Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

What is Oriental Medicine and how does it work?

Oriental medicine is an effective system of medicine that has been used for thousands of years and is still utilized by nearly two billion people today. The term “Oriental medicine” can encompass a host of modalities from acupuncture and herbs to cupping, gua sha and many other tools. Each of these can be used alone or in combination to return the body to homeostasis.

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture uses sterile, single-use needles to gently stimulate acupuncture points throughout the body. The needles are the width of a hair or a whisker and are strong yet flexible, allowing them to be gently inserted on the surface of the skin.

Do the needles hurt – and where do they go?

Many people associate needles with pain. In the West, we are used to hollow, thick and rigid hypodermic needles (think getting a shot or a blood draw). Acupuncture needles are not hollow; they are small and whisker-thin, which means the sensation is completely different.

With an acupuncture needle, you may feel a very mild sensation, if at all, upon insertion but it dissipates almost immediately. Most commonly patients describe a sort of heaviness, a gentle throb or even a slight twitch, but not pain. Pain is not the objective.

There are thousands of acupuncture points across the body but the most commonly used are on the back, lower legs and arms. The needles are inserted just at the surface or only slightly under.

I am always checking in with you to make sure you feel comfortable and I never ask you to do anything that might not feel right. You are in control – and be assured, I never stimulate any acupuncture points that I have not had done on myself to know how it feels.

How many treatments are needed?

Acupuncture is a gentle nudge to the system that encourages the body to return to a natural, healthy state. The number of treatments truly depends on the individual, their health concerns and for how long a condition has been a problem. Just as in Western medicine, something that is chronic and long term generally takes longer to address than something acute and short term.

I am always up-front and honest in discussing how long we can expect to see positive changes. That discussion is based on my experience and professional opinion. I am consistently checking in with you throughout your treatment plan to ensure we are moving in the right direction.

What is dry needling and trigger point therapy?

Dry needling is a Western adaptation of acupuncture. It involves using acupuncture needles to stimulate acupuncture points that also happen to be muscular trigger points. Brief stimulation of these muscle motor points results in a gentle reflex of the muscle. The treatment helps unlock tight muscle tissue and creates a greater range of motion and possible relief from pain.

In California, only licensed acupuncturists are allowed to perform dry needling because, unlike physical therapists and chiropractors, we have had the necessary training.

Do you take insurance?

I do not. In a perfect world, I would love to because it means that more people could benefit from acupuncture. However, the amount of time I spend with patients and the level of care that I provide are not recognized by insurance companies as reimbursable. I spend the time it takes to treat each patient and not what an insurance company tells me I am able to do.

I do accept HSA/FSA accounts, offer a cash discount and provide packages of appointments to purchase to help bring your cost down.

How should I prepare for my first visit?

Come well-rested and hydrated. Eat within a couple of hours of your appointment time. Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easier access to the points.

I use fresh, clean linens for both the patient and the massage table for each appointment. This helps you to stay warm, cozy, comfortable and covered throughout the treatment.

What can acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes more than 300 different diseases and disorders that can be treated with Oriental medicine. To bring you the best possible outcomes, I spend my time focusing on three areas:

  1. Orthopedic disorders involving musculoskeletal pain and acute injury
  2. Mental health issues focusing on stress and anxiety
  3. Internal medicine issues focusing on digestive health, adrenal fatigue and hormonal balance for both men and women
Is acupuncture and Oriental medicine safe?

It is extremely safe. It is an all-natural, drug-free therapy leaving few or no side effects. My six-year graduate education and 10+ years treating patients have provided me with a wealth of experience to ensure your safety and comfort.

What is Chinese herbal medicine?

The Chinese collection of herbs includes thousands of plants and hundreds of formulas. Chinese medicine was the first to combine herbs into formulas to address every health ailment imaginable.

I am a trained and licensed Chinese herbalist with a long track record of using herbs to help accelerate my patients’ healing process. Pharmacology and studies of drug-herb interaction were included in my education to help support the safest patient outcomes. I use only capsules or pills made by reputable U.S.-based companies that produce products that comply with all federal, state and local regulations.

Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?

Yes. Some points are contraindicated during pregnancy, though, so please let me know if you are or think you might be pregnant. Other points will be substituted to accomplish the same effect.

What kind of education is required to be a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?

It starts with a four-year post-graduate master’s degree that includes a heavy focus in Western medicine along with systems of Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Training also includes more than 1000 hours of hands-on supervised care in a clinical setting.

The doctoral program is separate and can take one to two years to complete. It incorporates elements of research design, public health and Western differential diagnosis.

In addition, I also worked in and studied at a hospital in Chengdu, China, completing rounds and treating patients in the same departments you would find in a hospital here in the United States.

What kind of licensing is required?

I am licensed by the State of California after completing the necessary board exams. I have also completed a series of national board exams and am recognized nationally by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Both the state and national governing bodies require continuing education requirements to be completed every two and four years, respectively.

I am also board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the American Association of Natural Wellness Providers.

Functional Medicine

What is functional medicine?

With functional medicine, the focus shifts from a traditional disease-centered paradigm to a more patient-centered approach addressing the whole person, their lifestyle factors and their environment rather than an isolated set of symptoms. The purpose is not to diagnose but rather to understand the current metabolic conditions within the body and the underlying history in which disease or lack of wellness has manifested.

Why is functional medicine needed?

Even with all of our advancements in medicine, we are still seeing a strong increase in people who suffer from chronic conditions. Most physicians are oriented toward acute care, which involves the diagnosis and treatment of trauma and illness by following symptoms only and not addressing the underlying root causes. This acute-care model does not have the proper tools for preventing chronic illness before it starts. It is “sick care,” not healthcare.

I have a healthy respect for Western medicine and medical doctors, but because of time and business constraints, most physicians are restricted from providing adequate care that addresses preventative medicine, lifestyle coaching and exercise instruction to not only treat but also prevent illness in their patients.

Functional medicine works to address these gaps by combining the best of modern medical science with a model of preventative care in its truest form while recognizing the need for acute care through a medical doctor when necessary.

How is functional medicine different?

Functional medicine works to deconstruct and understand the origins, prevention and treatment of complex chronic conditions.  This includes patient centered care by focusing on the promotion of health as a positive way of life- not just the absence of disease.  I listen to your story and bring you into the discovery process as part of a team effort.  Functional medicine works to look “upstream” by considering the complex interactions in a patient’s health history, physiology and lifestyle that can set the stage for illness. Functional medicine is also integrative by combining Western perspectives along with nutrition, diet, exercise and the use of the latest testing and diagnostic techniques that go much deeper than those offered by most medical doctors.

How long does it take to get results?

This varies with each individual. It is not uncommon to experience dramatic improvement within the first month but other cases may take longer. Health conditions take time to develop so it takes time to deconstruct them. Once we meet, I can give you a better idea of the time frame involved based on the health history you share with me.

For this reason, I offer functional medicine through my health coaching program and offer a la carte lab testing if that is the best option for you. Should you decide to invest in a longer coaching and functional medicine program, you can apply those investments to your next level of commitment.

What type of lab tests do you use and how many are required?

I use a variety of lab tests from only the most reputable national companies. The exact number of tests recommended depends on your own situation, the number of issues you want to address and whether they are chronic or acute. Most patients will need 1-4 labs to get a thorough picture.

How do appointments and consultations work?

Appointments vary depending on your investment. Long-term coaching programs can include anywhere from 6-20 appointments. A la carte lab testing includes a 60- to 90-minute initial consultation followed by one or two follow-up appointments to track your progress and address questions.

What supplements do you suggest to patients?

My first approach is always to address imbalances through food, sleep and lifestyle adjustments. Supplements are chosen carefully to help accelerate your progress and are not intended to be long-term “fixes” if at all possible. I work with a carefully selected range of supplements obtained through superior pharmaceutical-grade supplement companies.

Stress and Anxiety Coaching

What is Stress and Anxiety Coaching?

My goal is to help you thrive and become your most resilient self.  We have so much coming at us in our modern world.  Too much information, too many stressors and too many options.  It’s no wonder so many people are teetering on the edge of an anxiety and stress meltdown.  But guess what, it’s not your fault because most of us were never taught how to deal with it all, find our “center” and overcome the overwhelm.

I know because I’ve been there too.  I am passionate about curating and creating long-term relationships with clients to help them live their best lives- however you decide that looks.  Relief is possible by combining cutting edge anxiety management techniques, the latest in functional medicine lab testing and real-world nutrition and lifestyle management anyone can incorporate into their lives.  I’ve helped hundreds of others claim their calm and I’ve done it myself too. 

It’s time to learn how to thrive- not just survive and reconnect with body, mind and spirit to evolve into the most resilient version of yourself.

How does coaching work?

I’m more interested in what matters to you rather than what’s the matter with you.  Through this lens, you get to curate your best life and I hold your hand through the process. You are the expert in your own life.  This is a self-directed process and I walk alongside you every step of the way.  Together we cut through the clutter, discover what truly matters to you and create a plan.  This strategy and roadmap typically involves subtle lifestyle changes, nutritional adjustments and the knowledge we gain from lab testing to dig deep and address small imbalances that can have major positive impacts in your emotional and physical wellbeing. At its core is the synergy of using all of these tools at once instead of random short-term quick fix solutions you are used to without structure or an end point.

Coaches are trained to assist people with behavior and habit change with empathy and without judgement.  We work together to explore your likes and dislikes, what is working in your life and what is not as well as what you already know and what you choose to learn more about.  We then work to execute a plan that you choose in order to set the identified behavior and habit changes into place.  I believe all of my clients already have the answers, it just takes a little dusting off to find them.

Does a coach tell me what to do?

A coach will help you discover your goals, identify and break through limiting beliefs and ask you reflective questions that elicit change when you are ready.  The most effective tool I have as a coach is to listen.  You will finally be heard.

What’s the difference between coaching and therapy? 

Therapy is for recovery and based upon the past.  Coaching is for discovery and focused on the future. Having a non-biased, judgement-free trained professional, like me, to talk things out helps to bring clarity, structure and accountability to realize your stated goals and objectives.

When is the right time to invest in coaching?

Truthfully, anytime but only when you are ready.  I do not work with everyone that inquires my services as a coach.  I have to be confident that I can assist you if and when you are ready.

Will I need coaching forever?

The goal of coaching is to create independence and foster clients who can access their own inner wisdom to make the best choices for their lives.  Often the answers to overwhelming stress and anxiety have been right in front of us all along.  We just become too bogged down to see solutions that have been staring us in the face.  This is where effective coaching comes in. 

It’s true that the amount of time it takes to relinquish old ways of being and trade them out for new habits will be different for each person.  Coaching is designed to be a fluid process based upon independence and your highest good rather than codependence.  What you want for yourself is what I want for you too.