Water Roosters, all with different characteristics. The last year of the Fire Rooster was 1957. Fire Roosters are known for being trustworthy, punctual and responsible, especially at work. Overall Roosters are outspoken, honest, loyal, talkative, popular, charming, active and amusing.

Some famous Roosters include Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, J-Lo, Bob Marley, Britney Spears, Roger Federer, Prince Philip, and Serena Williams.

Gong Hey Fat Choy! Aka Happy New Year! Much joy and prosperity to you and yours.

Why Chinese Herbs

During your time at MCA your acupuncturist might have brought up adding Chinese Herbs to your treatments. Why? The simplest answer is, sometimes acupuncture isn’t the only or best way to address various health concerns.

Chinese herbs are the medicine that makes Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM as it is commonly referred to) a complete system of healthcare. It is the yin to the yang of acupuncture. There are thousands of traditional formulas of herbs, all of them based on a system of understanding that combines taste (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, & bland) and temperature (cold, warm, hot) of a plant material (leaves, twigs, bark, roots) to create a desired effect on the chemistry of the body. An easy analogy for Chinese herbs is food. We eat certain foods to have certain effects inside the body. For example, lemons are bitter and sour and create the pucker that helps to create saliva, while bone broths would be considered sweet and bland and help to repair tissue after illness. Chinese herbs are used to help the body to repair itself over time instead of masking the symptoms like an over the counter medication would.

Chinese herbs can be used to address a variety of symptoms and conditions. They are not recommended for everyone, especially those on certain medications like blood thinners, but in the right circumstance herbs can help improve conditions faster than acupuncture alone. At MCA we like to use acupuncture first and then add herbs as needed (or desired) on a patient by patient basis. All of our acupuncturists are board certified in Chinese Herbology, and during their training spent many hours studying Chinese herbs and formulas. All of the Chinese herbs at MCA are tested for safety and efficacy, and come as a pill similar to a supplement. We carry a wide array of formulas that address everything from constipation and menstrual issues to the common cold and sinus congestion. Chinese herbs range in price, and can cost anywhere from $10-15 for a two week supply.

So the next time you see your acupuncturist, ask how Chinese herbs could benefit you!

MCA Clinic Expansion Fundraiser

Milwaukee Community Acupuncture is pleased to announce that we will be expanding our treatment room area this summer! If you have been in on a busy evening or a Saturday lately, you have probably noticed that our room is filling up and chair options are limited. We recently had the opportunity to absorb another small room that is located right next to our small back room. Our plan is to bring down some of the walls in this area to make it more cohesive and offer a better flow throughout the treatment area. With more chairs in our space we will be able to continue to be flexible with time, letting each patient rest as long as they would like. We are also planning on adding an additional lift chair for patients who need a little assistance getting in and out of a recliner.

We plan on starting construction for this project this summer but don't worry, most of the work will take place around our regular hours so we don't anticipate much of an interruption to our schedule.

MCA is sustained by a high volume of low cost payments and we are hoping to raise a portion of the funds needed to complete our construction project and furnish our new area with the same idea, by our community! Please consider making a small (or large) tax deductible donation to help - we have several ways you can donate:

At the Reception desk
When you checkout consider adding an extra $1-5 that will go towards the project

On our Website
Our online store now has donation amounts between $5-$50.  http://milwaukeecommunityacupuncture.org/gift-cards
Donate your Stuff
If you have extra recliners in good working condition or small tables or end tables please consider donating them to make the new space more cozy.

Buy Raffle Tickets
We are organizing a raffle with great prizes, stay tuned!

Community Acupuncture for Grief and Bereavement

by Stef Cordes & Lisa Baird

The loss of a loved one is life-shattering, and affects us physically as well as emotionally. There’s a reason why we talk about being heartsick, or sick with grief. How we think and feel has a very real impact of our bodies.

Grief makes us more susceptible to common colds and flus. This may be because persistently elevated levels of stress hormones can reduce immunity, therefore decreasing our ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. If someone had a physical illness before the death, grief can worsen existing illness, and the majority of bereaved people can expect some kind of physical illness within half a year after the death of a loved one. Studies have shown that following the death of a spouse, people are more likely to report worse overall healthaggravated physical pain, and among the elderly in particular, the loss of a loved can leave a person more vulnerable to infection.

Grief is a healthy, normal and necessary process of letting go and it often takes much longer than one expects. We are not trained counsellors, and we don’t suggest that acupuncture can supplant the role of a good therapist. But we’ve seen how supportive community acupuncture can be for our patients through the slow, difficult and messy stages of grieving.

Acupuncture is a potent treatment for the shock and numbness often following a traumatic event like the death of a loved one. Acupuncture is also effective for insomnia, reduced appetite, compromised immunity and stress, all common symptoms of grief. Some of our patients have commented that it was a blessing to receive treatment in our group treatment room and be around other people in a quietly supportive space where they weren’t expected to talk. Other patients have noted that community acupuncture sessions give them a chance to go inwards and do some important nonverbal integration of their grief.

Mirror Neurons and the Benefits of Community Acupuncture

When I first started to consider practicing community acupuncture I did a lot of research on the model and sought out advice from many different community clinic acupuncturists or "punks" as we fondly refer to ourselves.  One thing, that I can't say I was surprised to note, was that most punks claim there is a heightened benefit from acupuncture treatments when their communal rooms are full due to the almost palpable group dynamic of healing. Recently Shasta Community Acupuncture has been filled to capacity three times and I surely did "geek out" about the joy and sense of deep relaxation on the faces of our patients as they walked out of the treatment room.  A few of them even exclaimed that it was the best treatment they ever had.

I am now a believer, but before I continue to rant and rave unspecifically I want to see if there are any scientific explanations for this occurrence of heightened treatment values in a group dynamic.  Albert Einstein once elaborated on his view of the interconnectivity of the universe: "A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Speculating that the heightened group healing environment was due to a collective healing vibration that resonated throughout the room, I looked to Quantum Mechanics for an explanation.  While I found much proof in QM of interconnectivity through electromagnetic waves across the universe, unfortunately anything mentioned with relation to healing was sourced from a more mystical standpoint and I know that will not please the skeptics, so I moved to Cognitive Neuroscience for an understanding of the Mirror Neuron.  This is a neuron that fires both when someone acts and when that person observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.  These neurons are believed to be important for learning and understanding language and new skills. They are also important in grasping the actions and intentions of others and can be accredited to the human capacity for empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  This is the same explanation for why we yawn when others yawn, smile when those around us smile and feel a heightened sense of belonging at a large electric event such as a rock concert.

In essence when someone comes to a community clinic for treatment, they become connected to the social nature of their humanness.  They are not only getting the personal benefits of rest, relaxation, increased blood flow and harmony from the acupuncture treatment, but a deeper confirmation neurologically which will increase the benefits manifold just from the awareness that those around them are doing the same.  When we heal together we are breaking this delusion of "separate" that Albert Einstein was talking about.  The reasons most people seek acupuncture treatment are for pain, depression/emotional issues, and various other forms of suffering. All of these symptoms serve to isolate us in one way or another.  While peacefully resting with strategically placed needles in our bodies alongside others doing the same, we acknowledge that we are all in this together, that we are not separate and ultimately when we are unified we can achieve and accomplish things far beyond what we could ever imagine on our own.

Written by Melissa at Shasta Community Acupuncture


The Chinese Heart

February is American heart month. From a Western medical perspective this means keeping our blood pressure under control and cholesterol low with the help of diet, exercise, and in some cases, medication. These are important since heart disease is very common in America. But what about the heart in Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine also acknowledges the importance of the physical heart. It is in charge of the blood and blood vessels and circulation to the entire body. The heart plays a major role in nourishing the organs and maintaining vitality. It is considered the emperor of the body. Hence, if it ceases to function, all other systems will fail.

This is not all the heart does in Chinese medicine. There are also mental, emotional, and spiritual components that are greatly ignored in Western Medicine. In February, we celebrate this aspect of our heart by celebrating Valentine’s Day. The heart is said to house the spirit, or shen. When it is weak or unhealthy it can not provide a proper home for theshen and may result in mental agitation, palpitations, insomnia, or anxiety.

The spirit is said to manifest in the face and illuminate the eyes. A person with a healthy heart should have rosy cheeks and eyes that are clear and bright with a hint of joy. The heart is rooted in the tongue, allowing us clear, concise speech. A nourished heart will allow joy to flow from us and truth to be spoken.

So this February make sure to have your physical heart checked out but not neglect your spirit. When functioning properly, it can bring joy to your life and those around you.

A New Perspective on Resolutions

With the new year comes new resolutions to do better in 2016.  I was curious about what the most popular resolutions tend to be.  It seems we all want to lose weight, eat healthy, get fit, stop smoking, save money, volunteer somewhere and try something new.  After reading these I thought “we can help you with all of those!”

Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce Body Mass Index in persons who get regular treatment.  Click here to read an article for more in depth information. 

It also reduces stress which is often a major factor in keeping weight on and making unhealthy food choices.  No, we can’t make you go to the gym but we can increase your energy and motivation or decrease that knee pain that has gotten between you and exercise in the past.

Acupuncture is also great at helping people quit smoking.  We even have a stop smoking package to make it more affordable for our patients.  This way you can save money by not buying cigarettes and not pay a fortune to quit.

Now you may ask “how can MCA help me reach my goal of volunteering?” We are always looking for volunteers to help with all sorts of things from working at the front desk to hanging up fliers around town.  You can pick up an application at the front desk and let us know what skills you would like to share with us.

So, get in here and get your new year started right.  We can’t wait to help you try something new and reach all your goals for the year.  Lets make 2015 count together!