Miao miao! 🐱
 I always say DON’T FEAR THE NEEDLE! Here’s why—

Acupuncture needles used in Western practice today are sterile, single-use filiform needles– meaning they aren’t hollow and instead of cutting the skin like beveled needles, they spread the tissue. They are more comparable in size (thickness/diameter) to a cat’s whisker than to needles used in any other medical procedure.

I will be offering a fabulous special over the next couple months for FACIAL REJUVENATION treatments. Do you want to reduce fine lines and wrinkles without impairing your ability to express emotion…? 🙅 Chinese medicine can help you, and while we work on cosmetic concerns, we will simultaneously be promoting systemic healing.

Have Botox injections ever helped your digestion, sleep, and overall energy? 😉 You will be amazed at the other health benefits you experience as a result of your cosmetic treatment.

📣📣 I am working to build a visual portfolio of skin changes over time, so get in touch with me ASAP to be a part of this limited time offer. I guarantee you won’t be able to find this service for a comparable price. Don’t sleep on it. 📣📣
As always, e-mail, call, or text me with any questions! (607)-218-2639

Meg

I ask all of my cis female patients about their menses, and if they are using a period tracker app or another similar tracking method. Tracking your period is useful for many reasons (whether you have issues surrounding menstruation, or you are tracking to plan or avoid pregnancy) and the information you collect from tracking helps me gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in your body week to week. Day one of your cycle is your first day of bleeding; the entire length of your cycle begins when you first bleed and lasts until the next time.


Phase 1- Menstruation phase. This generally lasts 3-5 days. If your menstruation phase lasts longer or shorter than this, it will be one area where we work on cycle regulation. You bleed because the endometrial lining of your uterus is being sloughed off, because last month a fertilized egg failed to be implanted in the uterine lining. During this time, your pituitary gland is simultaneously producing more FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) so your body produces new follicles (can be thought of as ‘pre-eggs’). Avoid vigorous exercise at this time. Since this phase is a sign that you are not currently pregnant, my treatment principle will focus on invigorating qi and blood in order to reduce menstrual cramping and ensure the uterine lining is fully sloughed off. Time to start fresh!

Phase 2- Follicular phase. This is the time period which lasts from right
after you bleed, up until when you ovulate. A follicle becomes dominant and begins producing higher amounts of estrogen. Uterine lining thickens and cervical mucosa thickens, so at this time you may experience some slight vaginal discharge (healthy and normal). You may feel more outgoing and creative at this time—allow yourself to make connections, start new projects, exercise and have more sex. My treatment strategy during this phase focuses primarily on building healthy yin substance, which will make up the new tissue and blood needing to sustain a pregnancy, while subtly boosting yang to promote the growth of a dominant follicle at this time.

Phase 3- Ovulatory phase. Although ovulation is generally considered to be a window of 12 to 48 hours (which can often cause significant stress on both woman and man who are trying to conceive), the window for conception can extend beyond that period by multiple days. An increase in cervical discharge is a good sign! Avoid eating cold substances without being careful to balance with hot/warm, cooked ingredients, and avoid raw vegetables. From an Eastern dietary perspective, cold raw foods can damage qi and yang which are essential in this phase to ensure the necessary warmth to initiate pregnancy. If you become pregnant, your basal body temperature will spike and stay higher than if you are not pregnant.

Phase 4- Luteal phase. If you are pregnant, progesterone levels stay higher, and in accordance so does your body temperature. Often, women may experience a subjective sensation of increased warmth. My treatment at this stage focuses on maintaining the warmth provided by higher levels of yang, and supporting yin to help the body maintain the new pregnancy. If you have not become pregnant, your uterine lining should NOT producing progesterone, and you may feel withdrawn, irritable, or emotional: now is an important time to be soft with yourself, avoid overexertion, and come in for some gentle bodywork.


When your focus is on fertility and becoming pregnant, it is important to be in touch with your care provider weekly (even if you are not able to make it in for treatment) to provide updates on what you are experiencing. My selection of acupuncture points and of herbal formulas will be different each week (though I will work with you to ensure this is as convenient as possible), and they always vary depending on the individual presentation.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions!

-Meg

Hi everyone! Meg here, writing today about a topic which is often a great—but unnecessary—source of stress for many people: FERTILITY! To begin, I want to discuss a bit about Chinese medicine theory and how that relates to our treatment strategies in regulating the menstrual cycle and promoting fertility.

Chinese medicine is very different from Western medicine in a variety of ways, but there is one fundamental difference: Chinese medicine considers the human body in relation to nature, taking into account an individual’s living environment, interpersonal relationships, occupation, hobbies, and daily routines regarding eating and sleeping. Through observation of rhythms in the natural world, Chinese medicine practitioners provide insight and suggestions as to how to restore homeostasis (AKA balance) to internal systems (reproductive, gastrointestinal, respiratory, sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems). My goal is to provide you with both treatment and guidance so you may more clearly experience your body’s connection to natural cycles. Developing and understanding this connection is critical in both prevention of illness and to THRIVING in your body.

Everything comes down to the interaction of yin-yang (“yeen-yawng”), which is both expansive and simple in meaning. The taijitu symbol, made infamous in American ‘90s teen culture, was originally created as a visual representation of the sun passing over a hillside. The observer watched as the shadows and light gradually shifted and changed. Yin-yang theory is all about natural transformation. It can most easily be understood in terms of symbolizing complementary opposites which are mutually dependent upon each other while constantly being in flux. In Chinese medicine, substances and processes surrounding the body all have a quality of being either more yin or more yang.

  • Yin – associated with the feminine. More substantial. Dark. Heavy. Yielding. Still. Cool. Fall/Winter. Nighttime.
  • Yang – associated with the masculine. More energetic. Bright. Light. Outgoing. Active. Warm. Spring/Summer. Daytime.

                Everyone and everything has aspects of both yin and yang.  My job is to help restore your body to its healthy, physiological rhythm.

So I had to change my plans for attending the NMMS this weekend. This is a time of plentiful, big transitions for both Kamran and I, and I’ve been spreading myself a bit thin between a lot of demands this month. (Anyone else familiar with this?) We have two of my best friends’ wedding this weekend in Poughkeepsie– the absolutely lovely Hannah and Zach (AKA Zannah) of Thrive Acupuncture and Chiropractic near Pittsburgh, PA– which we are super pumped for! Between travelling to the wedding in the midst of the conference plus sleeping outside, I had a creeping suspicion I would fall ill if I tried to do it all… I had to take a step back, and prioritize what is most important. A hard decision for me to make, but nevertheless, I hope to attend the summit next year!!

BUT! I still have two more medicinal mushrooms of the Chinese pharmacopoeia to talk about.

Also, I wanted to share this abstract for a lit review published in 2017 in the International Review of Neurobiology, about the treatment of insomnia with Chinese medicine (herbs!). The mechanisms of our beloved Fuling (Poria cocos 茯苓) discussed in the previous post are analyzed in relation to how it promotes better sleep (in Chinese medicine, we say it has the function of calming the spirit). Now for a couple more fantastic featured fungi friends:

Dong Chong Xia Cao 冬蟲夏草 (aka Chinese cordyceps sinensis) – Technically *pushes up glasses* not a fungus! It is a medicinal substance produced by the process of a parasitic fungus growing on specific caterpillar larvae (in particular Lepidoptera Hepialus armoricanus). The fungus grows in the autumn, and the next spring/early summer the stromal tissue of the fungus develops, which is why this herb’s name translates to “winter herb, summer grass.” In the spring, it’s cultivated before it disperses its spores. In Chinese medicine, we consider this substance to be sweet in flavor, warm in nature, with the ability to gently tonify Lung and Kidney yang. It is found in formulas used to treat issues like male impotence, spermatorrhea/nocturnal emissions, chronic coughing and wheezing with phlegm and small amounts of blood, spontaneous sweating, and weak/sore low back and knees. Here’s a cool, detailed review of how Cordyceps sinensis has been used traditionally, medicinally, and a summary of current research.

Yín ěr 银耳 (aka wood ear, silver ear, snow ear, snow fungus, white jelly, Tremella fuciformis) – A wonderful food-grade medicinal! The best kind of medicinal– gentle, safe for long-term use, and easily assimilated by the body. It is sweet and bland in flavor, and neutral in nature (have you noticed how most mushrooms I’ve discussed are neutral in nature? That means they have no post-digestion body temperature effect). In cuisine, it may be served with lean pork to help recovery following a long, debilitating illness. Somewhat similarly to Dong Chong Xia Cao, it may be used to treat chronic cough with blood-streaked mucus– but in this presentation, the individual’s cough would be more dry. If you have had a dry, parched throat with a dry cough which has lasted longer than your typical cold symptoms, or if it is the last lingering symptom after mostly recovering from illness, it would be an excellent idea to experiment with cooking wood ear mushrooms! You can buy them in bulk from any local Asian market.

Megan

Hi all! This Thursday, Aug. 29 to Monday, September 2, I (Megan) will be out of the office at the 2nd annual New Moon Mycology Summit. This year’s conference will be in Thurman, NY in the beautiful Adirondack region. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of medicinal fungi, and to learning about plant species local to our region and about cultivation.

To celebrate 5 days of camping and learning, I wanted to make a post talking about some of the medicinal mushrooms we use in the Chinese medicine pharmacopoeia. (That means if we work together to formulate an herbal treatment plan for you, some of these substances may be present in your custom formula, depending on your presentation and what we are treating!) These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head:

Ling Zhi 霊芝 – a.k.a. ganoderma, reishi! Sweet in flavor and neutral in temperature, it acts on the Heart, Lung, and Liver organ systems. Its primary function is to calm the spirit while boosting qi and nourishing blood.

Fu Ling 茯苓 – a.k.a. poria cocos, white poria. Sweet, bland, and neutral, it acts upon the Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney. It can primarily grows on pine tree roots. There are 4 layers to this fungus which may be used. Fu Ling refers to the fungus body closer to the root. Fu Shen includes the inner core of the fungus as well as the nearby fungus body; this part has more spirit-calming properties than Fu Ling. Chi Fu Ling, or red fu ling, is the part of the fungus growing closer to the outer cortex; this part of the fungus is more effective for treating hematuria (blood in the urine). Fu Ling Pi is the very outer cortex/skin of the fungus, and it is the most strongly diuretic part of the fungus. It has the strongest effect on treating edema, and less of a Spleen-supplementing ability than Fu Ling.

Zhu Ling 猪苓 – or polyporus umbellatus. Sweet, bland, and has a slight cooling effect. Primarily affecting the Spleen, Kidney, and Urinary Bladder systems, it is perhaps the best single substance to promote fluid metabolism. It is said to open the interstices of the body, which can be understood as layers between both superficial and deep tissue, including fascial regions and the mesentary.

I’ve got a couple more neat ones to write about tomorrow, so if you’re interested in plant medicine and in particular medicinal mushrooms, please check back! As always, get in touch with me with any questions or drop us a comment!!

Meg

Dr. Kam here to talk to you about High intensity interval training (HIIT) and the benefits of strength training your legs! The benefits are comparable to resistance training and endurance training combined. They are anaerobic and aerobic and focus on explosiveness and performing at 95-100% intensity. Personally I think the easiest and most fun way to do highly effective HIIT is through circuits and plyometrics.

Megan and I did high jumps as part of our circuit: single and double leg jump squats, with and without weights at varying heights. We also did leg press, squats, stability and core as part of the circuit. Other really good options you may want to include are lunges, mountain climbers, and bear-, crab-, & duck-walking. Anyways, our legs have never felt stronger!!

Strength training is most important in your legs because lower leg muscle mass is more of an indicator of longevity and health than overall muscle mass. So don’t skip leg day, folks. Skip arm day and double up on leg day!

Check out this article on leg strength and mortality rate:
“For anyone trying to live as long as possible and make the most of those years, there are three things to learn from these studies:

1. The stronger you are today, the longer you’re likely to live in the future.

2. Strength in your legs is likely a bigger predictor of future health than the amount of muscle you have overall.

3. Consuming an adequate amount of protein is key to maintaining your muscle and strength as you get older. You don’t want to consume too much protein, but you can give your body a boost on muscle retention by switching out the carbs for an extra serving of chicken or turkey whenever possible.”

                Hi again! I want to wrap up the (honestly all-too-)brief comparison I am doing between the biomedical model of psychiatry and that of Chinese medicine. Truthfully, my “comparison” is not super in-depth (I want to say so much more than I can in even 2 blog posts)– and I am clearly biased toward Chinese medicine, given my profession. Moreover, I can confidently call myself an expert in Chinese medicine, whereas I’m not trained in Western psychiatry (despite an avid personal fascination with it). Therefore, while I wanted to make it clear in my last blog post I believe there are many aspects of Western psychiatry that can be very beneficial, I still may not have done the mental health field due justice in outlining potential therapeutic benefits. Anyway, I don’t want this comparison to be an argument for one form of treatment against another: this is about diagnostic models and lenses for approaching treatment decisions which may include varying modalities.

                A good place to start is with the concept I mentioned at the end of the last blog, pattern differentiation, or ‘bian zheng’ 辨证 (“bee-en j-uhng”). There is a Chinese saying you may have heard if you are familiar with acupuncture, even if you have not studied Chinese medicine in-depth, that goes, “One pattern, many diseases. One disease, many patterns.” Originally, this saying was not referring to Western disease at all. A Chinese disease in many cases may refer to a Western symptom—i.e. dizziness, abdominal discomfort, insomnia, somnolence—although there are certain Chinese diseases which, when translated, roughly share a common Western disease name— depression, for instance. One major difference between depression as a Chinese disease and as a Western disease is the diagnostic criteria.

                So in Western psychiatry, for example, to be diagnosed with ‘major depressive disorder’ or clinical depression, according to the DSM-5 (most recent edition, published in 2013) a patient must meet 5 or more of the following symptoms within a 2-week period, these symptoms must be a change from patient’s previous subjective experience, and at least one symptom must be either depressed mood or loss of sensation/pleasure:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.)
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation).
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gain.)
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
  8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

                Honestly, it’s been a few years since I last looked at this list. Looking at it now, at the end of my 3-year Masters degree, all I can think is, “….holy $h!*, so many of those are totally different symptoms that could have so many different pathomechanisms—how can just having a collection of THESE symptoms lead to ONE diagnosis, and such a small range of similar pharmacological therapies?” Truthfully, the answer is that Western psychiatry does not have a great lens for understanding the development and cause of depression—which is what the study cited in my last post sheds a little light on.

                Did you notice how so many of the qualifying symptoms are related to an individual’s energy? One is directly related to food intake, appetite, and digestion (weight loss or gain), while others are often indirectly related to this (depressed mood, sleep pathologies, psychomotor changes, fatigue, poor focus/concentration, indecisiveness). And this is just how my Chinese medicine brain works now—I can’t help but crawl all over these symptoms individually and collectively, and see how there could be so many potential root causes of this person’s depression! All of these individual symptoms are areas of questioning and observation that Chinese medicine practitioners gather more information about (eating habits, appetite, quality and quantity of sleep, subjective sense of energy). Upon looking at this list of symptoms, I cannot help but start to ask questions about what initial non-invasive steps an individual could take to experiment with how lifestyle factors affect their mood and energy.

                People sometimes become uncomfortable when epigenetic (AKA lifestyle) factors are implicated in disease, which is becoming more commonplace as the study of epigenetics (how genes are turned on and off based on interaction with one’s environment) grows. Pointing the finger at lifestyle factors as opposed to genetic factors may make people feel as though they are being blamed for their condition. However this could not be further from the truth! I would like to quote my friend, the poet and photographer Clare Welsh, who responded thoroughly to my last blog post with some of her thoughts as someone going back to school to study psychology:

“There are certain universal mental illnesses: schizophrenia exists in every culture. However, there is research that suggests that this is actually an adaptive disorder the brain develops to protect itself, or even protect against certain cancers, much like the condition of sickle cell anemia was developed by people in warmer climates to protect against the condition of malaria. Taking this view of schizophrenia helps combat stigma. The brain isn’t messed up. The brain is doing what it does in all of us: trying to survive.”

Shifting focus from genetic to epigenetic factors allows for individuals to be empowered by their own sheer ability to change their lives. Many diseases– not just mental-emotional, but musculoskeletal and visceral as well– develop due to the body initially adapting to protect itself against harmful stimuli. Understanding changes in physiology from this perspective allows for patients to connect with the idea that our bodies are NOT static, and chronic conditions CAN change.
Of course, there are many aspects of our society dictating parts of our day-to-day lives which we are unable to change. Unfortunately, we see over and over in clinic that this often leads to the development of disease, primarily as a result of emotional constraint or repression. In TCM, this is understood to be one of the primary causes of depression.

                In Chinese medicine, we consider the 7 emotional factors influencing disease to be joy, worry, grief, sadness, anger, fear, and fright (fright differentiated from fear in that fright is more acute and sudden—to be startled rather than to be chronically afraid of something). Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion states,

“These are normal emotional responses of the body to external stimuli, and do not normally cause disease. Severe, continuous or abruptly occurring emotional stimuli, however, which surpass the regulative adaptability of the organism, will affect the physiological function of the human body, especially when there is a preexisting oversensitivity to them […] The seven emotional factors […] directly affect the zang-fu organs, qi and blood. For this reason, they are considered to be the main causative factors of endogenous diseases” (page 268).

In all cases, each patient presentation must be evaluated individually to determine the best treatment plan. After a clinician has interviewed the patient, reviewed their medical history, and performed observational and palpatory investigation, the patient’s pattern can be determined. In part, the reason why this diagnostic method works so excellently in clinical practice is that it allows for changes in the treatment plan based on how the patient presents in that moment and what they have experienced since last treatment.

               I have a ton more I would like to write about this, but I think this is a good place to stop for now. I have not even begun to discuss the consideration of the Shen, which is 100% essential in TCM psychiatry. There may be a 2-part discussion of the Shen coming up in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, I gladly welcome any questions related to this post or the previous post. You can e-mail me at our clinic e-mail or shoot me a message on our clinic FB page. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for reading!

Megan