What conditions can acupuncture and herbal medicine help?
A wide variety. I have seen success with everything from insomnia to flu, post-chemo recovery to menstrual cramps, UTI's to infertility. Outcomes vary depending on patient’s constitution, nature of the illness or condition, duration of illness, and willingness to make dietary or lifestyle shifts where appropriate. Some of my very best results have been with people who self-identify as sensitive.
I don’t know if I believe in acupuncture. Should I bother to come in?
You don’t have to believe in acupuncture any more than you have to believe in the road crew: they get the job done, no belief required.
Do you accept insurance? How can I afford treatment?
I don’t accept insurance at this time. I can provide a superbillto present to your insurer. I’m aware that money is tight for many these days and I am often willing to work with those in a lower-income situation--please enquire if you could use rate flexibility.
How frequently will I need treatment?
It depends who you are and what you’re working with. Acute conditions can often be resolved or greatly ameliorated in one session or with a single round of herbs. Chronic and serious conditions often benefit from intensive treatment at first (e.g. weekly or twice-weekly acupuncture). Improvement can usually be noted with each session, and treatment frequency generally decreases over time. My goal is to eventually make myself superfluous.
For most chronic patients, weekly treatment is advised at first, in order to gain traction.
Is acupuncture painful?
It can be, momentarily. The style I use most in practice (called Sa’am Acupuncture) uses comparatively few needles--typically just four--but the points themselves can sometimes be intense. Expect to say ‘ouch’ once or twice. Somewhere between a pinch and a sting, the sensation doesn’t last long, and people usually become deeply relaxed or fall asleep while resting with needles in. People come back because the benefits far outweigh the momentary discomfort.
What about moxibustion?
Moxa is nearly as important a part of East Asian Medicine as acupuncture. Moxa (from the Japanese 'mogusa') refers to various methods of burning mugwort to stimulate points and warm the channels. In my practice, I mainly perform two types of moxibustion.
One is thread or 'rice-grain' moxa, in which tiny bits of moxa fluff are burned directly on points and extinguished with the fingers or a small piece of bamboo. The other is a method called Ontake, 'warm bamboo,' in which a bamboo tube filled with smoldering moxa is used to rhythmically massage and percuss the channels. Patients find it very relaxing and results can be remarkably rapid.
If I book a session, what does the process look like from there?
Before our consult, you spend about 25 minutes filling out some basic health information and signing a consent to treatment form. Then we have an initial session, either in person (90 minutes if including acupuncture) or by phone (60 minutes). During that time I'll ask some questions and do a lot of listening. We may consult the I Ching or do another form of divination during that time.
Then I formulate and ship your herbs. I also send customized written recommendations. These cover diet--emphasis is on what's nourishing and grounding, not so much on eliminating lots of things (unless you're living on soda and candy). They also cover anything else I feel is relevant to your health and life situation. I also provide educational materials as relevant. These materials build on the free ones available here.
What form do herbs come in? Will they taste terrible?
Generally, either a bulk decoction (concentrated tea) or granule/powder. Tinctures are sometimes given in addition, as are things like topical liniments. It depends on the situation.
The taste of decoction and tinctures can be...memorable. It can also be delightful. It depends. Many sensitive patients end up liking their herbs quite a bit, since they often need nourishing formulas that are on the sweet-and-spicy side.
I've taken herbs before and they didn't do anything. Why should I expect this to be any different?
If you've taken herbs before and been underwhelmed, it's probably because you were taking a one-size-fits-all, generic product not designed to address your particular constitution and situation. The formula that you'll receive after our consultation is different from anything pre-packaged. It's a fine-tuned, custom-tailored medicine rooted in ancient wisdom, designed to meet your system where it's at and move it towards greater harmony.
Are Chinese herbs safe?
There are two potential issues here: the practitioner's skills/knowledge and the sourcing of the herbs themselves. Regarding the first, anything that is medicinal can also be toxic in the wrong amount, which is part of why so much training is required to become an herbalist. I have been a dedicated herb nerd for over a decade and continue to pursue advanced training and continuing ed, and I am confident that the herbs I give are both safe and potent.
As to the issue of sourcing, I stock Asian herbs from the most scrupulous supplier, Spring Wind; they test their products for hundreds of potential pesticides and chemicals and favor organic and ethically-wildcrafted materials wherever possible. I also grow certain herbal materials myself using strictly natural methods, and harvest some others from clean wild places.
What about animals? Am I contributing to loss of endangered species by taking Asian medicine?
Like virtually all practitioners I know, I strictly refrain from the use of pangolin scales, hornet's nest, rhinoceros horn, tiger bone, and all other animal products that have conservation issues. The only animal products I regularly use are oyster shell and a type of fossilized bone traditionally known as "dragon bone." I also occasionally make use of insect medicinals where refraining from doing so would compromise treatment outcomes, which is rare.
What precautions are being taken for Covid-19?
Much as I trust Traditional East Asian Medicine, I also respect the insights of modern epidemiology and the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. Patients are currently asked to wear masks, as I myself do, regardless of vaccination status. Sanitary precautions including air filtration are also in place.
Do you work with Highly Sensitive People (HSP's)?
Yes, but I don't claim to specialize in the particular needs of those whose sensitivities are especially acute. If there were a "sensitivity scale" from 1-10, with 4 being average human sensitivity and 10 being incredibly sensitive, then I probably work most frequently with those in the 4 - 8 range.