About Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic

Lindsey Thompson is Nationally Board-Certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. She founded the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in 2013 with the goal of bringing the holistic approach of eastern medicine to all ages. The word 'family' is in the title of our clinic because she works with patients from birth onward. Lindsey holds a master's degree in Acupuncture in Oriental Medicine with extensive training in pain management, women's health and fertility, addressing digestion, addressing anxiety, depression, and PTSD, Chinese medical nutrition, and pediatric treatments. In 2016 she created the Ancient Roots Nutrition educational video series to help individuals better learn how to use food as medicine to support their healthcare goals, and to understand the theory of acupuncture and eastern medicine a little bit better. Lindsey is actively invested in helping patients reach their healthcare goals and understanding the process along the way. Lindsey has training in a variety of styles of acupuncture techniques, and combines these treatments with moxibustion, gua sha, cupping therapy, herbal medicine, and nutrition depending on the needs of each individual patient. Pediatric patients are often treated with a non-needling techniques of teishin work (a little, soft ended metal wand) and pediatric tuina (a gentle massage technique). Parents are often taught massage techniques to do at home to further support our work. If you would like to learn more about Lindsey and the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic please check out our website and classes.

Top Specialties

Pain Management

Conditions Treated

Back Pain
Blood Pressure
Chronic Fatigue
Common Cold
Muscle Aches
Natural Healing
Neck Pain
Shoulder Pain
Sleep Disorders
Spinal Problems
Sports Medicine
Women's Health

Nearby Areas


Waitsburg, WA, 99361

Milton-Freewater, Oregon, 97862

Richland, WA, 99352

College Place, WA, 99324

License Information

License No

License State

License Expiration


Board Certification

Hospital Practice

School most recently graduated
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

Year Graduated

Year I Began Practice

Additional Credentials & Certificates

International Cupping Therapy Association Cupping Training

My Acupuncture Blog


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One of the things I wish we talked about more openly is that many women struggle with postpartum depression. It is common. I hope that we can all agree that there is no shame in experiencing it. There are many ways to get help with postpartum depression.

In acupuncture, there are a few indicators pre-delivery that could signal an increased risk for postpartum depression. If certain things occur during the birth, a mother will again be more likely to experience postpartum depression. Overall, postpartum depression is mostly related to fatigue in a system or deficiency of blood, or blood and qi. We mostly have to work at strengthening the body with acupuncture, strategic food use, and sometimes herbs.

Pre Delivery indicators:
Typically, indicators for a higher risk of postpartum depression pre delivery relate to one of three main areas.

1) Blood deficiency symptoms pre-pregnancy. Symptoms of pre-pregnancy blood deficiency are anemia, difficulty falling asleep, heavy menstrual cycle, possible feelings of anxiety or depression.

2) Difficulty eating enough food throughout your pregnancy. If you struggle with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, it makes it difficult to eat enough each day. When a pregnant woman doesn’t get enough calories and nutrients in a day, your body will opt to protect the pregnancy at all cost and feed the baby from many of your reserves. We can tolerate this for a few days or weeks, as long as we can eat quality food soon afterwards. However, with long term morning sickness, it ends up depleting the mother significantly more than a pregnancy that only had morning sickness in the first trimester.

The same holds true for mothers that simply struggle to eat enough calories in general, or struggle to eat enough whole foods throughout their pregnancy. Remember it is important to get about 340 extra calories from whole foods in the 2nd trimester, and 450 extra calories from whole foods in the 3rd trimester. You often don’t need any extra calorie during the first trimester. If you aim to get most of your calories from a combination of vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts, animal or vegetable protein that is minimally processed, you typically don’t need to worry about getting enough nutrients. If your cravings keep you going back to refined, processed foods like pastries, pasta, and mostly simple carbohydrates, you may be missing many of the nutrients you and your baby need to build adequate qi and blood for both of you. This will mimic the above example of struggling to eat, and your body will deplete your (the mother’s) qi and blood reserves to make sure the baby has the best stuff to grow from.

3) If this is not the first pregnancy, history of postpartum depression, complications with previous delivery, can be indicators. For multiple pregnancies, a history of postpartum depression can indicate a higher risk for future postpartum depression, especially if there was a larger amount of blood loss during previous deliveries. It is always useful to mention a history of postpartum depression when working with an acupuncturist.

What to do:

Your acupuncturist can check your pulses throughout your prenatal care to determine if you run the risk of developing postpartum depression from pre-delivery causes. They will then help create a strategy with nutrition, acupuncture, and herbs to avoid postpartum depression from developing, or to help you recover from it more quickly.

You can read our general guidelines for Postpartum Nutrition here.

Delivery Complications That relate to Postpartum Depression
Delivery can be unpredictable and certain experiences during delivery can set your body up to have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.

1) More than average blood loss. Every birth involves a certain amount of blood loss, however if you have a higher than average amount of blood loss, then you will be more at risk of developing postpartum depression.

2) Uterine infection post-delivery. Internal infection requires that your body that is already fatigued from growing a small human, and giving birth to continue to expend resources to fight off the infection. Essentially, this adds a few more miles to your already completed marathon, and will deplete your body as it fights off infection.

What to do:

In the case of both above average blood loss and uterine infection, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutrition will play a large role in helping your body recover from the extra workload that your body had to complete. We have points that help generate blood, build energy, and strengthen the systems involved in gestation and birth. If you only experienced above average blood loss, a simple herbal formula to help your body generate blood, plus strengthening acupuncture, and some key components of postpartum nutrition will quickly give your body the energy it needs to focus on enjoying having your newborn in the world.

If you had infection, then herbs may have a slightly different goal of both strengthening the qi and blood of the body, but also aiding in fighting off infection or healing the tissues of the uterus post-antibiotic therapy.

For both, follow our Postpartum Nutrition guidelines here.

In conclusion, postpartum depression is common. It can also be predictable and treated with quick results using Chinese medicine paired with nutrition. Please don’t hesitate to contact an acupuncturist in your area if you are experiencing postpartum depression, or if you are concerned that you might after you give birth.

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Nutritional Support for Vegetarians with Blood Deficiency or Anemia

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Blood deficiency in Chinese medicine may or may not mean anemia. To put it another way, blood deficiency can show up when the blood isn’t as vital as we would like it to be. This occurs before someone manifests anemia. Anemia is a more advanced case of blood deficiency in TCM.

Blood deficiency often has symptoms of fatigue, a tendency to easily develop tendonitis or other wandering joint pains, suffer from diffuse headaches, tight neck and shoulders, and feeling easily frustrated or overwhelmed. If there is also a spleen and stomach qi deficiency, then individuals may bruise easily and find themselves often stuck in ruminating thoughts that cause them to worry or feel anxious. Female patients may have heavy mense. In severe cases, individuals may see brittle nails, and experience hair loss.

Insomnia- especially trouble falling asleep– is also a common symptom.

In TCM, the pattern of blood deficiency is typically liver blood deficiency. There may be some underlying spleen and stomach qi deficiency that is inhibiting the proper absorption of nutrients from food. If the building blocks for creating blood are not being absorbed, then it is pretty challenging for the body to make blood.

It is important to note that the sensations of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm from liver blood deficiency can feel quite debilitating at times. If you have liver blood deficiency, there is a real physiologic reason that you feel this way. Sometimes having an idea why we feel the way we do, can help us sit with the uncomfortable emotions or simply love ourselves a little bit more during the process.

The good news?
There is quite a bit that we can do to support and even overcome blood deficiency with nutrition based on Chinese medicine. Sometimes if it is severe or has been going on for many years, it is also helpful to seek out the care of an acupuncturists to pair with your home-based nutritional focus.

While anyone can develop blood deficiency, this post is focused on treating blood deficiency with a vegetarian or vegan diet, since it is often a little more challenge for vegetarians and vegans to address blood deficiency. It often involves a little more leg work in food combining.

From a Chinese medical nutrition angle we look at foods that support the liver and foods that look like blood to address liver blood deficiency.

Fresh beet on wooden background
Liver supporting foods:
Foods that naturally support liver blood are:

Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, swiss chard kale, collard greens, mustard greens, sorel, shiso, nettles, beet greens)
Other green vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts
Iron rich foods
It is also important to drink mushroom broth almost daily. 1/2-1 cup of broth daily can help build the nutrients for healthy liver blood

Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame, chia and pumpkin seeds, isolated on white background
Iron rich vegetarian foods:

Legumes– especially black eyed peas, chickpeas (these have the most), next are white beans, kidney beans, soy beans (tofu), and lentils. Peas and all other beans do have good sources of iron.

Sesame seeds (black sesame seeds have 15% more iron than regular white ones).

Other seeds: hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds

Nuts like cashews and almonds

Dark green vegetables (overlaps with the liver supporting foods)

Mushrooms: oyster and white mushrooms contain good levels of iron in a one cup serving.

Whole grains: amaranth, oats, spelt, and quinoa contain good amounts of iron

Improving Iron Absorption is important for Vegetarians and Vegans
To improve iron absorption, it is important to eat iron rich foods combined with vitamin C. Many of the vegetables that contain iron, also contain vitamin C. An easy way to make sure you are pairing iron foods with Vitamin C is to pair it with fresh tomatoes or tomato paste, and/or squeeze citrus over your meal.

Eating foods high in lysine also helps iron absorption. Legumes and quinoa are good examples of foods high in lysine. These not only contain iron, but they also contain lysine. It’s a win win.

Avoid eating iron rich foods with coffee or tea at meals. Drinking coffee and tea with food can decrease plant based iron absorption by 50-60%.

Finally, cooking in cast-iron can help imbue your meals with iron.

Ways to support the Stomach and Spleen/Pancreas
Root vegetables and orange/yellow produce support the Stomach and spleen/pancreas.

Eating consistently during the day also helps strengthen these organs. The stomach likes to be a creature of habit. Eating something for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a couple healthy snacks throughout the day can fortify the stomach. If you don’t have an appetite in the morning, that is actually one of the first signs of deficiency in the stomach, spleen/pancreas organs. Once these organs become more robust, you’ll start to feel hungry within 30 minutes of waking. In the meantime, try to eat something small within the first hour of waking to help your digestive system get back on track. Good options are whole grain toast or GF bread with nut butter or mashed avocado, or a chia pudding with poached fruit (can be made the night before), or a smoothie made with half fruit, half vegetables and protein powder.

Finally, eating consistently also makes sure that you have the fuel for your body to meet all the energetic demands placed upon it throughout the day.

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Recovering from injury

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Whether you consider yourself an athlete or just a proud user of your human body, getting injured is the pits! Sometimes even the smallest roll of the ankle can become a longer term nuisance. Chinese medicine has wonderful tools to get you back in the game of sport or game of life. The earlier you treat, the better the results.

Meanwhile, there are a few things to keep in mind for home care, or have as general knowledge when it comes to keeping your wonderful body functioning well.

General rules

-Be sure to get an assessment, depending on the severity of the injury this may be from a allopathic medicine specialist or PCP, your acupuncturist, chiropractor, or other trained professional.

-Be careful to not take “minor” muscle strains as insignificant. These can later develop significant adhesions, or allow other injuries of the ligaments, tendons or joints to take place due to the vulnerability of the area.

-Intervene early and be consistent with your treatments. Use herbal liniments, arnica or other external applications to begin intervention right away after injury. Get to your acupuncturist, massage therapist, or other preferred provider. Ask your provider what you can do at home to aid in recovery.

Dietary tips for recovery:

-Bone broth. Know it, love it, drink it daily.

-Golden paste: sounds exotic right? It’s a lovely mix of the highly touted anti-inflammatory turmeric paste, coconut oil, and fresh black pepper made into a paste that can be used in tea, to coat fish, or other creative culinary adventures. (Note: when in doubt, especially if you are taking blood thinners, ask your medical provider about taking supplements)

-Avoiding chilled foods and beverages. The Spleen rules the flesh, muscles, as well as making food into nutrients. The Spleen is injured by over-consumption of raw, chilled, or greasy foods. If you’re a big fan of salads, try swapping that for steamed or roasted vegetables.

-Avoid fried, fatty foods. You want your digestion to properly assimilate and nourish your injured area. Fried and greasy foods (this include difficult to digest foods like cheese, commercial dairy products, processed meat products) will clog up your digestion.

-Enjoy loads of nutrient dense foods! Vegetables are your best friends here.

Other effective tools

-External herbal treatments. We have a variety available at the clinic which address different kinds of injuries. External herbal liniments and patches are a wonderful addition to your medicine cabinet, as the sooner and more consistently you use them, the better your results. Here’s a few key ones we use at Thompson Family Acupuncture:

Zheng Gu Shui spray- penetrates deep into the joints for pain relief related to arthritis, sprains and strains, and other minor ailments
Wu Yang plasters (patches you stick onto your skin) – for stubborn knotted muscles, and tension headaches (by placing on the neck, or upper back where your tight spots are)
Circulate balm- improves circulation to help with neuropathy, circulation issues, and osteoarthritis in the hands or feet that gets worse with cold
Moxa warming packs – non-chemical warming packs that use moxa (mugwort herb) and charcoal to keep you warm in the winter. Great for low back pain, menstrual cramps, and just keeping your core warm during outdoor activities.
Cheers to a safe and joyful holiday season enjoying the activities you love. So, go sledding, enjoy epic post-feast walks with your family, and build snowmen. If you pull a hammy while chasing your kids across the icy tundra, remember acupuncture, herbs and therapeutic exercise will get you back to doing the things you love.

If you’re interested in further information about how Chinese medicine is used in sports medicine and maintaining optimum health, check out A Tooth From The Tiger’s Mouth by Tom Bisio.

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Chinese Herbal Medicine 101

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I’m often asked about the safety, efficacy, and benefit of using Chinese herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine maintains a historical longevity beyond most practices of herbal medicine. Chinese herbalism is older than the practice of acupuncture–over 2000 years. It is also one of the few herbal practices that did not receive persecution until the Cultural Revolution between 1966-1976. That means herbal medicine was able to be honed and perfected in China with formulas being finely crafted and fine-tuned for over 2000 years. The same cannot be said for Europe or the Americas. In Europe and the Americas, many of the keepers of herbal knowledge while once respected, fell under the suspicion of witchcraft much earlier in history than the Cultural Revolution in China. Persecution and the ravages of colonialism similarly led to many of the herbal traditions across the globe being lost or halted in history.

During the Cultural Revolution, many family traditions of Chinese medicine -including acupuncture, herbs, cupping, and scraping techniques, were outlawed in China. Some of the practitioners of these outlawed practices fled to Europe and the United States to keep their medical knowledge alive, while other family traditions were lost to persecution.

While recently there have been some salacious articles in the media that focus on inhumane practices against animals and poaching horns of endangered species for Chinese herbal medicine, these are not practices supported by licensed acupuncturists in the western world. These articles have unfortunately focused on shock value as opposed to focusing on the depth, breadth, and effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine. We may chose to tackle some of those articles in depth in future blog posts.

It is important to note that all herbal medicine is medicine. Simply because something is naturally derived from a plant or mineral, does not make it safe in any dosage or use. We can overdose on natural minerals and vitamins. Alternatively, many of our modern medicines are originally derived from natural substances, even if they are now crafted in a lab. That is why it is important to work with a licensed and trained herbalist.

Chinese herbs, like any other supplement or medication, are safe when appropriately prescribed. For example taking over the counter IBUprofen is generally considered safe and effective for most people, however taking too much of it can cause serious side effects. There are some people with certain medical conditions who shouldn’t take IBUprofen at all. Chinese herbs are similar. When prescribed by a licensed herbalist who knows the correct usage and dose, they are very safe for patients. Acupuncturists with a MAcOM degree– Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, are highly trained in herbal medicine and, like with the IBUprofen example, which herbs should not be used with certain medical conditions or other medications. That is part of what the OM in MAcOM represents.

If a patient does experience side effects from herbs they are generally mild, such as minor bloating, gas or changes in bowel movements. These can typically be ameliorated easily with a slight change in the formula. Occasionally, patients may experience stronger side effects from herbal medication, and often your practitioner will warn you about them before you head home with your herbs. Some herbs are known for having stronger potential side effects either by themselves or in conjunction with certain medications, again your acupuncturists will go over these with you before you take your first herbal formula. Just like with pharmaceuticals and your doctor, always bring up any side effects with your prescribing practitioner as they can usually ameliorate these symptoms or advise you whether or not to keep taking your formula.

Why Use Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Since Chinese herbal medicine is older than acupuncture, there is a rich history of treating nearly any ailment or disease process with it. Many conditions respond better or faster with the combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine.

Key ailments that respond faster with herbal medicine:

Physical pain
Women’s health – from painful menses, heavy or light menses, PCOS, fibromyalgia, infertility, morning sickness, postpartum depression, to perimenopause symptoms
Digestion ailments – acid reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis
Feelings of anxiety or depression
Migraines and frequent tension headaches
Just like with the practice of acupuncture, your practitioner will focus on trying to identify your unique pattern that is the underlying cause of your ailment. The goal of herbal medicine is to treat both the root cause of your condition, and to alleviate symptoms, such as pain. The herbs provide a daily reinforcement to acupuncture treatment where both are working to provide your body with the ability to heal itself. This alleviates the symptoms and the cause.

One of the most important aspects of using Chinese herbal medicine for pain relief, anxiousness, feelings of depression, etc is that these herbal formulas do not alter your mental awareness or sharpness. In the midst of the current opioid crisis in the United States, Chinese herbal medicine often goes overlooked. We’ll be covering Chinese herbalism for pain management in depth, in the next couple of weeks. The important take away is that Chinese herbal medicine can provide pain relief without impairing your judgement, without impacting your ability to work or function during your normal daily tasks.

Chinese herbal medicine mainly uses formulas that have been developed over time that are then individualized based on the current symptoms. Formulas are crafted with chief herbs, deputies, envoys, and harmonizers. The chief herb(s) represent the main goal of the formula; such as alleviating pain, or settling the stomach, or settling the mind to go to sleep at night. The deputy herbs help the chief herb achieve its task. The envoys will guide the herbs to a specific part of the body; such as a specific limb for pain management or to a specific organ system in the body. Harmonizers make sure that all the herbs in the formula ‘play nice’ together and mitigate any potential toxicity reactions in the body.

As your health improves, your acupuncturist will change and adjust your formula. This is also a unique concept to Chinese herbal medicine. You often do not find yourself on the same formula for months or years. Instead, both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments change as your current health shifts. As you improve, so should many of your symptoms, or sometimes new symptoms appear. Every few weeks to months, your herbs will be adjusted or the formula changed completely to ensure that your body continues to move towards better health.

Finally, patients are rarely on herbs forever. The goal of both acupuncture and herbal medicine is to help your body heal and to adopt any lifestyle changes that will allow healing to take place.

To get the best and safest benefit from Chinese herbal medicine, remember to always work with a licensed acupuncturist trained in Chinese herbal medicine.

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Pain Management with Chinese Herbal Medicine

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Luckily the FDA, CDC, and many primary care physicians are recognizing the benefit of referring patients for acupuncture to treat acute and chronic pain. Since the discussion began in earnest in 2015 to reassess our current conventional practices in treating pain in the United States, acupuncture, mindfulness based meditation practices, chiropractic care, and specific movement modalities are gaining traction in pain management. However, in the search for alternative care for pain management during our current opioid crisis, Chinese herbal medicine often gets overlooked.

Chinese herbal medicine for pain management is an excellent tool to help a patient struggling with chronic pain. But first:

How does Chinese Medicine Understand Pain?
Pain can be complex or it can be simple. Regardless of how complicated your condition is, the goal to treat both the pain and its underlying cause remains the same. Pain can come from a variety of sources: qi and blood stasis, deficiency of qi and blood, deficiency of an organ, and damp, cold, heat or wind ‘invading’ the body.

Qi and Blood stasis:
To put it simply: qi and blood stasis is best explained as something has impeded the flow of energy and/or blood circulation into a joint or muscle. This can stem from an injury, chronic stress, or scar tissue that tightens up muscles in an area. Imagine the large muscles at the top of your shoulders being tight every day after work. Consistently tight muscles will clamp down on the capillary beds that bring fresh oxygenated blood into the muscle tissue and remove metabolic waste like lactic acid. With less blood flow into your muscles, less exchange of oxygen and waste happens. This can cause a cycle of continuing to reinforce tension in the upper back and shoulders.

Deficiency of Qi and Blood:

If there isn’t enough qi (energy) or blood to go around, certain areas of the body suffer from lack of nourishment from qi or blood. Another way to perceive this is if the blood doesn’t have the same vitality to it, such as with someone struggling with anemia, then again the blood’s ability to bring oxygen to tissues and to remove waste is compromised. Blood circulation occurs, but not as effectively as it does in someone without anemia.

Deficiency in an organ system:

Certain organs are associated with regions of the body and different tissues (muscle, tendons, bones, etc). Depending on where the pain is located and in what tissue can indicate fatigue in an organ system. If this is part of your pain pattern, your acupuncturist will incorporate herbs to strengthen those organs.

Dampness, Cold,Heat, or Wind Causing Pain

Weather from our external environment can sort of get stuck in parts of our bodies. Ever have pain that gets worse right before it rains? Or pain that is worse in winter when it is cold? Do you love standing in the wind or does it hurt? While many of us consider these colloquial old wives tales, they indicated different patterns of pain to an acupuncturists. Damp pain tends to be worse when exposed to damp, feels heavy and cloying, or a sense of pressure in the joint, and will often get better with warmth. Cold pain is fixed and intense, often better with heat. Pain from heat is better with cold, very painful, worse with pressure, and typically comes on fast. Pain from wind moves from one place to another and is worse in wind.

We can also create these weather patterns inside our body by eating too much of some foods, beverages, or other lifestyle habits. Certain foods and beverages can cause dampness, cold, and heat in the body. If you already have a cold, damp, or heat condition in the body, then certain cooking styles can make those worse. An acupuncturists will often also address how to cook your food, what foods to eat and what to avoid, based on your specific pain conditions. Food is considered our first medicine, before herbs. Learning how to eat foods and cook in ways that reinforce your acupuncture and herbal treatments will speed your recovery as well.

Why Consider Chinese Herbal Medicine?
1. Chinese herbal medicine does not impair judgement.
Unlike a number of pain medications and medical marijuana, Chinese herbal medicine does not alter your state of mind. This allows you to both treat your pain and to carry on with your daily life.

2. Chinese herbal medicine works by identifying and treating the underlying cause of your pain.
The goal of both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is to sleuth out what is causing your symptoms, in this case, pain. We then aim to treat and help your body heal from the underlying cause of pain, while at the same time treating the pain. The end result is to help a patient become pain free without relying on constant medication or treatments. For instance, depending on the complexity of your pain, you will need a series of acupuncture, cupping therapy, and herbal treatments; but by focusing on treating the underlying cause of pain, over time, you will no longer need these treatments.

3. There Are Both Topical and Internal Herbal Treatment Options
Topicals: There are a wide array of topical herbal treatments found as patches, liniments, herb infused oils, and poultices to treat pain ranging from acute injuries to long standing chronic pain. There are many patches, sprays, and rubs available at any grocery store, but most of those are simply analgesic; meaning they mask pain, but don’t heal the underlying cause of the pain. The different varieties of Chinese medicine topicals have been created over 100s of years to treat the different causes of pain, while also being analgesic. So not all topical patches, sprays, salves, poultices, and liniments are used for the same types of pain.

Just like formulas that you drink, the herbs in your topical treatment treat different tissues (tendon, ligament, bone, muscle), different substances (qi or blood), and can help disperse any other complicating factors (inflammation, cold, dampness, or wind stuck in the joint). For instance, a formula for arthritis in the hands that gets worse in cold weather will have different herbs in it, than an old tendon injury that continues to have chronic pain. The topical treatment for the hands will most likely be a salve or oil to rub into the hands at night with herbs that warm the tissues, improve circulation, and influence bone as well as stop pain. The topical for the chronic pain in a previously injured tendon will have herbs that repair connective tissue, increase blood circulation to the tendon, and address any complicating factors associated with the chronic nature of the pain such as dampness, cold, wind, or heat.

Internal formulas: these come as small pills, powder that you brew into tea, or raw herbs that you brew into tea. Internal formulas are drank 2-4x a day. Similar to topicals, the herbs used in your formula will be individualized to you. It will treat the underlying cause of the pain, have something to stop pain, and something to guide it to the part of the body where you are feeling the pain. It will often also have herbs that help the tissue that is hurting (muscle, connective tissue, bone, skin). The unique thing about internal formulas is that we have herbs that guide the other herbs to a specific part of the body, like the lower legs, the low back, the abdomen, arms, and head. The head even has herbs that guide to the back of the head, the temples, the vertex, and the forehead/sinuses. These are mostly used to treat headaches.

4. Chinese herbal medicine is a few thousand years old
Chinese herbalism is older than the practice of acupuncture–over 2000 years. It is also one of the few herbal practices that did not receive persecution until the Cultural Revolution between 1966-1976. That means herbal medicine was able to be honed and perfected in China with formulas being finely crafted and fine-tuned for over 2000 years.

You can imagine that before modern medicine a large number of formulas were derived to treat injuries, pain from injuries, and to help injuries heal both quickly and properly. These formulas remain effective to this day.

To learn more about Chinese herbal medicine, please read Chinese Herbal Medicine 101.

If you are interested in adding another effective tool to your pain management arsenal, please consult your acupuncturist about Chinese herbal medicine for pain management.

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Painful Period? Chinese medicine can help

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For years I thought that having a painful period (dysmenorrhea) was what every woman went through. Women grow up with a general cultural consensus that periods equal pain; you just have to take painkillers, feel miserable, and wait it out. Needless to say I was elated when acupuncture and Chinese herbs gave me a new lease on life with a painless period! I am now delighted to tell every woman who will listen “Did you know, you can have a pain free period?”

How does Chinese medicine explain dysmenorrhea?
From a Chinese medical perspective, dysmenorrhea is similar to other pain conditions. It results from stagnant blood not moving properly. The classical texts say when there is no movement, there is pain, regardless of whether it’s in your knee, back, elbow or uterus.

For a pain-free period to occur, menstrual blood must be both abundant and able to flow. For many young women, blood can be deficient. The can happen for a variety of reasons; it can be due to an unbalanced diet, excessive physical activity, births that are close together, or a long-standing illness. Like a stream that doesn’t have enough water, the blood will become stagnant, and the flow will not be smooth. Other factors that often cause uterine blood stasis are under-dressing in cold and/or wet climates (especially during the teenage years or during menses), emotional strain, and over-consumption of chilled liquids and foods, like ice water. In the latter case, a good analogy would be when a river starts to freeze over, there is a slowing of pace in the flow of water.

Emotional strain is a very important etiological factor, and emotions such as grief, anger, resentment, worry, guilt and frustration can easily stagnate the blood flow. Just think about the way your breath and muscles change when you are experiencing strong emotions; usually the breath is shallower, the muscles tighten and guarded. The same restriction essentially happens to the blood and the uterine muscle. This stagnation causes pain.

How does acupuncture treat painful periods?
First, an acupuncturist will assess what is the root cause of your painful period. The pain itself is simply a symptom. Our goal is to treat the underlying cause, and by doing so help your body achieve a pain free cycle. Eventually, you can continue to have a pain free cycle without the need for regular acupuncture.

To treat dysmenorrhea, your acupuncturist will often use a combination of herbs and acupuncture to be most efficacious. Acupuncture increases blood circulation and relaxes the uterine muscle. Acupuncture and herbs can also warm the blood (in cold conditions), enhance blood (when there’s not enough), and regulate the function of organ systems.

Generally speaking, treatments will be based on the woman’s cycle, with two treatments a month (before and after the menses) being the minimum frequency. Your acupuncturist may want you to be seen weekly for the first month or two if your condition has multiple underlying causes. It will typically take at least 3 menstrual cycles to regulate the body, and patients with longer standing issues or endometriosis should expect longer treatment plans.

There is a great amount of energy that is freed up every month when you don’t have to be in pain for a week, not to mention the dread leading up to the anticipation of your period! As a positive side effect, these dysmenorrhea treatments often clear up PMS symptoms as well, like bloating, irritability, and breast tenderness.

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As a teenager and well into my early twenties, I frequently suffered from dysmenorrhea– or painful periods. Everyone told me it was normal. Many of my matriarchs confided in me that they had debilitating cramps when their cycles started and well through their school years– painful enough to send them home from work and school. It was also common to have breast tenderness, bloating, and strong mood swings. I saw an OBGYN and they assured me that all of these uncomfortable symptoms were just par for the course– I had nothing wrong with me. Just grin and bear it with the occasional missed class/school day and a heating pad.

Looking back, it amazes me that I often used acupuncture for back pain, sports injuries, and even digestion issues, but I never once sought the help of Chinese medicine for women’s health. Early into my master’s program in East Asian medicine, I was astonished at the depth and breadth of information on women’s health. Chinese medicine has a long history of focusing on women’s health, as well as the search for longevity and even immortality. I think we have all heard the stories of Chinese emperors searching for that one elixir to live forever (and in a vigorous quality of life). Well, the focus on women’s health has been around equally as long as the search for graceful aging in East Asian medicine. It was a savvy choice, as women’s health truly mattered in growing a population.

Basically, Chinese medicine sees a woman’s menstrual cycle (including the length of time between periods) as a way to deduce overall health in a woman’s body. The ideal period is no big deal– minor to zero cramping, barely a change in mood, no breast tenderness, minor bloating or no bloating, no changes in bowel movements during your period, 3-6 days of bleeding, that starts fresh red and tapers off to spotting. When we start to have strong mood swings, irritability, depression, breast tenderness, cramping, body aches, bloating and a variety of other annoying issues, Chinese medicine views it as various organs signaling us that they are getting out of balance. When our organs and the associated acupuncture meridian (or pathway) gets fatigued or stressed, our quality of life starts to suffer long before anything physically becomes wrong with us. Ie- you do not have a diagnosable illness, but it really isn’t fun to be walking around for a week being cranky or crying easily with super tender breast and low abdominal pain. Chinese medicine says, ‘hey, it doesn’t have to be that way.’

The Key Players In A Healthy Menstrual Cycle:

It is tough to condense three years of academic material on Chinese medical theory into a concise blog. Please bear with me. The main organs and their associated acupuncture meridians that impact your menstrual cycle are: the spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, as well as some systems called the extraordinary meridians.

Bloating, Water Weight, Gas, and Changes in Bowel Movements, Heavy periods, Sugar Cravings

sugarThe spleen relates to the menstrual cycle in Chinese medical theory because it is in charge of holding blood in the vessels– i.e., regulating bleeding and coagulation of blood. If you have ‘chaotic’ bleeding or abnormal bleeding, then the spleen organ and meridian are involved. Chaotic or abnormal bleeding shows up as bruising easily, slow clot forming when you get a cut, and in exceptionally heavy periods that may or may not actually be long in the length of bleeding days, such as a period that last seven to ten or more days. The spleen is also strongly tied to digestive health (the spleen organ and meridian in Chinese medicine seems to act as both the pancreas and the spleen in Western medical physiology). If the energy of the spleen is tired, you will often have an increase of gas, loose stools, and sugar cravings right before and/or during your period.

Breast tenderness, Mood swings, Painful periods-cramping, neck and shoulder pains, Sugar Cravingssidewalk crack

The liver relates to your menstrual cycle as one of its many tasks in the body is to ‘dredge the channels and pathways to make the free and clear of any blockages.’ This is a strange translation of classical medical texts that basically means the energetic role of the liver is to pave the way for smooth circulation of both energy (qi) and blood throughout the body. When qi and blood do not circulate smoothly, it causes varying degrees of pain. This often shows up as breast tenderness, headaches, migraines, cramping, clots in the period, and/or significant bloating. Irritability and quick mood swings between frustration, anger, and crying are associated with liver qi that is not moving smoothly. The flavor of foods that soothes the liver is sweet, so we also tend to have strong sugar cravings alongside some of the above symptoms. The sweetness that actually helps the liver and spleen is the sweetness of root vegetables (beets, carrots, and sweet parsnips), squash, and grains, not refined sugar. When we reach for the refined sugar candy bars or extra flavored lattes, we tend to get temporary relief followed by stronger symptoms.

Scanty periods, moderate cramping

The heart is in charge of the quality of the blood. If your menstrual cycle is light, scanty, or non-existent the heart maybe involved. It also has a great deal of less easily translated relationships to your menstrual cycle, one of which relates to volatile emotions or an increase in anxiousness and restless sleep during your period.

Delayed menstruation, Amenorrhea (lack of a period), long cycles, low libido

The kidney relates to the menstrual cycle as being the main organ responsible for our constitutional vigor. Our kidney energy strongly relates to our sexual maturity, i.e.- the start of menstruation, and our sex drive. If the kidney energy is tired, then you may have trouble even having a period. Other symptoms of kidney involvement are low back pain during your period, either a low or hyperactive libido, numb pain or a strong pain in your genitals during menstrual cramping. If the time between your periods starts to stretch out over a few months or your cycle starts to become irregular, often the kidney energy has become fatigued. Please note that this does not mean that your actual kidneys have anything wrong with them.

This is not an exhaustive list of the ways in which our menstrual cycles can go awry. Many of us have cycles that have complicated patterns involving multiple organ systems and other issues that I have not listed above. My main intention with this post is to share the knowledge that acupuncture and East Asian medicine has a deep understanding of our menstrual cycles. It also has an equally deep understanding of how to treat these symptoms with a combination of acupuncture, dietary advice, and the use of Chinese herbal medicine. If you are interested in improving your quality of life around and during your menstrual cycle, I highly encourage you to seek out the advice of an acupuncturist.

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Immune supportive Meal Plans

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Earlier this week we sent out an update regarding the Coronavirus, and suggested the best course of action is to practice good personal hygiene (just like the CDC recommends), and to support our immune system through nutrition.

To support the immune system, it is useful to reduce overall inflammation in the body. Typical inflammatory foods are: wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, fatty meats, and oils that oxidize readily or our cooked in repeatedly (think fast food fryer for French fries). These are consider inflammatory from an allopathic Western sense, and in Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine these are damp producing foods, or damp-heat and damp-cold producing foods. Too much dampness in the body makes an environment that is ideal for inflammation and hinders the immune response to viruses and bacteria.

So our goals for enhancing the immune system through food are to eliminate or significantly reduce the inflammatory foods listed above, while enhancing the immune system with vitamin A, C, selenium, and zinc.

Because it can be daunting to undertake a new way of eating, I have put together an omnivore and a vegetarian 3-week meal plan with recipes. Roughly 50% of the recipes are mine, while the rest are from some of my favorite recipe authors. These are credited throughout the document with links to the recipe. Because I am not super tech savvy, you may have to copy and paste the link from the PDF document into your browser to access the recipe. Please understand I put this together as quickly as I could to help aid anyone interested in getting ahead of the coronavirus with some immune boosting strategies through our daily diet.

Vegetarian Three Week Immune Boosting Meal Plan (please access at this link: Earlier this week we sent out an update regarding the Coronavirus, and suggested the best course of action is to practice good personal hygiene (just like the CDC recommends), and to support our immune system through nutrition.

To support the immune system, it is useful to reduce overall inflammation in the body. Typical inflammatory foods are: wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, fatty meats, and oils that oxidize readily or our cooked in repeatedly (think fast food fryer for French fries). These are consider inflammatory from an allopathic Western sense, and in Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine these are damp producing foods, or damp-heat and damp-cold producing foods. Too much dampness in the body makes an environment that is ideal for inflammation and hinders the immune response to viruses and bacteria.

So our goals for enhancing the immune system through food are to eliminate or significantly reduce the inflammatory foods listed above, while enhancing the immune system with vitamin A, C, selenium, and zinc.

Because it can be daunting to undertake a new way of eating, I have put together an omnivore and a vegetarian 3-week meal plan with recipes. Roughly 50% of the recipes are mine, while the rest are from some of my favorite recipe authors. These are credited throughout the document with links to the recipe. Because I am not super tech savvy, you may have to copy and paste the link from the PDF document into your browser to access the recipe. Please understand I put this together as quickly as I could to help aid anyone interested in getting ahead of the coronavirus with some immune boosting strategies through our daily diet.

Access both a vegetarian and an omnivore meal plans at this link: https://stickoutyourtongue.org/2020/03/06/immune-supportive-meal-plans/

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