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.
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. That said, some patients respond better to other modalities such as moxibustion and herbal medicine.
Do you accept insurance? How can I afford treatment?
I don’t accept insurance. I can provide a Superbill to present to your insurer.
If cost is an obstacle, I encourage you to reach out as I'm sometimes able to flex on rates for lower-income patients.
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 and moxibustion). 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 for 1-2 months at the beginning, in order to build momentum.
Isn't acupuncture painful?
It can be, but usually only mildly and momentarily. It also depends on the treatment. While I use lighter, gentler techniques on more sensitive patients, I do sometimes perform stronger needling when this is determined to be the best option. People come back because the benefits far outweigh the momentary discomfort.
What style of acupuncture do you practice? Who are your teachers?
The style I use most in practice is called Sa’am Acupuncture. This is a Korean style practiced by Buddhist monks that uses comparatively few needles (typically just four). My practice style is also influenced by various lineages of Japanese Meridian Therapy, which favors gentle treatment.
My herbal approach is rooted in the Han dynasty text, the Shanghan Lun, and leans on classical formulas. I do also incorporate modern/empirical formulas and western herbs as appropriate to the needs of the patient.
My teachers include Dr Heiner Fruehauf, Sharon Weizenbaum, Yu Guo-Jun, Bob Quinn, Brandt Stickley and Toby Daly.
What about moxibustion?
Moxa (from the Japanese 'mogusa') refers to various methods of burning mugwort to stimulate points and warm the channels. Moxa is as important a part of East Asian Medicine as acupuncture, and in my practice I use moxa extensively. I practice several styles including rice grain moxa (okyu), cone moxa (chinetskyu) and warm bamboo moxa (ontake). Patients typically love moxa of all kinds, as it is not only effective for a wide variety of conditions, it is also very comfortable and relaxing.
Benefits of moxa include: restoring homeostasis, regulating bowel function, improving overall wellbeing, increasing immunity, promoting relaxation and deep sleep, relieving pain, improving mobility and range of motion.
If I book a session, what does the process look like from there?
Before our consult, you spend about 20 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, before commencing hands-on treatment (if in person) or formulating and ordering your herbla formula (in person and remote). I may also send customized written recommendations. These recommendations cover diet and anything else I feel is relevant to your overall health. I also provide educational materials as relevant in addition to 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 can be quite tasty.
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 at both clinic locations.
Do you work with Highly Sensitive People (HSP's)?
Yes, but I don't specialize in the particular needs of those whose sensitivities are extremely acute. If there were a "sensitivity scale" from 1-10, with 5 being average and 10 being incredibly sensitive, then I work most often with those in the 5 - 8 range.