The Acupuncture Experience

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It had been many moons since I received an acupuncture treatment — until last week. It was much overdue! Unfortunately, it is fairly typical for most acupuncturists I know to scrimp on their own self care. Every time I decide to make time to get acupuncture I think, “Why am I not doing this more often?” 

While the experience of getting an acupuncture treatment can be different for everyone, I want to describe my latest experience here for two reasons. First, to dispel some of the mystery and fear for those who have never had acupuncture before, and second to encourage self care for those who have been putting it off for too long. It really is worth it.

How Acupuncturists Treat Other Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists tend to trade treatments with each other. What this means is that the treatments often lack the “bells and whistles” you are likely to get as a real paying patient. There is a quick check to see what’s going on and then you get some needles without a whole lot of fanfare.  But while we might get the short end of stick in the TLC and pampering department, what this quick and bare bones kind of treatment does reveal is the actual effect of just the needles. 

The Importance of Self Awareness

Even though this was a bare bones treatment, the acupuncturist still asked how I was doing, took my pulse and looked at my tongue. This was helpful not only as a way to inform her of what points to use, but it also served as a check in for myself. Even though I had been feeling particularly stressed out, the simple questions she asked “How are you doing?” and “Do you have any aches or pains?” brought my attention into my body and made me realize that physically I actually felt quite good (something to be thankful for), and that emotionally, despite the stress I was under, I still felt whole and stable. 

That simple pointed question of “How are you doing?” can bring a lot of self awareness into play. Taking a moment to assess how you are doing — finding that true awareness — is one of the biggest contributors to better choices and better health. Never underestimate the power of paying attention to your own state of well being.

The Gift of Being Seen

When she took my pulse she quickly made the comment, “You are not really in your body.” This observation was a surprise to me, but I realized she was right. I was so concerned with pushing through a stressful time, and trying to take care of others, that I had kind of vacated myself. A dangerous habit to get into. I felt thankful to her for noticing something I had no awareness of. It feels good to be seen — for someone else to provide their undivided attention even for just a brief moment and to join with you on a path dedicated to better health. 

Fear of Needles

I must also say that even though I have no problem performing acupuncture on others —  and actually the majority of people have no problem at all being needled — I myself am a needle ninny and a sensitive scaredy cat. I forget how afraid I actually am of being needled until I’m lying there on the table, feeling vulnerable waiting for the needles to be inserted. It’s a good reminder of how vulnerable my patients can feel. Trust is of the utmost importance — I need to know that I am in good hands. I carefully choose who I will allow to needle me. And I bring this understanding into my own practice.

So, as usual, the needles were quick and painless. Despite the noisy construction that was clearly audible in the street outside, a deep quiet came over me. Sweet stillness. Deep relaxation. It’s kind of like sleep but different. The body feels heavy, the eyes close, and time seems to both speed up and slow down at the same time.

As a practitioner, I feel I can clearly explain what’s happening during an acupuncture treatment. But as a patient, the experience is strange, powerful, and mysterious, and I am left in awe of the medicine, wondering “how in the world does this work?”

All the stress I had been feeling was replaced by a sense of wellbeing. Success. Thank you Chinese Medicine!

After Effects

The time on the table was up quicker than I hoped. I felt like I wanted to stay on that table for six months. On the drive home I had the same sensation I get when I return from a real vacation. My mind was quiet, my body relaxed, and the feeling that whatever the stressors in my life they were now approachable and in the background — of course the stressors still existed, but my ability to put them into perspective and not make myself crazy worrying about things improved a great deal. I also noticed I had that sense of feeling that I had just done something good for myself. And that inspires me to continue to make good choices, keep the stress in check, and to take the time for regular self care so that I can continue caring for others!

Continued Support

As an acupuncturist, I know that one treatment is a good start, but to continue keeping myself healthy requires commitment. Regular treatments, regular exercise (see my post on exercise tips here), lots of fresh vegetables, and when needed, herbal medicine.

Commit yourself to better health. Make an acupuncture appointment today! Crow Heart Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs is gentle, affordable, and effective!

Share Your Acupuncture Experiences – Leave a Comment!



Phone: 510-919-5689


Chinese Medicine for Healthy Weight Loss


The topic of weight loss is a tricky matter for at least two reasons.

First, it can be difficult to achieve. Our bodies are biologically programmed to maintain our weight at a metabolic set point.

With crash diets and rapid weight loss, metabolic alarm bells go off. Your body shifts into low gear, to prevent weight loss. Metabolism slows down, possibly for many years, making it increasingly difficult to lose weight. This is a life saving technique developed to keep you alive during a famine. The body doesn’t understand you are just simply trying very hard to drop excess pounds. All that calorie counting and deprivation for nothing. Ouch. 

On top of lowering your metabolism, diets increase appetite stimulating hormones–making it harder and harder to resist cravings. These two biological responses to rapid weight loss are the reasons why, no matter how strong your commitment, you are very likely to gain weight after dieting. It turns out patience, realistic expectations, and long term commitment to lifestyle changes really are the key. Acupuncture and herbs can make that process easier, but we will get to that in a bit.



The second tricky matter pertaining to weight loss is that true health is often left out of the picture.  Most people want to lose weight in order to look better. Health is a secondary concern.

The media tells us what our bodies “should” look like. Falling prey to the belief in the ideal bodies presented in these images leads us down the painful path of body image issues, counterproductive crash diets, obsessive exercising–or exercise apathy–and our own obsessions with our looks. That is to say, we become motivated by looking better instead of feeling better. And we may scramble compulsively to achieve some impossible ideal, or give up completely and resign ourselves to not caring at all.

Among women over 18 looking at themselves in the mirror, research indicates that at least 80% are unhappy with what they see. Many will not even be seeing an accurate reflection.” — The Social Research Center


I will be the first to admit to some of these pitfalls. In fact, I’ve re-written this post about a dozen times in a month trying to be sure I wasn’t asking of others what I myself wasn’t able to do. I intended to breezily spell out the benefits Chinese Medicine for weight loss, and include a loud message that we should love our bodies just the way they are. 

But as I wrote about loving your body just the way it is, and losing weight for health, not vanity, I found that I too was guilty of being dissatisfied with my own body. And had to admit to myself (and to my exercise buddy) that I am often motivated to exercise and eat better not because of the benefits to my overall well being, but for the impact it might make on my waistline. There is nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to look your best, but when at what point do we stop trying to improve, and accept ourselves for who we are? At what point do we finally begin to put our health–and not our looks–first?

I had to admit that I still struggle to drown out the loud cry of the media that waves the perfect body in front of me and asks me to chase it.




And chasing after it is completely understandable. We grow up being inundated by images of these “ideal” bodies.

When we are children, we are given the ideal of a physically impossible Barbie. As we grow up we see extremely thin and / or anorexic models (the average model is 23% thinner than the average woman — fifty years ago, it was only 8%). Everyone is shocked by the women who make it into the public eye who do not fit the ideal. We can name them — Oprah, Roseanne, Adele, and a handful of comedians and politicians…but the list is short.

Meanwhile, food in America has been super sized, with loads of sugar, and artificial ingredients. And it’s everywhere. Super size your food but down size your body. What a horrible set up.


A common sight in magazines — tempting empty calorie foods coupled with cries to lose weight:


The impossibility of the Barbie ideal:



The media programming is effective and very tough to expel from your ideas about yourself. Developing minds are impressionable; Research reveals the majority of eight year old girls have been on a diet. Most eleven year old girls are already unhappy with their bodies.

This is tragic.

Think about yourself and the people you know. How many of us are actually content, even appreciative, of our bodies? Even the people I know who come close to meeting the ideal still complain about this or that part of their body, or become obsessed with their identity as a thin person.

The “average” women’s proportions next to Barbie’s proportions:


It is nearly impossible not to be affected by the message that, no matter what your size, there is something wrong with your body.  

Feeling good, in mind and body, becomes secondary. 

The Obesity Epidemic

All of that said, many of us really do need to lose weight, for health reasons.

In the United States, 7 out of 10 people are overweight.

Does it matter?

Yes. Being at a healthy weight, and being physically fit, minimizes risks to a wide range of diseases, improves energy and can significantly improve both quality of life and life span. I don’t think there is anyone among us who wants to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, joint pain, shortness of breath, or Alzheimer’s. 

However, losing weight and being healthy doesn’t have to mean you starve yourself and run marathons to get there. It doesn’t have to mean you wear a size zero. And it definitely doesn’t mean you are supposed to look like Barbie. It simply means your quality of life, and your health, will improve.

And that is the major difference. Quality of life. If we go down the path of impossible ideals and being eternally unsatisfied with our bodies we suffer – mentally and physically. If we go down the path of treating our bodies well, being kind to ourselves, accepting that models in magazines are impossible illusions, we begin to achieve true health and an improved quality of life. And isn’t that what we all truly strive for in the end?

So here is a list of ways we can reclaim our bodies, re-set our motivations, and put our health first:

  1. Put down the fashion magazine (and understand airbrushing)!

Research studies have proven that within minutes of exposure to fashion magazines, self esteem plummets. Those who consume these images are more likely to eat unhealthfully, go on crash diets, and ultimately gain weight. As a reminder, take a look at these images–they are models shown before and after airbrushing. Here is what the media does to bodies that are already thin — they make them even thinner! We don’t need to disappear!








2. Stop dieting.

There has never been a single diet that results in long term weight loss. In fact, diets which result in rapid weight loss end up sending off alarm bells in your body and actually lowering your metabolism. This means that unless you continue to restrict calories forever you will end up gaining more weight than where you started before the diet. Seriously, stop dieting. And congratulate yourself that you don’t have to torture yourself anymore. (Please note, “stop dieting” doesn’t mean eat junk food all day long…)

Image3. Practice appreciating your body.

Instead of obsessing over the cellulite on your thighs or the roll over your waistband, pay more attention to the parts of your body that you love. Don’t forget to say thanks for the amazing things your body does everyday — feet for walking, hands for touching, a working digestive track, a heart that beats day in and day out….you get the picture. Our physical bodies are simply amazing. Yet we allow some airbrushed picture in a fashion magazine to breed hatred toward the physical form that is our one and only vessel with which we get to walk the earth! Our bodies are not ornaments. Wake up in the morning and thank your body for being the instrument of your life!


4. Investigate Intuitive and Mindful Eating.

Intuitive Eating is a relatively recent concept. The basic goal of an intuitive eater is to retrain yourself to tune into your own hunger cues (and satisfy them) and also to tune into the cues that tell you you are full (and then stop eating). Another goal of intuitive eating is to learn to recognize the foods that feel good to your whole body — not just to your tongue and your eyes. How do you feel after you eat chocolate chip cookies? How do you feel after you eat a kale salad? Pretty different, I’ll bet. Intuitive eating is about noticing those differences, and honoring what feels healthy to your body. It is not about restricting calories, or being on a diet. It is about eating sensibly, healthfully, and with pleasure! 


Preliminary research studies have found after practicing intuitive eating for a length of time, excess weight is lost without even trying, and self esteem and body image goes up. Disordered eating (like emotional eating) tends to decrease.

When eating intuitively, weight loss tends to happen more slowly than with a crash diet — but this is a good thing. With slow weight loss, your metabolism does not decline and therefore the weight tends to stay off, without the signature rebound weight gain of a crash diet. 

5. Make Time to Move!

One of the biggest challenges to a healthier lifestyle is finding the time and motivation to exercise. We all have 24 hours in a day. Our lives tend be extremely busy and exercise often does not make the cut when we list our priorities. But, truth is, whether you like it or not, some form of physical exercise needs to be a priority. Movement is essential to our health.  

Exercise elevates our mood. It keeps our bodies in good working order. It helps to prevent a huge range of diseases from depression and diabetes to PMS and Alzheimer’s. Make a commitment to yourself to make the time to exercise.

(Click here for tips to get yourself moving.)


6. Commit to True Health and Take Care of Yourself

Some of us spend a lot of time taking care of others and forget to take care of ourselves. Prioritize your own health. Make time for yourself. Start small with a daily ten minute walk, or a massage once a month (you can spare one hour a month, I guarantee it!), do some yoga stretches for five minutes in the morning, or get a weekly acupuncture treatment…

Did Someone Say Acupuncture?


Acupuncture is an effective and natural way to help bring your mind and body to a state of well being. Research has shown individualized acupuncture and herbal treatments can support healthy weight loss by:

  • Regulating nervous system function
  • Regulating the endocrine system
  • Regulating the digestive system
  • Diminishing food cravings
  • Improving metabolism
  • Reducing aches and pains
  • Promoting maximum nutrient absorption
  • Regulating elimination
  • Supporting a good night’s sleep
  • Helping to manage emotions
  • Strengthening the liver’s function to process nutrients and break down fats
  • Increasing muscle tone in the stomach to help people know they are full

That said, acupuncture treatment is not magical, nor does it result in the kind of extremely rapid, unhealthy weight loss of a crash diet.

Acupuncture is part of a holistic, healthy, gradual weight loss plan that results in better overall health. 

Course of Treatment for Weight Loss

A course of treatment for healthy weight loss typically consists of one or two treatments per week for 8 to 12 weeks. One study found receiving ten mini-acupuncture treatments (just ear needles) over four weeks, achieved an average weight reduction of 6.1%.

Depending on the needs of the patient, Chinese Medicine treatments can include:

  • Ear and body acupuncture
  • Healthy and realistic goal setting
  • Electro-stimulation of certain acupuncture points
  • Ear “seeds” left in place between treatments
  • Herbs and supplements
  • Dietary and Lifestyle recommendations
  • Cupping for cellulite reduction

Make time for yourself.

Make health a priority.

Schedule an appointment today, and let’s work together to help you cultivate a healthier mind and body!



Crow Heart Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs is located in the Rockridge area of Oakland at 66th and Telegraph.

To make an appointment, email or call 510-919-5689.

Treatments are gentle, affordable, and effective!




Tips To Get Moving

An Important component of Weight Loss and Health is Exercise.

Following are some helpful tips to get started:

1. First, get a realistic picture of your health and fitness levels.

Even if your weight falls into the normal range, you may need to improve your fitness levels and dietary habits.

  • Calculate your Body Mass Index here 
  • Take a home self-fitness test here or here 
  • Get a physical exam
  • Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels measured
  • Ask yourself if you feel healthy. In what ways are you satisfied with your health, in what ways would you like to improve?

2.  Start slowly and set easy goals.

Make one larger goal comprised of baby steps. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

For example, in my twenties I decided to start running. Although I was of normal weight, I was sorely out of shape. Running hurt. I had very little endurance, and it was hard to breathe. No fun at all, really. I set a goal to be able to run two miles in one stretch. I gave myself three months time to get to that level of fitness. The first day I ran just 75 feet. And I was done for the day. It was painless, easy, and I did it. It felt good to my sense of accomplishment. I increased my running distance by only 75 feet each day. By the end of the summer, I easily ran two miles. It was amazing! It was easy! I never thought I could do it! And by the end of the next summer, I ran a marathon!

The point is I made the steps so easy that, as long as I followed through each day, I couldn’t fail.

3. Choose a reasonable exercise you enjoy

 It really doesn’t matter what you choose, just get yourself started with a reasonable goal  that will be easy to accomplish. Be realistic. If your local gym is crowded and it’s difficult to find parking, making the whole thing a pain in the butt, chose something else like walking around your neighborhood. You want to set yourself up for success, not failure, so be honest about what will really work for you.

Are you someone who can afford a gym membership? Can you make time to get there every day? Do you feel comfortable in the gym environment? Do you like to swim? Ride your bike? Go walking? Do yoga?

4. Get an exercise buddy (or take a class)!

A good exercise buddy makes working out fun. They are usually someone who lives or works close by to you, in relatively similar physical shape to you. You enjoy their company and can help motivate each other.

If you don’t have an exercise buddy yet, get started on your own exercise plan and keep looking and asking around. You might even go online to find an exercise buddy who lives right in your neighborhood. Having an exercise buddy can make exercising much more fun and get you out there on days when you’d much rather be a couch potato.

Other ways to make exercise more fun (and to have the support of other people) are to join a team sport or take an exercise class. Local community centers often offer inexpensive classes at a variety of levels.

5. Move throughout the day.

Every little bit of movement helps. If you sit all day, set a reminder to at minimum just stand up every fifteen minutes, or walk around the office, do a stretch, or get a standing workstation. If you work at home, schedule chores throughout the day so you don’t have extended periods of time sitting.

Develop other habits to get you moving. Park in the furthest spot from the front door of the store. Start riding your bike instead of driving. Walk your dog. Plant a garden. Dance in your kitchen at odd moments. Take the stairs. Go visit a neighbor. Clean out your garage. Volunteer to walk dogs at the animal shelter. The opportunities are endless.

Don’t Fall Prey to Sitting Disease

Research shows that even if you get an hour of exercise a day, but spend the rest of the day sitting, you are still at risk for the many ailments (diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, reduced longevity, etc.) of what is now called “Sitting Disease.”  Check out the facts at Biologically, we are just not designed to withstand long periods of sitting.

6. Invest in an Activity Tracker.

 Activity Trackers are wearable devices that measure your number of steps, your active minutes, sleep quality, and calories expended, and can be synced with calories consumed.  They can be fun. Activity Trackers help to raise awareness of the actual exercise you are (or are not) getting and also raise awareness of your food choices.

One study found those who wore pedometers increased walking by 16% after wearing an activity tracker. Growing evidence shows that almost all of those who wear an activity tracker do indeed tend to increase activity.

7. Get Acupuncture for Aches and Pains

One reason people don’t exercise is that they have injuries that limit their movements. Solutions are to either chose activities that don’t exacerbate the injury, or –even better — to get treatment to resolve the injury and decrease or eliminate that limitation.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs can help to manage aches and pains, increase your energy, and get you moving again!

A Cautionary Tale-

Start slowly. Check with your doctor to ensure you will be able to undertake your fitness plans. Set yourself up for success and don’t try to take on too much too soon. Unless you are in the shape to handle it, you don’t want to sign up for Boot Camp at the gym, only to get so sore you can’t move for a week and give up.

Make a commitment to yourself. Take baby steps. Even baby steps are movement!


Crow Heart Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs is located in the Rockridge area of Oakland at 66th and Telegraph.

To make an appointment, email or call 510-919-5689.

Treatments are gentle, affordable, and effective!


The Case of the Angry Shoulder: The Emotional Root of Disease

At the risk of sounding completely insane, I am going to tell you the story of how I discovered the immense power of medical qi gong, that pain and disease can have an emotional root, and what I learned about being a woman. All come to you courtesy of a mysterious shoulder pain.

Taking our health for granted, and the cause of disease

When we are feeling great, we tend to take our health for granted. But break a toe, twist an ankle, or have your back go out, and suddenly it becomes apparent how wonderful it is when every body part is functioning well, and what a huge impact something seemingly so small can have on our overall wellbeing. Pain makes people grumpy! It makes the most simple task suddenly very difficult. The pain is often there for a reason. And the lessons can be life changing if we take time to listen to what it is telling us.

Aches, pains, and more serious ailments, unfortunately tend to strike when we are most stressed. Who has time to be sick? Especially when things — life — already seems overwhelming? We often have little energy to spare to take care of our own well being. But getting sick — from spraining an ankle to getting a cold —  is often the body’s way of saying “slow down and pay attention!” It can be difficult to listen to these messages when life is pressing in on us. Our habit here in the Western world is to take a pill and cover up the symptoms so we can keep going, never resolving the message that lies below the illness. Sometimes the little pills stop working and we can find no relief. It is here when many people get desperate for relief, and begin trying things they would have never considered before. Like I did when my shoulder was hurting for weeks and nothing was helping.  


Telling you my story may not convince you of anything. Sometimes it takes firsthand experience to discover the truth. It’s kind of like when my mom would say “Don’t make that face, it will stick!” I didn’t believe her and now I have wrinkles! Stressed out by life and working an unsatisfying desk job, I didn’t make much time for self care. But my body had lessons to teach me, and I wasn’t listening. I ended up with a mysterious shoulder pain that ultimately revealed some of the most important lessons I have ever learned.

The Mystery Pain

I don’t even know how I got the injury. I just woke up one morning with the feeling that I had a tight rubber band strangling the muscles and nerves in my left shoulder. The pain restricted my neck movements and caused my fingers to go numb. It was difficult to hold my head upright. Riding my bike — my main mode of transportation — became unbearable; sleeping was unbearable; and holding myself upright was exhausting. The pain wasn’t horrible, it was just very uncomfortable. And it stuck around. For weeks. And weeks. Any pain begins to wear on you, and it is a rare person who can continue to be cheerful while dealing with chronic pain. I was getting pretty grumpy and began to worry it would never go away. I started trying everything to get rid of it:

Ibuprofen didn’t work. A series of acupuncture treatments didn’t work. Chiropractic made it worse. Medical massage was excruciatingly painful, but helped for about a day. Saying it was a muscular problem, my primary care doctor said there was nothing she could do and referred me to acupuncture. And so the circle went. No one could help and I was getting grumpier.

It Was All Carol’s Idea

When you’ve tried every medical route you can think of, or can afford, and someone suggests something that sounds crazy, you are more likely to try it. 

Carol was a woman in my physics class. She was one of those older and wiser ladies who always smiled. My physics class was taught by a very unconventional teacher. This is Berkeley after all. He arranged a field trip for us to get pictures taken of our auras. 

psychic reality storefront Psychic Reality in downtown Oakland

The aura photographer claims that by resting your hands on plates which measure your electromagnetic energy, he can capture your aura with instamatic film. Whatever. It was a field trip.

aura camera thing

The place you put your hand to get your aura captured – or a prop from Lost in Space?

I brought two problems with me on that field trip. One was my shoulder pain. The other was a deeper question, a personal question I’d been mulling around, about what being a “real woman” really meant. I didn’t know it at the time, but these two problems were actually tangled up together. I have always been someone who considered herself a “human” more than a “woman.” I never put much effort into curling my hair, shopping at the mall, and painting my fingernails, and always felt a little worried that I was missing something. Approaching forty, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t maybe put some effort into this girly stuff; maybe I was missing some boat to somewhere fantastic. If I did those things, would I feel more womanly? Did I need to do those things to have a sense of personal power? What was power anyway?

tomboyA wee bit of a tomboy

Anyway, those questions had been swimming around for some time and had popped into the forefront lately. I was in fact thinking of them as I waited on the bench with the other ladies in my class. 

I was the last one in the class to get the picture of my aura taken. All my other classmates were coming out from their picture-taking session with their aura photo in hand. Their pictures were beautiful: lovely, balanced, floaty puffs of violets and yellows and oranges framing the outline of their smiling faces. There was lots of “oohing and ahhing.” There was also a lot of explaining about what the guy who took the picture said about their lovely colors. It was all good.

 Finally it was my turn and I went back into the photo area and sat down. It kind of reminded me of the DMV. Just a chair and a backdrop and a camera and a guy. I placed my palms on the electromagnetic thing and the guy looked at me through his special camera. He immediately said, “Ooooh. You’re a hider.” I thought he said that too loud. “Shhh,” I said. I am a private person and he took one look at my aura and busted out with my secret. He snapped the picture and handed it over to me. It was a mess. The even fluffy cloud of color that had surrounded everyone else’s head wasn’t there. It was blobby and misshapen with a big blur of red by my right armpit. I was so embarrassed. He looked at it and said, “You’re having trouble balancing the masculine and feminine.” I told him, yes, that was true, that I didn’t really know what it meant to be a “woman.” He told me to go home and paint my fingernails, take a bubble bath, wear a fluffy pink robe, and I would find out. Huh. I thought as I clutched my shoulder in my ratty old sweat jacket. So that is what it means to be feminine?


According to him, real women take bubble baths.

I came out of the back room and didn’t want to show my aura photo to anyone. But I trusted Carol and talked to her about what he said. I also told her I had been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman, and had been exploring the idea of power in relation to being a woman. I also said I did not feel totally comfortable with the photographer’s idea of femininity — nail polish, bubble baths, fluffy robes, pink. All that stuff was very foreign to me. I also told her that my shoulder hurt.


Me and my messy aura.

Carol told me to stop trying to answer this question; she said just ask the question and wait for the answers to come.That felt relieving to hear, but unlikely to produce results, I told her. She said, “It doesn’t hurt to try.” So I decided to try to follow her advice.

Carol also suggested that I try a session of Medical Qi Gong for my shoulder. I had barely heard of Medical Qi Gong and had no idea what it really was. But they taught it at my acupuncture school and they had a student clinic where you could get a treatment for twenty bucks. Carol seemed to be full of good and strange ideas, so I went home and set up an appointment to get “medical qi-gonged.”

Meanwhile my shoulder still hurt. Plus I didn’t know how to be a real woman. And my aura picture sucked.

She Flapped Her Arms Around

About a week later I showed up at my Medical Qi Gong appointment. I don’t remember the woman’s name who treated me. She was older and very motherly looking with a big skirt on. It seemed like she should be knitting. I briefly explained my issues to her and was hoping she could help — I wanted to integrate the masculine and feminine sides of myself and my shoulder hurt. It was refreshing to be able to make such a strange request to someone and be taken seriously. It was definitely something I could not have said at the doctor’s office. The older lady in the big skirt didn’t bat an eye at my request. 

I still had no idea what to expect from this treatment and was curious about what would happen. Desperate for some relief from my shoulder pain, I lay back on the treatment table. I watched as she began waving her hands around over my body. She wasn’t even touching me. How was this supposed to work? A voice inside me said, “This is completely ridiculous. What am I doing here? This is stupid.” I had to close my eyes because I wanted to burst out laughing. Having grown up in Cleveland, this was the epitome of weird Berkeley new age crap, I thought. 

flapping hands

Her flapping hands created an uncomfortable breeze.

To keep myself from laughing, I closed my eyes. All I could feel was that her flapping hands were creating a breeze on my body. Later, when I enrolled in the program to learn Medical Qi Gong, I would come to understand what she was doing. But for now it just seemed ridiculous.

After some time of waving her hands all over, she took a seat near my head and placed her hands on my left shoulder. I could feel her rocking back and forth, kind of like you would rock a baby. This, too, was a little uncomfortable. A little too intimate for my introverted self. I didn’t even know this woman. And she was touching me like I was her little baby. She rocked there, with her hands on my shoulder, for what seemed a very very long time.

rocking baby

I felt like a baby.

And then things started happening while she rocked and rocked my cupped shoulder.

First came the tears. Buckets and buckets of tears. A huge release of stress and sadness tied up in that shoulder had broken loose. I was shocked at how much emotion flowed out of my tear ducts. The tears didn’t stop her or change what she doing; she just kept on rocking, and I was glad of that. It was pretty embarrassing to be reduced to a blubbering idiot in front of this stranger. Why was I crying?

And then came the realization of what was behind those tears.

The Horrifying Stories

It was the newspaper. During the weeks before my shoulder went bad there were three awful stories in the news that had caught my attention. They all had a similar theme. And one by one, as the lady in the skirt rocked my shoulder, the stories came up in my mind. The first was a particularly awful story of a gang rape of a local high school student at her prom. I felt anger begin to mix in with my tears. The second was the story of an Austrian man who had locked his daughter up in a secret basement chamber for over a decade and fathered seven children with her — children who had never seen the light of day until their dungeon was discovered. I felt my anger increase as I recalled this horrifying story.


He did horrible things.

And the third was a story about a gunman who came into a church in Tennessee during a performance given by the children of the congregation. The gunman had aimed to kill those children, but a brave parishioner leapt up to protect those kids with his own body and was shot dead instead, preventing the gunman from killing those kids. The lady in the skirt continued to rock me, and my shoulder pain increased as I recalled these stories. I felt anger’s tight grip in my heart. It started to become clear to me why my shoulder had been hurting. I was mad. I didn’t know what to do those feelings. They found a place in my shoulder, and were waiting there for me to address them.

The woman stopped rocking my shoulder. I still had my eyes closed but it felt like she had positioned herself at the other end of the table. I somehow felt her palms near the bottom of my feet. She wasn’t touching me but I could sense her there.

soles of feet

An Experience That is Hard to Describe

Next was an experience that words simply cannot describe, but words are all I have to explain it. 

The anger began to melt away. At first it was just like a warm glow surrounding the entire surface of my body — a very pleasant, comforting feeling. Soon, it was as though my body was made of a bright white light and I had been plugged into a power strip that connected me to the universe. It was a power so strong that I couldn’t have imagined it; a power so strong I cannot do it justice in words. It was simply amazing. Imagine your body being made of nothing but the most benevolent ray of light. All kindness and love, but with a strength that can move mountains. I wanted to ask what was happening; it was a feeling that I imagine people have during near death experiences when they go toward the light and don’t want to return.

energy body bright

It really did feel like this.

The plugged in feeling shifted and I saw a large cave; it was dark and cold and wet. Inside the cave arose a huge snake. A cobra. It took my breath away. It was a very powerful force. An answer appeared: “This is the Divine Feminine.” She was powerful and righteous. She was not wearing a pink robe. She was not in a bubble bath. She did not have her fingernails polished. She was pure power and righteousness — willing to do whatever was needed to protect others. I wondered: “Why is the divine feminine a snake?” It surprised me, as I always had thought of snakes as a phallic symbol representing men. It didn’t make any sense to me. But there she was. And I finally understood the *real* power of the feminine. It is awesome. A strength and compassion beyond which I could ever had imagined. I had no idea. 

dark cave

(When I got home I looked up snake symbolism and read that “practically every culture has a snake in its mythology, and most often it is seen as a symbol of wisdom, healing, initiation, and secret knowledge, or it is associated with eternal life and ongoing renewal. Snake is the archetypal symbol of the Great Mother Goddess, incarnate in one of her most universal forms…a symbol of the Kundalini Shakti energy, the cosmic feminine energy that ignites and fuels our spiritual awakening process…in which positive and negative, male and female, consciousness and unconsciousness are intermingled…”) Oh. 


Many cultures have stories about a powerful serpent Goddess. I had no idea.

The rocking had stopped. The hand waving was over. My time was up. I opened my eyes. The woman who treated me looked kind of blank and innocent. She asked quietly, “Would you like to give any feedback?”

Holy shit. Feedback! I had just experienced the most intense half hour of my life. I understood where my shoulder pain originated. I understood how power and femininity belonged together. I understood how anger can get stuck in my body and make me sick. Still sobbing, I blurted out the whole experience to her, kind of surprised she didn’t already know what had happened as she had been there with me the whole time, rocking me like a baby. She seemed a bit startled by all this information, but pleased to have helped. I was floored by the whole experience. I walked out of there prouder than ever to be a woman, now that I understood what a gift it is. Women are strong. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is our place to help stop all this violence. We need to speak up. And we don’t need painted nails and bubble baths to do (though this last year, I have discovered the power of a bubble bath).

All that had happened, but my shoulder still hurt. However, within a week the problem dissolved. I hardly noticed. It just went away.

It Gets Weirder

This story gets weirder, if that’s possible. The day after the Medical Qi Gong experience I went to work at my desk job. A co-worker came into my office in the morning with a card. She was asking all of us to sign this card for Brian’s dad. Brian was a new guy at work. I asked, “What happened to Brian’s dad?” Well, she explained, he was at church in Tennessee when a gunman burst in to kill the children on stage. Brian’s dad leapt from the audience to protect those children on stage and was shot to death.

Unfortunately, all I could think to say was “Holy crap.” I was stunned. 

The next semester at school I decided to enroll in the Medical Qi Gong program. 

qi gong cert

Absolutely impressed by my experience, I completed the Medical Qi Gong training.

In the six years that I have been practicing Medical Qi Gong I have had some extraordinary experiences and have seen time and again the emotional root of patients’ diseases. Sometimes the realization comes from something they experience while on the table, and sometimes it comes from something I “see” in them (while waving my hands around and touching them on the shoulder!). I tend to reserve this method of treatment for cases when nothing else seems to help and the acupuncture treatments aren’t getting their usual effect. Once the root of the disease is revealed, the problem often resolves itself quickly.

The Seven Emotions in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine there is a list of the causes of disease that we are taught over and over again. Prominently featured in this list are the “seven emotions.”  The Eastern medical system has understood this for a long time — stuck emotions can cause disease and disease can lead to stuck emotions. In a Chinese medical text written over 2,000 years ago, it is said that there are seven emotions that can impair organ systems in the body (the emotions are: anger, worry, grief, fear, anxiety, fright, and joy/mania). We are trained in detecting how these emotions affect the organ systems, and how rebalancing energy through acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qi gong can help release or resolve these emotions. It is also written by the sages that emotions are to be felt, but then let go of. It is the holding of the emotion that can make someone sick.


The yin organs have both positive and negative emotions associated with them, depending on their state of health.

Western Biomedical Research on Emotions as a Cause of Disease

In the West, scientists have recently been exploring this idea as well – the impact of emotions on health – and certain pockets of the medical community are beginning to “prove” this ancient Eastern idea to be true.


Even in the West, we admit emotions can cause disease!

Harvard School of Public Health has published several studies on this topic. They note:

A vast scientific literature has detailed how negative emotions harm the body. Serious, sustained stress or fear can alter biological systems in a way that, over time, adds up to ‘wear and tear’ and, eventually, illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic anger and anxiety can disrupt cardiac function by changing the heart’s electrical stability, hastening atherosclerosis, and increasing systemic inflammation.”

Harvard researcher Jack Shonkoff explains that “early childhood ‘toxic stress’ —the sustained activation of the body’s stress response system resulting from such early life experiences as chronic neglect, exposure to violence, or living alone with a parent suffering severe mental illness—has harmful effects on the brain and other organ systems. Among these effects is a hair-trigger physiological response to stress, which can lead to a faster heart rate, higher blood pressure, and a jump in stress hormones.”

Another Harvard researcher, Laura Kubzansky, has been studying the impact of emotions on health. She states that, “It looks like there is a benefit of positive mental health that goes beyond the fact that you’re not depressed. What that is is still a mystery. But when we understand the set of processes involved, we will have much more insight into how health works.” Some results from her studies conclude that:

  • Optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
  • Children who are able to stay focused on a task and have a more positive outlook at age 7 report better general health and fewer illnesses 30 years later.
  • Participants who reported fewer social ties at the beginning of the survey were more than twice as likely to die over the nine-year follow-up period, an effect unrelated to behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and physical activity. Social ties included marriage, contact with friends and relatives, organizational and church membership.
  • Kubzansky concedes that psychological states such as anxiety or depression—or happiness and optimism—are forged by both nature and nurture. “They are 40–50 percent heritable, which means you may be born with the genetic predisposition. But this also suggests there is a lot of room to maneuver.”
  • Kubzansky states, “My guess is that many of the people who are chronically distressed never figured out how to come back from a bad experience, focus on something different, or change their perspective.” And, “Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment,” she says, “to find a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens.”

In the 1990s the Federal Center for Disease Control studied over 17,000 patients of a large health plan to assess the link between emotional experience and adult health. Some of their findings:

  • Those who had experienced an adverse childhood experience [abuse or neglect] were between 4 and 50 times more likely to have an adverse health condition or disease as an adult. The adverse health outcomes covered a surprisingly wide range, including heart disease, fractures, diabetes, obesity, alcoholism, and more.
  • Emotional vitality and emotional balance appear to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. The protective effect was distinct and measurable, even when taking into account such wholesome behaviors as not smoking and regular exercise.
  • A summary of the research goes so far as to say “State of Mind = State of Body.”
  • “The truth is that all emotional experience affects our health, whether positive or negative, and whether it occurs in the past or the present. But negative experiences appear to have more lasting health effects, perhaps because we don’t deal with them.”
  • The Center for Disease Control estimates that 90% of all visits to the doctor are stress-related, and there are hundreds of medical studies linking stress to a host of diseases. 

Managing Emotions

Traditional Chinese Medicine — acupuncture, herbs, medical qi gong, etc. — is just one treatment modality that can help someone to transform unhealthy emotional states and rebalance the body. Combined with good lifestyle habits, regular exercise, connections to your community, family, friends, as well as healthy eating, and therapy from a licensed psychotherapist, you may find well being like you’ve never known it before.

Links to Learn More

Western research into the Biology of Emotions:

Chinese Medicine and Emotions:

Medical Qi Gong:


Please visit our website for more information

Reach us by email or phone to schedule an appointment or receive a free 15 minute phone consultation.


A Case of the Presidential Inauguration and Terrible Diarrhea (or “The Concept of Energy in Chinese Medicine”)

I’ve heard many testimonials from friends, patients, and colleagues about their profound healing experiences with Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The stories usually go like this:  A debilitating pain or condition was taking over their lives (often physical pain or mysterious symptoms that western medicine had no explanation for); they had run out of options with western medicine–nothing was working to relieve them; and out of desperation they visited an acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine did the trick — it helped them.


Many acupuncturists often tell of their own life-changing experiences on their websites as a testimonial to the power of the medicine. I have resisted telling my story because it’s sort of embarrassing.

I too had a transformative and amazing experience that left me in total awe and wonder at the effects of the medicine. I wish my experience was something a little less embarrassing than a case of intractable diarrhea. But here’s my story — and yes it’s a poop story but it is also the experience that proved to me that “energy” medicine is real and that Chinese Medicine practitioners are excellent diagnosticians!

In 2009 my husband and I were chaperones on a high school trip to the Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. We spent several days outside in the freezing cold going to museums, the inauguration, and landmarks around D.C., etc., with hot packs in our shoes and gloves, trying to keep ourselves warm by the glow of the excitement of millions of people.


After a wonderful — but very cold — trip, I returned home and got sick. Basically, to be blunt, I had the worst diarrhea of my life for days. Anything I ate — even a teaspoon of apple sauce — immediately went right through me. By day four, in the middle of the night, I collapsed on the floor shivering, exhausted, dehydrated, and with a body temperature of 95.7. My husband picked me up and took me to the emergency room.


In the emergency room I was given a bag of IV fluids which is one of the miracles of modern medicine. The fluids helped me to feel immediately better. But the diarrhea did not stop. The doctor ran a number of tests trying to find an answer, but found nothing abnormal in the stool samples except blood. He told me the diarrhea was so bad, and I had nothing left inside, that the trauma to my intestines was causing bleeding. He wanted to give me antibiotics just to be safe  — even though there was no sign of infection — and he wanted to do a complete scope of my digestive tract, which didn’t sound fun at all. Feeling much better with the fluids in me, I convinced my husband to take me home.


The following day the diarrhea got worse and I was alarmed to find there was now blood in my urine. I called my primary care doctor and left a message about my new symptom. She returned my call and insisted I return to the emergency room, said something was truly wrong, and with panic in her voice admitted she had no idea what it could be.

By the time of my illness I had been in Chinese Medicine school for less than a year. It occurred to me that if I was studying this medicine, perhaps I should see if it could help me. The idea of going back to the hospital did not excite me (they wanted to admit me), and the $4,000 ER visit had been kind of a set back. I was desperate and figured I had nothing to lose.


I went to the student clinic at my school that afternoon. Sitting in the waiting area one of my teachers walked through and stopped to ask how I was feeling. I burst into tears and told her it had been nearly a week having diarrhea and now there was also blood in my urine. The doctors could find nothing and I was frightened. She calmly took my hand and said, “Don’t worry. I know what’s wrong with you.”

She took me back into the clinic and used two needles on my lower legs. She lit a moxibustion stick and spent about fifteen minutes holding it over my abdomen. She explained that from a Chinese Medicine perspective I had started with a weakened digestive system, and damaged it further being in the extreme cold while in Washington D.C. A lack of internal digestive fires can lead to diarrhea as well as bleeding. This is why the Emergency Room could find no evidence of a pathogen — there was none, except for the cold.


I went home after the treatment to find the diarrhea was gone. The blood in my urine was also gone. Immediately. The diarrhea I had had for seven days stopped just like that. I followed my teacher’s advice and began taking an herbal formula for digestion and was able to keep in the foods she recommended.

I sat with my dog on my front porch in the Bay Area sunshine that day and I wondered, “How in the heck did that work? All she did was wave a hot herbal stick over my belly and put two needles in my legs…and it cost me about $30.”


The emergency room and my primary care doctor had no idea what was wrong with me, since nothing was found on my tests. My teacher, within five minutes of talking to me, learning I had been in the extreme cold and knowing my symptoms, knew exactly what was wrong. And her treatment worked instantly. Sitting there smiling in the sunshine, no longer running to the bathroom, it struck me — this “energy” thing they keep talking about at school is real. This medicine works! What an amazing revelation to have at the beginning of my studies.

Not every single experience with Chinese Medicine is so profound, but there are plenty of these stories out there. There are also some scientific “explanations” from western medicine about how / why acupuncture works.

The Concept  of Energy

People who grew up in a culture where acupuncture was not commonly practiced sometimes find the idea of “energy channels” running through the body hard to swallow. We tend to believe only in what we can see. And if you can’t see it, it surely doesn’t exist! 


It’s strange that the idea of energy channels is so hard to swallow – we power our homes with “invisible” energy that comes through wires into our walls, the signals we receive on our radios are not visible, we can connect to the internet “wirelessly” capturing a signal. 

As far as the body is concerned, biomedicine has tests that measure electrical conductivity in our hearts and brains (EKGs and EEGs) – so why so difficult to believe we have energy channels running through our bodies, conducting “qi” that connects our organs to points all over our bodies? 


Some Scientific Experiments on the Effect and Nature of Acupuncture Points

In the demand for “evidence” for how acupuncture works, scientific trials have been conducted using modern imaging equipment such as “functional magnetic resonance imaging” (fMRIs) and “high temporal-resolution magnetoencephalography” (MEGs). 

Following needling of different acupuncture points, it has been seen that these acupuncture points activate relevant areas in the brain, which in turn initiate a cascade of chemical signals that regulate various systems in the body. 


For example, a point located on the lower leg “Gallbladder 34,” has been proven to light up beneficial regions in the brains of Parkinson’s patients; the much used point “Stomach 36,” has been shown activate “the multiple brain regions of the ‘splanchnic brain’ (neurons in the organs) and thus relieve pain.” 

Furthermore, studies also compared the effects of identified acupuncture points with random “sham” points using high-resolution MEG imaging technology. These studies have revealed that while the real acupuncture points displayed marked effects in the brain, the sham points did not. 

These experiments make sense from an anatomical point of view as well. Acupuncture points have been found to be “neurovascular nodes.” These nodes contain a concentrated group of blood vessels, sensory nerves and fibers, lymphatic vessels, and mast cells and ensure proper flow of blood, glucose, and oxygen through the vascular system.

The whole body is an interconnected system. Whether you consider it a “neurovascular node” or an acupuncture point, it makes sense that needling a point on the leg can effect a chemical in the brain which in turn can stimulate the body to rebalance itself. And to get rid of a case of intractable diarrhea!


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Reach us by email or phone to schedule an appointment or receive a free 15 minute phone consultation.


Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs – Do They Really Work? Part I: Chinese Medicine, Stress, and Self-Healing


Chinese Medicine claims it can treat most any health problem from insomnia, depression and sprained ankles to boils, constipation and infertility. How is it possible that sticking hair-thin needles into seemingly random points on the body and prescribing  something as safe and natural as an “herb” can help propel an individual toward health?




This blog post is the first in a series that provides one view on how Chinese Medicine works, and why it is so effective. I refer to some western biomedical explanations and research studies as guide posts.

I begin with the topic of stress–one of the most all pervasive maladies of our time and something that Chinese Medicine is so helpful at alleviating.

First, Why Lowering Stress is So Important & The Effect of Acupuncture:

The consequences of chronic stress are serious. Chronically stressed individuals can develop high blood pressure, cardiac disease, poor immune system functioning, digestive issues, poor sleep, reduced fertility, anxiety, muscle pain, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, relationship troubles…the list goes on and on. In fact, some research attributes chronic stress as the cause of nearly seventy percent of all diseases. (Check out this article for a more comprehensive list of stress-related conditions.)

During an acupuncture treatment, most people fall into a state of deep relaxation. A patient might fall asleep, and some joke that they come to acupuncture just for a nap. But, while naps are great — especially in our sleep deprived society — so much more is happening at the prompting of a few needles.

A study at Georgetown University, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, measured stress hormones following acupuncture. They found that acupuncture blocks the hormones associated with chronic and acute stress.

A growing body of evidence also supports the notion that acupuncture has a protective effect against the stress response following treatment — it will help you to manage day to day stressors less in that “fight or flight” state and more in a space of calm, grounded wellbeing that helps to keep your body healthy. Without so much stress, your immune system works better!



That said, if all acupuncture did was reduce the stress response — which it has been proven to do — the treatment would be worth it for that alone!

But that is not all that acupuncture does.


No Medicine on the Needles — The “Placebo Effect” and “Self Healing”

I recently read that some patients may think there is medicine on the needles and that is their explanation for how acupuncture works — an outside substance is introduced into the body to cure it. I had never considered that possibility before — that a patient might think we are injecting them with something — until the very next day, after I’d read that, a patient new to acupuncture asked me the very same question! “Is there medicine on the needles?” he wanted to know when his chronic knee pain disappeared after one treatment.

No, there is not medicine on the needles; the medicine is in your body. 

The concept of self-healing seems to cause some discomfort in the biomedical community. They have a term for self-healing — they call it “the placebo effect.” But I call the “placebo effect” something different – self-healing.

Why should self-healing such a revolutionary concept? The body is so amazing! We are equipped to self heal in many commonly accepted instances. Can you imagine what we would look like if we didn’t have the power to heal ourselves from cuts, scraps, bruises, and broken bones!? How would we feel if we couldn’t fight off all the colds and flus we’ve ever had? What would happen if we could not get over food poisoning or a hangover? We wouldn’t last very long and we certainly would not look very good! Sure, there are medicines (and foods!) that can help us to heal from these ailments more quickly, but it is the body that ultimately brings us back to a state of health. One big aspect of this self-healing “magic” is the immune system.



(Click here to read a review of seven clinical trials that show the positive impact of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.)

Chinese Medicine acknowledges the self healing mechanisms of the body and promotes those mechanisms. Any honest practitioner will tell you that they are not actually healing you — we are simply nudging your body’s natural abilities to heal itself. In cases where the body is too weakened, or where there is a deeply rooted long-term illness, beyond our body’s natural capacity to heal, we often introduce herbal remedies to give the patient extra resources to bring itself back to homeostasis.

So how are the needles actually working? And what’s all this talk about “energy”? The next entry of the Crow Heart Acupuncture blog will address the topic of “energy” — an essential concept in Chinese Medicine. Is “energy” 
real, or just new age garbage?


Still Not Convinced? Don’t Knock it Til You Try It!

There are many choices of acupuncturists available, from community acupuncture to the spa-like treatments at what some call “boutique” acupuncture clinics. Crow Heart Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs is a General Practice that provides in-depth, individualized treatments at a reasonable price. We believe health is everyone’s right and provide treatments at a reduced rate for certain populations who serve the public and are under an inordinate amount of stress: fire fighters, police officers, paramedics, and public school teachers. 


Please visit our website for more information


Reach us by email or phone to schedule an appointment or receive a free 15 minute phone consultation.



Spring is Here! (Then Why Do I Feel So Grumpy?)

It’s beautiful outside in the Bay Area. So why do so many of us feel so grumpy?

Liver Man

Today technically marks the first day of spring.

As we’ve seen this year, all around the country there has been some unusual weather — the East Coast had one of the worst winters on record, while the Bay Area has had warmer winter weather than we get most summers!

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These odd patterns are confusing to our bodies and makes paying attention to the seasons, and their effect on our minds and bodies, even more important.

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Part of what makes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so effective is that at its core it still recognizes that humans are part of nature and follow the natural cycles — just like plants and other animals. In TCM we continually take note of the seasons and the weather, and the effect they may be having on our health and sense of well being.


In winter many plants and animals go dormant or hibernate. It is important to conserve energy during winter, in order to recharge ourselves for the longer days of spring and summer. In our world today, we typically don’t tone down our activities much during the winter – ideally the work day would shorten, our social would lives quiet down, and we would spend more time sleeping and resting.

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Since we did not have much of a winter this year, the signal to draw inward and hibernate was not very strong; the need for rest and slowing down was likely ignored — how can you hibernate when the sun is shining!


Now that spring has sprung, those of us who did not recharge ourselves during winter may struggle with energy and mood. In springtime, mood can often be a problem anyway.

The spring is all about movement and growth. Look to the plants — the trees are growing back their leaves, flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and it’s time to plant the garden. There can be so much spring energy in our bodies we are not sure what to do with it. What happens when you want to move but feel constricted? It’s very frustrating!

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According to TCM, it’s Liver Time!

What is Liver Time?

The organ, in Chinese Medicine philosophy, that is associated with the spring is the Liver. The liver is responsible for the free flow of energy (or “qi”) in the body. Without smooth flow, there is frustration. Therefore, the negative emotion associated with the liver is anger (the flip side of this– if all is well–is compassion). So, in the spring amidst the longer days and sunshine, we may be wondering why we feel so frustrated, angry, or stuck. Grrr!

If you want to know what it looks like to be ruled by your “liver,” think of baby. It is said that of all the TCM organ systems, the most developed in a baby is the liver. Fussy, crying, moving around…sometimes there is just nothing that can calm them.

How to Calm the Liver:

What can you do to release yourself from the grumpy energy of the Liver? Move it! And soothe it.

*Stretch!: Take some yoga classes, tai chi, qi gong, or just wake up in the morning and do some stretches in your house for fifteen minutes.

*Exercise: Go for a walk, a run, plant a garden, get to the gym, ride your bike, do some push ups.

*Eat greens: The color associated with the liver, and with spring, is green. Add more leafy greens to your diet – dandelion greens and sprouts are particularly good to eat at this time of year. Milk thistle tea is also a good choice.

*Eat sour: Add some apple cider vinegar to your salad, add lemon slices to your water, have a dill pickle, eat some plain yogurt. (Sour is flavor of the liver and it moves the energy.)

*Get some acupuncture!: Acupuncture can help move this stuck energy, reduce your stress levels, and nourish you if you did not get enough downtime during the winter. This way you can enjoy the spring time more!

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But I’m Grumpy ALL the Time (or know someone who is)!

What if you feel grumpy all the time–not just in the spring? There are two good possibilities– the first is that your “Liver” (in the TCM sense of the word) needs some attention. Acupuncture and herbs can really help! The second is that you may also be a “Wood” type personality. Each person has a predominant personality associated with an element – Wood, Fire, Earth, Air, or Water. And each element is associated with an organ. Wood is the element of the spring and of the liver.

Are you a Liver Type?

Wood types (liver types) are pioneers. They love adventure, are independent, and are our reformers, revolutionaries and innovators.They are action-oriented individuals. Wood types like to be the very best, the one and only, and will work with great determination to this end. Like any trait, there are positives and negatives. Wood types, when out of balance, tend to be impatient, intolerant, volatile, easy to anger. They often suffer from headaches, muscle spasms, high blood pressure, inflammatory nerve conditions, and migrating pains. They tend to abuse sedatives and stimulants in order to calm themselves or to provide the energy they need to be the best. For wood types who out of balance, spring can be a challenging time (for them and for the people around them!).

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Periodic acupuncture treatments and herbal remedies will be effective in rebalancing that energy.

The moral of the story here is that it can be quite normal to feel grumpy in the spring. But we have tools to help soothe the beast so you can enjoy the sunshine and growth and start smiling again.

Make an appointment today!

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Crow Heart Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs is located in the Rockridge area of Oakland at 66th and Telegraph. To make an appointment, email or call 510-919-5689. Treatments are gentle, affordable, and effective!