Sara Crispino, L.Ac.

Do you ever feel like moving through your daily activities is hard?

Like you’re wading through sludge to get your chores done? Or if Steve from accounting chews his breakfast with his mouth open again, you might lose it?

You might have stuck energy! 

Stuck energy, aka Stagnation in Chinese medicine, can feel different to everyone but the most common sensations are: a feeling of being pent up, sluggishness, tiredness, anxiety, frustration, or even heaviness. 

What is Aggressive Energy?

In Chinese medicine, the concept of Aggressive Energy, or AE, comes from the idea that we need a balanced flow of energy between each organ to feel well. When we have AE, the organs are out of balance and our energy flow becomes stagnated. 

Aggressive Energy is energy that is pathological (meaning it’s causing trouble) and can range from something like a common cold, an injury, or from an emotional upset caused either internally (negative self talk or beliefs) or externally (a situation, past or present, causing emotional stress).

Aggressive Energy is something distracting or bubbling under the surface that prevents the body from healing or balancing efficiently.

Some other emotional experiences that can be considered Aggressive Energy are:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Family challenges
  • Dietary struggles
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hyperfixation

None of these experiences sound enjoyable, do they? 

It’s important to make sure our bodies are cleared from these more ‘surface level’ energies so that we can influence the deeper and more constitutional difficulty that allowed us to be so affected in the first place. 

Aggressive Energy Treatment

An Aggressive Energy treatment is often utilized as an initial acupuncture treatment. This helps us assess the individual organs and clear any “blockages” that could prevent future treatments from working as well. 

If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t expect to hike a 14er without getting the cast off and doing a little PT first, would you? This treatment is like removing the cast and strengthening the leg a little bit before doing more intensive rehab. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ of the body has an associated emotion or aspect of our mental experience or spirit. There are five main emotions and organs that we tend to focus on:

Aggressive Energy Treatment

As you can see, each organ has an emotion associated with it. It may be true that you’re noticing a little more frustration than usual; maybe you’re feeling extra snappy, or you suddenly have road rage like never before…

This would imply that something is off with your Liver organ system and we’d likely see a lot of “sha”, or redness, at the point associated with the Liver.

After the treatment you may notice a change in your road rage (hopefully for the better).

What is the treatment? Does it hurt?

The points of this treatment are chosen from a group of points we refer to as Back Shu points.The word “shu” literally means “to transport” which suggests that these points transport energy directly to or from their corresponding organ. We needle these points shallowly so the needle is just barely within the skin.

This technique is very gentle and causes minimal discomfort as the goal is to activate the Qi gently.

Signs You Have Aggressive Energy

Needling the specific points of this treatment can give us tons of information about what’s going on internally. The most telling sign is when we see something called “sha”. Sha is a change in the skin around the acupuncture needle, often seen as a red, histamine response.

It’s really the body giving us a resounding “YES, this way! That’s where the problem is! ”. Which brings me to the concept of Aggressive Energy. 

What to expect during an Aggressive Energy Treatment

There are lots of opinions about how this treatment should be done, some traditional and some less so. The less traditional and more adaptive way is based on super special, magical, intuitive, sensing of the person on the table…

Kidding…kind of. 

It’s true that acupuncture can be like a conversation with the body, and every body communicates differently, so taking time to sense is important!

With this treatment it’s like we’re telling the organs “wake up, we’re coming to clear and balance energy and we want your attention!”

After one or a few treatments (sometimes we have a lot of Aggressive Energy, so one treatment isn’t enough), each organ should be standing at attention and ready for their close up.

This way the body is able to slowly warm to the idea that it’s time to let go of some of this energy and maintain a balance.

An important note about after treatment

This treatment can be like opening the door to a room full of things we forgot we had… 

Basically, it can cause our body systems to stir a bit. This can look like many things but commonly: a little bit of stomach gurgling or change in digestion, going to the bathroom more than before, changes around your menstrual cycle, or an increase in emotions and potentially emotional release. Sometimes this happens as the treatment is happening, sometimes after the fact. 

However uncomfortable this may seem, it’s actually a good thing! It means your body is letting go of things preventing you from feeling better which means we’re on our way to balance!

If you think you or a loved one has stuck energy, maybe an Aggressive Energy treatment is for you!

Book a free 15 minute telemedicine consult with us to see if an Aggressive Energy treatment is a good treatment for you. You’ll get a chance to tell us what you need help with, and we’ll let you know how we can help, how many treatments we recommend for you, and what to expect.

And of course, you can also just book a treatment with us, too! 

Sara Crispino, L.Ac.
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Acupuncture for Grief: How It Can Help

Last week we had to say goodbye to our sweet, best good boy, Murphy Dog. He was a certified old geezer at 15 years old, but it still broke my heart.

If you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, you know how hard it is. To make things even harder, our sweet Murphy passed on the two-year anniversary of the day my dad died.

I can’t decide if this makes things extra difficult, grief-wise, or if it’s actually very efficient. However you look at it, the grief has been heavy.

Grief Sucks

It really, really sucks. It hits you right in the chest, almost knocking the wind out of you. Makes your whole body contract, and makes your heart literally ache.

The way grief comes in waves is a relief when it subsides, or it can knock your feet out from under you. Sometimes, I just feel so thankful for having had that sweet, loving dog in our lives. Other times, I forget he’s gone and expect him to come running for greetings and love when I walk in the door.

All the little things that you take for granted, from when they come to wake you up in the morning for breakfast, to even feeling sad that there’s so much less poop to scoop in the yard now that he is gone.* (Murphy had enviably good digestion. Also, my husband thinks this is very weird that it makes me sad, lol, so it’s ok if you do, too. It’s just another sign he isn’t here to me.)

As an acupuncturist, I know that all emotions are good and healthy, as long as they don’t get stuck in our bodies.

Grief According to East-Asian Medicine

Grief is said to “knot the Qi.” I feel that..like all the energy is tied up, almost making it hard to breathe. Grief is related to the Lung and Large Intestine (Metal Element), which govern taking in energy through breathing and letting go appropriately through the breath and Large Intestine.

So while it is important to feel your emotions, it is equally important to keep them from getting stuck in our bodies. When grief gets stuck in our bodies, it can weaken our immune systems, cause tightness in the chest and lungs, constipation, and cause a lot of stagnation in our whole body/mind/spirit.

This is where acupuncture and herbal medicine can help.

How Acupuncture Can Help Manage Grief

And while acupuncture and herbal medicine can’t take away your grief (nor do I think we’d totally want it to), it CAN help keep it from getting so stuck in your body.

And of course, I always recommend a good therapist to help with this, too. But sometimes the grief is also stuck in our bodies, and acupuncture and herbal medicine are some of the best remedies for that particular aspect of grief (or any other stuck emotion).

Acupuncture will calm the feeling of overwhelm, and help you breathe a little easier, help get things moving that are stuck. And it will help you feel better right there on the table during your treatment. And because acupuncture is cumulative, taking care of yourself with a series of treatments will help you even more.

This is important because it helps us to move forward in our own lives, not by avoiding or burying our grief, but by helping us grow with it. It can help us get out of that “stuckness.”

A few days ago, I had a wonderful acupuncture session with Sarah at our office. I felt “tied up” emotionally and even physically. That treatment helped soften my whole body and being. And it reminded me how thankful I am for this medicine, and all it can do.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine work best when used weekly, for the cumulative effect, for Grief, and most other things, too.

At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal your whole being, from emotional issues to chronic pain.

For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

Book a massage anytime here.

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac 
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Acupuncture for Grief

So it’s Winter.

Are you one of the many who say they hate this time of year? It’s cold. It’s still getting dark too early. There isn’t much going on. It can feel blah all around.

Plus, most of us are pretty worn out after the busy holiday season, wishing we had a little more space, a little more time to rest, catch up and just breathe!

That, my friends, is the lovely hidden gift Winter offers us… time to rest and breathe and dream. Most importantly, Winter offers us space, if we’ll just take it.

So I have a challenge for you…Let’s reframe Winter!

What if, instead of feeling cranky about this time of year, we go with the flow?

Let’s rest and sleep in and get cozy. Curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a book, or have movie days with your family. Even better let’s spend time dreaming about what we want to bring to life this year.

At its core, Chinese Medicine teaches us about living in harmony with the world around us. One of the most powerful ways to truly live in balance is to honor the rhythm and wisdom of the seasons.

While Spring is about awakening and new beginnings, Summer teaches us to revel in growth and the fullness of life, and Autumn reminds us of the necessary skill of letting go.

And Winter…Winter teaches us to go within.

To recharge ourselves with rest, reflection, and stillness. It is the antidote to the never-ending to-do lists, the running-ragged-busyness that rules our modern lives. Winter is a beautiful opportunity to replenish our physical and emotional reserves.

Winter is the Yin to the Yang of our busy lives.

Winter is the time to gather your strength and renew and rebuild your Willpower to accomplish your goals in the year ahead.

So how can you embrace the gifts of Wintertime?

And maybe even learn to savor this quiet and inward-focused season? Chinese medicine has a lot to teach us about using this time of year to create healthy reserves for the whole year to come.

6 Easy Ways to Replenish Yourself in Winter

1. Rest!

In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys, Bladder, and Adrenals are the organs associated with Winter. Taking extra time to rest, so you can replenish, restore and recuperate, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in the Winter. So go to bed a little early, sleep in a bit when you can, and take an afternoon nap here and there. Let this quieter time of year help you give your adrenals a break, and just slow it all down for a few weeks.

2. Reflect

Let your New Year’s goals, planning, and dreaming stretch out a bit into January. Take time to dive deep into your dreams and think about how you want to manifest them into your world this year. No rush, no pushing, just sit with it all and see what comes up. Make space for your heart and mind and see what they have to say!

3. Water Therapy

Water is the element associated with Winter in Chinese Medicine. Water symbolizes the depths of us, deep within. Along with taking space for reflection, water therapy can be deeply regenerative and healing at this time of year.

Visiting hot springs are a great option, but you can take a nice hot bath with Epsom salts right at home anytime. Light some candles, turn down the lights, put in a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and let yourself sink into that delicious, enveloping warmth. It will help relax your muscles and mind, and support your whole being.

4. Nourish Yourself!

This time of year calls for warming, nourishing foods. Think soups and stews, bone broths, root veggies, and warming herbs and spices like rosemary, garlic, ginger, onions, turmeric, black pepper, nuts, and seeds.

Black and dark foods are especially beneficial according to Chinese medicine, like black rice, black beans, and purple sweet potatoes. So warm up with a nice spicy Chai in the morning and enjoy some curries or your favorite homemade soup to warm you from the inside out.

5. Moderate movement

While rest is the most important aspect of nourishing ourselves in the Winter, it is always important to get moderate exercise every day to avoid stagnation and keep yourself healthy.

The key to exercise in Winter is moderation…this is not the time of year to push yourself as hard as you can. Think long walks, pilates, yoga, and moderate weight training. Better yet, go for a hike…always a personal favorite!

6. Stay Warm!

Last but not least, keep yourself warm in the Wintertime! (looking at those belly-baring sweaters out there…) First, keep your head, neck, and chest warm and covered when you’re out in the cold. In Chinese Medicine, it’s super important to keep the cold wind off these areas.

Time for fuzzy socks and all the cute scarves! Keep blankets handy on the couch, and snuggle up often. Lastly, keep yourself warm on the inside with all those warming spices we talked about.

    I hope you find some time and space to settle into the rhythm of the season this Winter to fill yourself back up. It will serve you well for the rest of the year.

    For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

    Book a massage anytime here.

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac 
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    Well, it’s back. The Rona. Vid. Sars-COv19.  

    It was nice to let the pandemic fade into the background for a while. As predicted, the virus has mutated again and there is a surge beginning all across the U.S., including here in Colorado. 

    (This is a long one…look for bold print for highlights if you’re in a hurry.)

    New Variant causing the surge

    This latest version of the highly contagious Omicron variant has mutated a few more times. The current dominant variant across the country, B.1.1.529, is twice as contagious and has gotten better at evading vaccines for infection.

    Vaccines are still providing protection against severe illness, hospitalization, long-Covid, and death, even with breakthrough cases. Long-covid cases among the vaccinated are also on the rise alongside breakthrough cases (although still much, much lower than for unvaccinated.)

    The Data on the Latest Surge

    Transmission starts to surge when case positivity goes above 5%. 

    Here in Colorado, according to the state’s Covid19 page[1], the case positivity rate as of today (5/18/2022) is at 8.37%, up from under 3% over a month ago.

    Nationally, cases are rising, too, with 99,247 cases/day on average, when the national average a couple of months ago was about 36,000 cases/day[2]. As of today (5/18/2022), U.S. Health officials said one-third of Americans live in areas with such high transmission, they should consider wearing masks indoors, regardless of local policy[3].

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard from more patients and friends about new covid cases in the past 2 weeks than I have in a few months. These cases range from asymptomatic to quite sick, even among some fully vaxxed/boosted healthy people, although no hospitalizations yet.

    Most of these cases are first-time infections, although we’ve heard of a few people getting covid for the 2nd time lately, too.

    Is Covid really that big of a deal anymore?

    Take it from people who’ve been treating acute and long-Covid…you really don’t want to get this if you can avoid it. 

    For those who say Covid is no worse than the flu, I’d like to note a few points… 

    1. Influenza sucks. Bad. You can expect to be quite sick for 7-10 days, then run down and not yourself for another week or two after that. It is common to then get sinus infections, pneumonia, and even auto-immune issues after influenza, extending your misery. So why is this comparison used like it’s no big deal?
    2. Covid spreads much more easily than influenza, can cause more serious illness, people are contagious longer, and serious complications leading to hospitalization and death are much more likely even in healthy people when compared to influenza[4].
    3. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Covid has a much higher risk than influenza of long-term complications affecting multiple other organs[5].
    4. Personally, I like to avoid being horribly sick for weeks regardless of the cause. I think most people can agree on that. 

    What you can do

    Ok, that’s a lot of data (I am a data nerd…see all the footnotes if you are, too). 

    I know there is some serious pandemic fatigue out there. I feel it, too.

    So what can you do to stay healthy? 

    And do you really need to worry about it? Isn’t it just around, like the flu? 

    Covid isn’t really considered endemic yet, and since there’s so much of it around still, it’s mutating frequently, which means the game keeps changing, like it has recently. Yet again. So, if you just don’t care, just stop reading. If you’re concerned, and want to know what to do, keep going. 

    If you or someone close to you have chronic health issues, (like me with asthma), it’s worth paying attention and taking some steps to protect your health, as well as the health of people around you. 

    Boost your immunity

    Start with your day-day routine. Here’s the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy …

    • Get enough sleep!
      I know this is basic, but most of us could be a lot better about making sure we get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a night. 
    • Drink lots of water
      Being dehydrated puts your body under stress. Try to get those 8 glasses a day.
    • Eat those fruits and veggies
      They’re full of vitamins, mineral, electrolytes, fiber…the list goes on. You know this, now go do it!
    • Minimize sugar, dairy, fried foods, alcohol and processed foods
      These foods cause inflammation and tank your immune system. Plus, according to Chinese Medicine,they create more phlegm in our bodies, which is a perfect breeding ground for viruses.
    • Supplement!
      These are the top 4 supplements I recommend for immune support. You can order them online here.
    • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin C
    • NAC
    • Zinc
    • Use Chinese Herbal Medicine
      Chinese herbal formulas are helpful for prevention, treatment, and recovery. You’ll need to see a qualified practitioner to get the right formula for you. You can book with me here
    • Get regular acupuncture 
      According to this article in the National Library of Medicine, More and more research has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and anti-stress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects.”[6] Bonus…it will also help your sleep, digestion, stress, periods…..You can book here

    Avoid catching it in public

    I know, I know, we’re all tired of masks. But they work. If you want to greatly reduce your chance of getting Covid, a mask is one of your best lines of defense.

    The science and data are exceedingly clear that masks dramatically reduce transmission of Covid and other viruses[7]. Especially if it’s a well-fitted, multi-filter mask like a KN95 (here’s what we use.) They are safe to wear all day[8]

    Right now, I’d say if you’re high-risk for any reason, or people in your family are high-risk, wear a mask when indoors around other people. 

    If you don’t want to wear it all the time, here’s a good guideline:

    If you are within 6 feet of people for more than a few minutes, wear the mask.

    For example…if you’re at the grocery store on a Monday afternoon and hardly anyone is around, you are safer without a mask than on a Saturday morning when it’s packed. Make sense?

    A note…most local governments have said they won’t implement a mask mandate unless hospitals fill up, which is a very different criterion than before when cases hit a certain number per hundred thousand. This means cases can be really high, but they won’t necessarily do any kind of mandate, just “recommended.”

    And remember, people are contagious for 1-2 days before symptoms show up, so you can’t tell just by looking.

    Here’s the TL;DR list of What to Do to Avoid Catching Covid in Public…

    • Wear a mask when indoors in crowded places…regardless of whether they are required. 
    • Social distance when indoors
    • Do your socializing outside and enjoy the weather.  
    • Wash your hands (do this anyway, because gross)

    What if someone in my family has Covid?

    Excellent question, and one I am able to answer from experience. 

    My very healthy, no high-risk-factors, vaxxed and boosted husband just got covid about a week ago, at work. Several other people there got it, too. Most were vaxxed, and/or had already had it in the past 6 months. 

    Much to our surprise, even with herbs and supplements, my husband got very sick… Like I was watching to see if he needed to go to the ER kind of sick. He had chest pain, was coughing up profuse dark mucus, 102º fever for 3 days even with alternating ibuprofen and Tylenol every 3 hours, body aches, chills, very sore throat, and total misery kind of sick. Two different doctors said they couldn’t give him antivirals or monoclonal antibodies because he isn’t high-risk. 

    Thankfully, he’s on the upswing now, though still sick. 

    The good news is that, so far, my kids and I are negative for Covid and have no symptoms. 

    Here’s what we do to keep the rest of us healthy:

    • Run humidifiers
      Airborne virus particles travel best in dry air. Running a humidifier to about 40-60% humidity, especially here in dry Colorado, can help minimize transmission[9].
    • Sanitize!
      Clean the ever-lovin’ daylights out of high-touch surfaces OFTEN…doorknobs, light switches, and faucets. Wash the towels on hot and change them frequently, especially hand and kitchen towels.
    • Ventilate!
      Ventilation is important to lower viral concentration[10].
    • Open your windows 
    • Run a HEPA filter in common areas and in bedrooms with more than one person (I suspect this plus a humidifier helped me NOT catch it even though we sleep in the same bed until he had symptoms).
    • Run your furnace fan to keep the house ventilated and bring in outside air. 
    • Sick person quarantines in a separate room and uses a separate bathroom
      Keep those germies to yourself!
    • The sick person always wears a KN95 mask if leaving the quarantine room even for a minute. 
    • Healthy people wear a KN95 mask if around the sick person (ie. to bring them food or medicine)
    • Do the above “Boost your Immunity” stuff…sleep, eat well, etc.
    • Test frequently 

    You can get free home-test kits from the U.S. Gov’t here

    Walgreen’s still has free drive-up NAAT rapid molecular tests and PCR tests. Book an appointment here

    The State of Colorado still has some free testing sites that you can find here

    Finally, I know it’s hard to know where to look for good info on the current Covid situation. My favorite all-in-one source for well-researched and vetted current info, from an actual epidemiologist, who explains it all in understandable terms, is Your Local Epidemiologist, Katelyn Jetelina, who started this blog way back at the beginning of the pandemic to help people understand things like R0, etc. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at Substack here

    For other Covid data if you’re interested:

    Tri-County Health Department https://www.tchd.org/818/Coronavirus-COVID-19

    State of Colorado https://covid19.colorado.gov/data

    Centers for Disease Control https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

    World Health Organization https://covid19.who.int

    Stay healthy, friends.

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    [1] https://covid19.colorado.gov/data

    [2] https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

    [3] https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/05/18/world/covid-19-mandates-vaccine-cases?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=Article&variant=show&is_new=false

    [4] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

    [5] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu

    [6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883189/

    [7]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883189/

    [8] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-face-masks-cause-health-problems/

    [9] https://www.consumerreports.org/flu/use-a-humidifier-to-prevent-flu-a6503801917/

    [10] https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/ventilation-and-coronavirus-covid-19

    It’s officially Women’s National Health week May 8-14, 2022.

    I really wish the focus on women’s health was at least a month. Better yet, at least a fiscal quarter. 

    There has long been a huge deficit in western medicine in understanding women’s health as unique from men’s health.

    For example, heart attack symptoms in a woman often present differently than in men. Another example, the Mayo Clinic reports that only 20% of postgrad residents are taught a formal menopause curriculum, and fewer than 1 in 10 residents, even in gynecology, felt “adequately prepared” to manage patient care during menopause.[1]

    Considering that there will be 55 million women in menopause in the United States by 2025[2] this is not just ridiculous, it’s unacceptable

    Even more stunning, research shows that gender bias in healthcare is “widespread.”

    This shows up in many ways, from not believing women’s symptoms, viewing women as “emotional” or “hysterical,” and that women exaggerate their pain.[3] This is much worse for women of color or LGBTQIA people.

    (Imagine me pulling my hair out about this for a minute…)

    While male and female bodies have a lot in common, the differences in hormones create big differences in everything from metabolism to heart disease risk to being prone to spraining your ankles. Every organ in the body is affected by your hormones. This is why women’s health risks change so much after menopause.

    But women’s health is not just about menopause, or even just about periods.

    It’s about heart health, maintaining a healthy weight to stave off diabetes and high cholesterol. It’s about managing stress, and acknowledging the weight that women often feel they must carry.

    While I don’t feel a week does Women’s Health justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health has good info on their page for this week.[4] 

    They remind us to

    • Schedule your annual physical and other Health appointments
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Get moving and stay active
    • Eat balanced meals and snacks
    • Practice self-care for Mental Health
    • Find healthy ways to manage stress
    • Create good sleep habits
    • And several more.

    Truly, these are good advice, but how helpful is a webpage?

    We need a seachange in how we, as a culture, educate both our providers and patients on what it means to be healthy and why.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers on how to do that. But let’s start with changing our minds on a few important things….

    1. Periods are not a disorder
      Difficult periods are a sign of imbalance that can be treated symptomatically with hormone therapy (ie birth control), AND the underlying causes and symptoms can be effectively treated with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

    2. Menopause is not a disorder
      Ditto above

    3. Feeling emotional is not a disorder
      I think we can all agree that men are also quite emotional, even if they don’t express it. I hope this doesn’t need any explanation. Seriously.

    4. Women are not “less-than” men.

    5. Our society will function better as a whole when women are consistently receiving the care they need


    I’ll get off my soapbox now. I obviously feel strongly that women’s healthcare needs to be better.

    There are signs things are starting to change, and I’m here for it.

    As always, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, diet, and lifestyle can all make huge improvements in a woman’s health, and men, children, and everyone else, too.

    Let us know if we can help.

    Here’s to all the women out there!

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    [1] https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(18)30701-8/fulltext

    [2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/28/menopause-hormone-therapy-nih-went-wrong/

    [3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gender-bias-in-healthcare

    [4] https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/about

    Has anyone ever told you they tried acupuncture once and it didn’t work?

    Well, that’s because just one acupuncture treatment may make you feel better for a day or two, but as magical as acupuncture can be, a series of treatments is needed to achieve deep and lasting results.

    How many treatments you’ll need depends on a few things, including what issue we’re treating, how long you’ve had it, your overall health, and how severe the issue is. Long-standing chronic issues, or very severe problems, will likely require a longer series of treatments, while something like a mild ankle sprain will respond well in just 2-3 treatments.  

    Acupuncture and massage therapy are dose-dependent.

    Cumulative treatments are usually needed, just like when you see a chiropractor or physical therapist. You’ll get some relief from your first treatment, but a series of treatments make lasting changes by retraining the nervous system and muscle memory, calming inflammation, improving circulation, strengthening the immune system, and regulating hormones.

    In general with acupuncture, we recommend weekly treatment for the first 4-6 visits, then taper to every other week, then monthly if needed. You should feel better after each treatment, however, it takes multiple visits close together to create lasting change. Herbal medicine may also be recommended, and can greatly enhance and speed up treatment since it is taken daily.

    Here are some examples of commonly treated problems that usually follow this treatment plan

    (If your symptoms are especially severe, you may need more weekly treatment, or 2+ visits the first week or two for best results):

    Migraines

    Weekly acupuncture for 4-6 weeks, then every other week for 1-2 months, then as needed as migraines subside. Herbs may be prescribed. Craniosacral therapy and neck massage may also be recommended

    Painful and/or irregular periods

    Weekly acupuncture for 4 weeks, then every other week for two more months, as near as possible to ovulation and period. Herbs are highly recommended for best results. Visceral manipulation for painful periods may be recommended.

    Long-Covid

    Weekly acupuncture 4+ weeks then tapering as above. This depends entirely on the severity of symptoms and the systems affected. Mild symptoms may resolve in a month, severe symptoms can take months to clear. Herbal medicine is highly recommended in most cases.

    Insomnia

    Weekly 4-6 visits, then tapering as above. Herbal medicine is highly recommended.

    Anxiety

    Weekly 4-6 weeks, then tapering as above. Herbal medicine is very helpful and works daily. Those with chronic anxiety do best with monthly maintenance sessions once symptoms are managed. Craniosacral therapy may be recommended, as well.

    For massage, you may just need a session or two to relieve your sore muscles or occasional massages for self-care.

    Several weekly treatments are recommended for chronic conditions that are causing you ongoing problems. Problems like chronic neck or back pain, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other chronic musculoskeletal pain respond best to consistent work during the first few weeks, as your massage therapist releases tension and adhesions in the tissue and surrounding areas that may be contributing to your pain patterns.

    Of course, many people get a regular monthly massage and/or acupuncture for health maintenance, too.

    We highly recommend monthly maintenance sessions as a wonderful and feel-good part of your healthy lifestyle! Monthly maintenance sessions are a great way to manage stress, calm anxiety, improve circulation, manage chronic health issues, and keep your immune system strong.

    We are also here if you need us for those flare-ups, new issues and to help manage stress and anxiety.

    As always, let us know if you have questions about treatment, including what we can treat. We’re happy to help!

    Book an appointment for acupuncture or massage, or a 15-minute free initial consult at https://acusimple.com/access/7870/#/appointments/1016/

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    It is officially Spring!

    And we are well into Spring allergy season. That runny nose and nasal congestion may not be a cold, it could be allergies. Itchy eyes, nose or skin are telltale signs it’s probably allergies. You also might notice your symptoms are worse after you’ve been outside, or better on snowy days, when the moisture tamps down the pollen.

    Tree pollen is the main allergen right now, with some trees starting to release pollen as early as February in Denver, and lasting through April or May. It always takes us by surprise, since we are also getting the most snow this time of year!

    What is histamine load?

    Histamine is the chemical in our body that causes an allergic reaction. It’s there to protect you, but with allergies, it’s gone rogue and overreacts to harmless things from pollen to peanuts. It can get so out of control it can even cause Histamine Intolerance or Mast-Cell Activation, which are systemic allergic responses that affect your whole body. With seasonal allergies, it’s likely causing your annoying post-nasal drip, itchy eyes and making you tired.

    So what can we do to minimize our overactive histamine and get some allergy relief?

    Luckily, there are lots of safe and effective natural remedies for allergies and minimizing your histamine response. They’re safe to use with conventional allergy meds if needed. If your allergies get really bad, it’s a good idea to take over-the-counter antihistamines as directed by your MD.

    But there’s a lot you can do to reduce the histamine load in your body, and to manage and minimize your allergy symptoms, naturally.

     

    1. Rinse out the offending allergens

    Every day after you’ve been exposed to allergens like pollen or pet dander, take time to rinse them off! 

    Start by doing a neti pot/nasal rinse with warm salt water to rinse the offenders out of your nose. Use a half cup of warm distilled water with ¼ teaspoon salt. It can feel a bit tender the first time, but once you start doing it regularly, it will feel so much better. You can do this in the morning, too, if you feel really congested. 

    Also, take a shower before going to bed, to wash all the pollen/allergens out of your hair and off your body/ Also, wear clean PJs to bed. You don’t want to take those allergens to bed with you!

     

    2. Cut out High-Histamine Foods

    Did you know some foods actually contain high amounts of histamine, or can trigger the release of histamine in your body? These add more histamine to your body and make your histamine response, and thus your allergies, worse. It’s helpful to avoid these high-histamine foods when you’re having a lot of allergy issues.

     
    High-histamine foods to avoid:
    • alcohol and fermented beverages, like kombucha
    • fermented foods, like pickles, sauerkraut and yogurt
    • dairy, especially aged cheeses
    • processed or smoked meats
    • shellfish
    Histamine-triggering foods to avoid:
    • alcohol (double whammy with this one)
    • bananas
    • tomatoes
    • chocolate
    • citrus
    • nuts
    • food dyes and additives

    3. Help your Gut

     
    Gut health is super important for immune health in general, and for allergies, too. We’ve already mentioned that foods can affect histamine levels, but your gut microbiome has a big impact on allergies, too. 

    Eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies (that aren’t histamine producing), lean meats, whole grains, and minimizing sugar is the best bet for a healthy gut. Plus, a good probiotic can do wonders not only for your digestion, but in reducing allergies. 

    I like to start my patients on MegaSporeBiotic  – one pill a day with meals to start, and up to twice a day. Since fermented foods, which happen to be a great source of probiotics, are high-histamine foods, supplementing with pills is much more effective for allergy sufferers.

     

    4. Supplements and Herbs

    There are several helpful supplements for treating allergies…

    D-Hist: This all-in-one supplement contains Quercetin and Stinging Nettle, along with small doses of NAC, bromelain to add digestion, and Vitamin C, all proven to give allergy relief.

    Zinc is important for all immune health, and is anti-allergic. It also helps improve the sense of smell.

    NAC is effective at thinning mucus, supporting lung function, and is a powerful antioxidant

    Vtamin D important for immune health, reducing and preventing allergies

    Chinese herbal formulas are also extremely helpful in treating both allergy symptoms and reducing allergies. These need to be specially prescribed by a qualified herbalist to match your specific body and symptoms at your next acupuncture appointment.

    5. Get regular acupuncture during your allergy season

    Acupuncture has been proven effective at relieving allergic rhinitis[1], as well as reducing other allergy symptoms from eczema to asthma. For best results, get weekly acupuncture during your severe allergy seasons, and even better, start getting it a few weeks before your regular allergy season. Book your next visit now.

    You can directly order all these helpful supplements for allergy relief here: https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/familytree-allergy-relief

    Or book an appointment for acupuncture and herbal medicine tailored to you at https://acusimple.com/access/7870/#/appointments/1016/

    There is a lot you can do to get relief from your allergies! If you need help, just let us know!
     
    [1] https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/2063-acupuncture-allergy-relief-confirmed

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    Can you feel it? The sun warm on your skin, the daylight lingering a bit longer, the crocuses are in bloom, and trees and bushes are beginning to bud.
     

    Spring is here in the Northern hemisphere!

     
    Even in high-altitude places like Denver, Colorado, where we’re likely to get snow well into May, we’re also blessed with 60º days and bluebird skies in between the snowstorms. You can feel the change in season everywhere you look.
     
    In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is rooted in the Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with the world around you, the change in seasons has a big impact on your body, emotions, and even your state of mind. 
     
    Spring is the time of year when the “Yang” is rising…things are waking up from the stillness and inward focus of Winter. It’s a time of regeneration, renewal, and potential. We can see it in ourselves as “Spring fever,” the feeling that we want to go out DO something!
     

    Each season relates to one of the five elements in TCM, and the Wood element is associated with Spring.

     
    The nature of Wood is growth, reaching out like the tulip bulbs pushing out of the earth. Its nature is in bringing our intentions out into the world. The organ systems associated with Wood are the Liver and Gall Bladder. 
     
    The Liver is the Yin side of Wood energy, called the “Little General” in TCM. It’s the energy behind your long-term Vision and direction for your life.  Healthy Liver energy helps you plan, set goals, and see the big picture. If it’s depleted, you may have trouble with both your metaphorical and physical vision (eyesight) as well as sore, tight tendons and ligaments. Excessive Liver energy can lead to irritability, frustration, and feeling pent-up, along with migraines, high blood pressure, and tinnitus. 
     
    The Gall Bladder in TCM is the Yang side of Wood. Healthy Gall Bladder energy is about taking that Vision into the world with action, decision-making, and using wise judgment. Weak Gall Bladder energy can show up as overwhelm, unable to make decisions, or take action, and even feeling fear about moving forward.
     

    So how can you best support your body, mind, and spirit as we transition from Winter to Spring?

     
    So glad you asked! TCM gives us a great guidebook for being our healthiest and living into our potential at each season. Everything in Spring is about supporting growth and movement, but doing it with ease.
     

    1. EAT GREEN!

     
    Green is the color of the Wood element, and it’s also the best kind of food to eat in the Spring! (I’m not talking about green beer, people.) Fresh Spring vegetables are the very best thing you can eat this time of year, and it’s the tastiest time of year for them, too. Sour foods like citrus and pungent foods like garlic are also excellent in supporting the Liver.
     
    Fill your plate with things like….
    • Fresh baby greens, like spinach, arugula, lettuce
    • Peas
    • Asparagus
    • Artichokes 
    • Fresh Spring herbs like Chives, Parsley, Mint 
    • Spring onions
    • Radish
    • Lemons
    • Grapefruit
    • Oranges
    • Limes
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    Sounds like a lovely Spring meal, doesn’t it? It’s also important to not overburden your Liver by keeping alcohol, greasy foods, and sugar to a minimum. 
     

    2. GET YOUR QI (AND YOUR BODY) MOVING

     
    The Wood element governs the tendons and ligaments, so stretching is one of the best things you can do for your body in the Spring. Staying flexible in your body helps you stay flexible in your mind, too. If there’s anything that will irritate your Liver, it’s being inflexible, preventing natural movement and growth.
     
    It’s good to get moving, too, especially out in nature. Just be mindful not to overdo things. It’s a great time to do some yoga, go for a hike, maybe some Tai Qi in a park. It’s a time to start rebuilding your strength and flexibility after Winter.
     

    3. WRITE YOUR GOALS AND MAKE A PLAN

     
    Take advantage of our natural tendency and start planning and acting on anything that’s been percolating over the Winter. What goals do you have? What lights you up and gets you excited for life? A healthy Wood element helps you to have a clear Vision for yourself and your life, and to make a doable plan to make it happen.  Take some time to sit down and dream big! Then write it down and start to make a plan. The energy of Spring is supporting you!
     

    4. GET ACUPUNCTURE!

     
    Acupuncture is so helpful if you’re feeling stuck in any way in the Springtime. It gets your Qi moving and balances out your whole being. In the Spring, it’s common to see an increase in migraines and other headaches, vision problems like increased floaters, blurriness, or just weak vision. We also see a big uptick in frustration, irritability and feeling stuck or pent up. 
     
    Acupuncture can also help tame your Spring allergies, eczema, and itching, and help you get healthy in time for Summer. Chinese herbal medicine and supplements like quercetin, stinging nettle, and NAC can make a huge improvement, too.
     
    Book your acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jennie today. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better fast. You’ll leave each appointment feeling better than when you came in, and see big improvements over the course of treatment.
     
    Let it be easy, and start taking care of yourself now!

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    Most people love a good massage. They also tend to think of a massage as a luxury more than as healthcare. And goodness knows, a massage can feel luxurious!

    But did you know that massage therapy is good for your health in a variety of ways? 

    Massage’s proven health benefits…

    According to the Mayo Clinic, massage can

    • Reduce stress while increasing relaxation (which benefits us in many ways)
    • Reduce your pain, soreness, and tension in muscles
    • Improve your circulation, both lymphatic and vascular
    • Increase your energy and alertness
    • Lower your heart rate and your blood pressure
    • Improve your immune function

    In addition, studies suggest that massage can also be helpful in relieving

    • Anxiety
    • Digestion
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Headaches
    • Stress-related insomnia
    • Low back pain 
    • Soft tissue sprains and strains
    • TMJ pain
    • Upper back and neck pain

    That’s a lot of whole-body benefit from something as lovely as a massage!

    How often should you get a massage?

    That depends on what you need. If stress management and relaxation are your main goals, a monthly massage may be a great choice for you. If you’ve got chronic low back or neck pain that you’ve struggled with for years, weekly massage for 3-4 weeks, then tapering to every other week, then as needed can do wonders for your chronic pain. If you pulled your hamstring playing tennis, 2-3 sessions can do wonders in getting you back on the court.

    If you’ve had pain for years, it will likely take more sessions to unravel than a newer injury for a few reasons. An old injury has had time to become more fibrosed, which requires some gently “breaking up.”

    Massage therapy does this by stretching, releasing trigger points, getting the blood and lymph moving, and it takes a few sessions to get to the different layers. Old injuries also have had a long time to create “compensation patterns” in other areas, as your body learns to adapt and move around the injury.

    Your massage therapist will work those area, too, to help realign your whole body as your heal from the old injury. 

    A good licensed massage therapist will assess your situation and let you know what you need.

    Monthly massage for overall wellness 

    If you’re looking for a great addition to your wellness routine, monthly massage is an excellent choice. Not only will you feel great during and after your massage, but it can also help maintain your overall health in all the ways listed above, and keep you feeling relaxed, loose, and pain-free. It’s a great and pleasant choice to manage stress and pain, while also making you feel well-cared for.

    Book your massage with Alexandra today. She has over two decades of experience and a lovely heart. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better.

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705

    Hello, anxiety, our old friend…

    Here we are again with another once-in-a-generation (or lifetime) event with worldwide impact. I’ve heard from a lot of people that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing the metaphorical ground they stand on to feel wobbly, once again.

    After all, we’re still trying to figure out our world after two years in a pandemic.    

    It’s no surprise that anxiety levels have skyrocketed worldwide these past two years. While the overwhelming shock of the first few months of the pandemic gradually settled, I’ve witnessed many of my patients struggle with recurring anxiety with each new wave, and even now wondering if we’re through it or not. 

    It has, indeed, been a bit relentless. One big thing after another. These days, anxiety is the #1 most common thing I treat in my clinic. It isn’t always what brings people in initially. It’s almost an afterthought, it’s become so common. It’s our new normal, this high-functioning anxiety. 

    A racing mind is a clue that we have high-functioning anxiety, the feeling that we can’t really relax or let go.

    You might feel nervous, restless, or just tense no matter what you do. You might have trouble falling asleep, or wake up in the night with spinning thoughts that won’t settle down. It can make it hard to concentrate and impact your daily life. Anxiety can manifest as headaches and migraines, stomach problems, dizziness, or a racing heart or palpitations. When it gets really bad, anxiety can make you feel a sense of impending doom, and can even turn into a panic attack.

    So you see, it’s not “just anxiety”.

    It has a big impact on your well-being. 

    So what can you do about it?

    Here are a few tips you can use right now to help calm anxiety.

    Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

    Name 3 things you see, 3 sounds you can hear, and move 3 parts of your body (like your toes, your fingers, and your nose). 

    This helps to ground you into your body and get you out of your head. I like to also touch something and focus on its texture to help get me out of my head, like the texture of my shirt. 

    Practice 6:3 breathing

    A quick hack for calming your nervous system is to do this simple breathing technique that works by reducing the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio in your blood, telling your body it’s ok to relax. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in.

    Blowing out of your mouth like you’re slowly blowing out a candle, breathe out for a count of 6. Then slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of 3. It should feel calm and easy. Repeat this for at least 6 breaths, as often as needed. In fact, the more often you do this, the faster it will help you relax when you really need it.  

    Check your thoughts.  

    Are you fixating on worst-case scenarios? Take a step back mentally and ask yourself what might go right. It can also be really helpful to talk to a friend or loved one. Holding it in can make it feel worse.

    Focus on what you CAN control right now

    This is especially true for events that are totally out of our control, like the pandemic. When these things threaten to overwhelm you, find something you can control right now, like cleaning your kitchen or getting some exercise. Just do something, the more physical the better to get you out of your head. 

    And here are some things you can do habitually to help manage chronic anxiety….

    Minimize caffeine, alcohol, and sugar

    These can all have a stimulating or dysregulating effect on our bodies and moods. Steady as she goes is our motto with anxiety. Eating a nourishing, whole foods diet that doesn’t spike your blood sugar or ramp you up can go a long way in calming anxiety in the long run.

    Get moving 

    Exercise, whether it’s walking, dancing, yoga, or mountain climbing, is so helpful to discharge all the pent-up energy we experience with anxiety. Regular exercise is one of the most effective things you can do to manage anxiety.  Even better, do it outside where fresh air and nature will help soothe your nervous system. 

    Get acupuncture!

    Regular acupuncture is extremely effective at relieving chronic anxiety. It is most helpful to go weekly for at least a month, then taper to once a month, or whatever works best for you. Acupuncture works to regulate and retrain the nervous system to get out of fight or flight and into a more relaxed state. You’ll feel much better by the end of your visit, and the cumulative effect of multiple visits can vastly improve your day-to-day anxiety. 

    Use Herbal Medicine

    Herbal medicine is a safe and natural way to treat anxiety, and importantly, it helps treat the underlying issues that allow anxiety to take hold. We can also treat many of the side effects of anxiety, like insomnia, palpitations, and more, all at once.  A trained herbalist will look at your whole body and use a formula that treats all of you. 

    Anxiety is more common than you think. You are not alone. Let us know if we can help!

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
    720.507.1705