Acupuncture Blog

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Umeboshi plum vinegar is a staple in my kitchen. I usually buy two bottles at a time, and I get a little nervous when my supply starts to run low. I have turned many of my friends onto umeboshi vinegar whenever I serve up a salad at a potluck or a dinner party.

What is umeboshi vinegar? I am glad you asked. Umeboshi, ume, is a Japanese fruit that is kind of like a cross between a plum and an apricot. They are pickled and then dried in the sun. The dried plums can be eaten whole or turned into paste to be used as a condiment. Umeboshi vinegar is the brine left over from the pickling process.

I got hooked on the salty and sour taste of ume plums during a dietary therapy class in acupuncture school. My teacher explained that they are referred to as the “Japanese alka seltzer.” Besides being served up on a plate of white rice or other dishes in Japan, ume plums are a good remedy for an upset stomach, sluggish digestion, and acid reflux. (stay tuned for the next blog post here for more help with an upset stomach)

You can find packages of whole ume plums, ume plum paste, or umeboshi vinegar at A-Market, on South Willow in Manchester, or any natural food store. 
I’ve been buying the vinegar since I was an acupuncture student because it’s the most economical way of enjoying the taste and health benefits of the ume plums.

Ume plums are high in salt and should be consumed sparingly, 1-2 plums per day. I use the vinegar mixed with olive oil as a dressing for salad or cooked vegetables. In my dietary therapy class, I was introduced to cooked millet topped with some soy sauce and umeboshi vinegar as a nutritious breakfast porridge.

For more information on umeboshi plum vinegar, I recommend Paul Pitchford’s book “Healing with Whole Foods.”

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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Last week, a fellow Community Acupuncturist in Leominster, MA, reminded her friends not to mow our laws for a few more weeks because the bees need the dandelions. I happily obliged and took my bike out of the garage for a spin instead of the lawn mower.

It turns out that it’s not just bees that need the dandelions. Other pollinators like butterflies, beetles, and different birds are in need of dandelions right now, while we wait for other flowers to bloom later in the season. You can read more about that in this article from the Guardian.

Everything from the root to the flower of a dandelion can be used as medicine. They are a vitamin-packed food source, or helpful remedies when applied topically for skin conditions, such abscesses or nodules. Dandelions are a part of the Chinese Materia Medica, in the category of herbs that 'clear heat' and 'relieve toxicity'. Basically what that means is that they are good for treating inflammation, especially when red, swollen or painful. Dandelion tea can also be a good remedy for red, swollen, painful joints. According to Paul Pitchford’s book, Healing with Whole Foods, dandelions are a mild diuretic and a mild laxative that will not deplete your body of potassium.

Earlier this morning, I discovered patches of dandelions growing in a wooded area in my neighborhood. I am not picking dandelions in public parks, which are more likely to be sprayed with weed killer or fertilizer. But I did forage a bundle of greens, leaving plenty behind to share with our pollinator friends. After I rinsed the greens, I put them in a pot and poured a tea kettle’s worth of hot water over them to make tea. They are steeping as I write this.

You can also dry dandelions in bundles or put them in a food dehydrator. If you are feeling really ambitious you can make a blooming dandelion tea ball, like in this video.

For more information about the benefits of dandelions, you can read more here. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to enjoy a cup of dandelion tea.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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This post is to follow up on a patient request: pain behind the ear. Here's the video I put together on the MAS YouTube page to walk us through, along with the information below.

One quick way to get started is with this video from our friend, Stacey Kelsey at Boise Acupuncture Coop. She is focusing specifically on a point on the back of the head between the neck and the back of the ear, Gallbladder 20 (GB20). If the headache behind your ear feels better when you apply pressure, then you may want to gently massage all along the ridge of your occipital bone behind your ear inward until you reach the center of your spine. You can even gently massage the small space just behind your ear lobe, this point is Sanjaio 17 (SJ17).

We are going to use some points on our hands, wrists, and feet to treat pain in the ear, specifically on the Gallbladder and Sanjaio channels. These two channels meet at the ear and they each sport acupuncture points around the ear. At the clinic, whenever we are treating any kind of ear conditions, we are likely to include points on these two channels in your treatment.

The first points on the hand that I recommend are Sanjaio 2 (SJ2) Sanjaio 3 (SJ3). They are located below and above the knuckle between your pinky and ring finger. Press these points on the affected side 20-30 times. If you end up feeling a bit of ache as you press, good! Don't hurt yourself here, but a mild ache in the area of these points when used is a positive. It means they've been activated.


According to 'A Manuel of Acupuncture' by Peter Deadman, San Jaio 3  “is the most important distal point for treating ear disorders due to any (reason).” He even explains that if someone has a blocked ear, especially from traveling by airplane, SJ 3 can be massaged while they hold their nose. If you are at home with someone who has a blocked ear, give it a try and let us know if it’s helpful.

Next, we will travel two finger widths from the wrist and massage the space in between the heads of the two bones in your lower arm.

This area/point is called Sanjaio 5 (SJ5). It’s another good point for ear pain, and it’s especially good for all kinds of headaches, especially on the side of the head, where the ear is located.

The last two areas that we are going to massage are on the opposite foot. (As a note you can always massage the points on both sides of your body to get all your bases covered).  Find the space on the top of your foot between the pinky toe and it’s neighboring 4th toe. Massage in between those two bones and in the space between the two toes. Here, you are stimulating three different acupuncture points called, Gallbladder 41, 42, and 43.

All of these points are good for a headache on the (opposite) side of the head, and disorders of the eyes and ears.

We hope this is helpful. Please keep the requests coming. We are always looking for topics that we can write about and share with you.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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We all miss seeing you. We hope you and loved ones are in good health.

If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You can also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family. 

Thank you very much for your support and solidarity - both go a long way these days.


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(Accompanying video lives here!)

There are different types of headaches. In the acupuncture world, we choose different points depending on:

1) where the headache is located and,
2) what kind of pain is experienced: throbbing, stabbing, tightness, pressure, etc.


In this post, we are going to talk about two points that can be used separately or in combination for headaches and other pain.

The first point is Large Intestine 4 (LI 4). This point is located on the web of your hand between your thumb and index finger.

This is one of the most commonly used points in acupuncture because it’s good for so many things, headaches being at the top of the list. The Large Intestine channel starts on the index finger, runs up the arm, and ends on the face, right next to the nose. LI 4 is the most important point for any kind of pain or disorder of the face. This makes it a go to for frontal headaches (think forehead), sinus headaches, swelling and pain in the face and eyes, and sinus congestion. It’s also great for toothaches, nose bleeding, and jaw tension.

LI 4 is also one of the best general points for pain. If you are in any kind of pain at all and you don’t know where to get started with acupressure, just remember LI 4 in the web of your hand. Just just pressing and rubbing this one point 10-30 times can go a long way.

Our second point is Liver 3, located on the web of your foot between the big toe and the second toe. The Liver channel starts on the inside of the big toe, runs up the inner leg, through the torso and rib cage. Divergent branches of the Liver channel run up the chest, neck and face to the very top of the head. Treating points on the Liver channel, especially LV 3 is an excellent way to relieve a frontal headache or a headache on the very top of the head. LV3 is also a good point to stimulate for dizziness, blurred or cloudy vision, or redness and irritation of the eyes.

The combination of LI4 and LIV 3 are referred to as the “Four Gates” when used together as a point combination. That is how important these two points are -- when they get together they get their own band name, like Simon and Garfunkel, or better yet, Wham!
These points are excellent for getting your energy moving like George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. If you are having a headache or any pain anywhere, or if you just feel a little depressed or irritable, try massaging these points. You’ll do the jitterbug.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents for Manchester & Nashua facilities while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You may also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family. 

Thank you very much for your support and solidarity.

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Many of you know how well acupuncture works for stress, anxiety, and insomnia. If that wasn’t the main reason that led you to try acupuncture, you soon found out how great a few needles and an acu-nap can be for seriously chilling out and hitting the reset button.

If we weren’t already stressed or anxious at times before COVID-19 took over our lives, here we are now. The hardest part for the MAS staff is coming to terms with the frustration of knowing that we have a useful tool to share, but have to set it aside for the time being. This is probably frustrating for many of you as well!

We can however, continue to produce acupressure videos and share other resources, in the time being. And we will continue to do just that.

Our colleague, and Manchester Acupuncture Studio alumn, Justine Meyers, made this wonderful video for relieving stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

Cathy Keenan, at Toronto Community Acupuncture, produced this super simple one-point video to calm an agitated mind.

Laura Berglund, at Wasatch Community Acupuncture, in Salt Lake City Utah, created this lovely stress reduction video using acupressure, massage, and gentle stretching that you can do while seated in a chair.

Music and sound therapy is another useful tool to reduce stress. A group of musicians called Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create music that is geared towards stress and anxiety reduction. You can read more about that here and you can find ten hours (!!) of their music in this YouTube video.

The last thing I want to mention is acupuncture’s role in helping people cope with stress and trauma in times of man-made and natural disasters. The effects of COVID-19 are compared with the devastation of the September 11 attacks. After 9-11, licensed acupuncturists, and people trained in ear acupuncture (Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists), provided treatments at stress reduction clinics around lower Manhattan at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and nearby fire stations, for six or seven years following that historically catastrophic event.

Learn more about it in this short video from our friend Laura Cooley.


I mention this, because even when things return to “normal”, we will still need tools for stress management, including acupuncture. We very much look forward to seeing you, in person, on the other side of this, once it is deemed safe enough to carry on with business in clinic.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents for Manchester & Nashua facilities while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You may also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family. 

Thank you very much for your support and solidarity.

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(Video demonstration with Elizabeth)

Shoulder pain and neck pain are some of the most common things we treat with acupuncture. It makes sense that we got a request on how to use acupressure for those issues. I admit that I’m spending extra time on my couch watching Netflix and it’s giving me shoulder and neck pain. My new favorite show is Kim’s Convenience, check it out.

There are different types of shoulder pain. This article is specifically focusing on shoulder pain that affects the shoulder blade directly. We are going to use two acupressure points on the pinky side of hand, Small Intestine 3 and Small Intestine 4. These two points are also effective for pain of the neck and back.

We are using the Small Intestine Channel because it runs up the outside of the arm and zig zags across the shoulder blade.

Small Intestine 3 is on the pinky side of your hand above your first knuckle. For those of us familiar with EFT, it's the 'karate chop' point.

You can easily locate Small Intestine 4 by traveling up the side of your hand just before you get to your wrist bone.

Press and rub these two points on the same side as your affected shoulder. You can alternate between the two points. If you have neck pain, gently turn your head from sides to side.  If you want to take this a step further, you can massage your shoulder blade with a foam roller or a tennis ball while you stimulate points SI 3 and SI 4 on the side of your hand.

By massaging your shoulder blade directly, you will be stimulating six or seven additional points on the Small Intestine channel. All of them are good for shoulder, upper arm, and elbow pain. They are also good for opening the chest and easing a cough with phlegm. Many of you have noticed by now that with acupuncture we commonly needle points that are opposite from where you may experience discomfort. If you are home right now with someone who has a cough, be sure to give them a back rub, especially on and in between the shoulder blades.

Give this a shot and let us know if it’s helpful. And, please keep the requests coming.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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We all miss all of you! We hope to see you again and in good health.

If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You can also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family. 
Thank you very much for your support and solidarity.

 

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(Video demonstration with Elizabeth)

This year it felt like spring started in February. At MAS, we were treating allergies and sinus congestion in the weeks leading up to the first day of spring and before our temporary closure due to the viral pandemic. Speaking of which, let's make sure we can tell the difference between the two patterns of illness:

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(h/t Wei Laboratories)

We know you are at home still struggling with sinus headaches and stuffy noses, because we are right there with you. We are going to give you three good acupressure points, located on the face that you can massage to get some relief for your seasonal allergies. Just be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after you do this.


In addition to relieving sinus congestion and discomfort from seasonal allergies, all of these points are good points to stimulate for someone who is experiencing facial paralysis. If you know someone who is struggling with this issue, please pass this information along to them.

The nice thing about acupressure points for sinus congestion and seasonal allergies is that points are practically instinctual. Wherever you feel pressure on your face, apply pressure to that area. For example, If you get a sinuses headache in between your eyebrows that makes you want to squeeze that exact spot, great, go ahead and do that.

Which leads us to our first point, Bladder 2, on the inside end of each eyebrow. You can press down and massage each point, or you can pinch each point between your two fingers. After that, you can even pinch and massage, working your way along each eye browns. This is a great way to relieve some tension from a frontal headache. Bladder 2 is not only a good point for a runny nose and sneezing, it benefits the eyes and can relieve pain or itchiness of the eyes or twitching eyelids, usually caused stress.

Our second point for sinus congestion is for sinus congestion in your cheeks, which is exactly where this point is located. Stomach 3 is located directly below the center of your eyes, along the cheekbone. After you apply pressure to this point, you can massage along the entire cheek bone. You might find some other areas of tenderness that can open your sinuses and ease some tension in your face and jaw.

Our last point is also along the cheekbone, on either side of your nose, Large Intestine 20. In addition to alleviating nasal congestion, this point is good for a runny nose, sneezing, and loss of sense of smell.

We hope this is helpful to all of you. My sinuses are much more open now that I have had the chance to sit down and practice some acupressure on myself.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp

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We all miss all of you. We hope to see you again and in good health.

If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You can also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family. 
Thank you very much for your support and solidarity.

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We can’t stress enough just how useful acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is for various gynecological disorders such as dysmenorrhea, (heavy painful periods) or amenorrhea (no periods). We want to share with you any easy tips that you can use at home to treat yourself for various conditions.

Today we are going to talk about acupressure on Spleen 9 and Spleen 8 to ease menstrual cramps and back pain.  I'll take us on a video walk-through, here as well.

To locate Spleen 8 and 9, you can click on the link above and find them on the inside of your calf, just below your knee along your tibia (shin bone). These two points are only a few inches apart, which makes it easy to apply acupressure on both of them at the same time. This entire area tends sensitive on most people, particularly women. Massage the area with medium pressure while taking some nice deep, relaxing breaths. This should help to relax any abdominal cramps or low back pain associated with monthly periods.

Both of these points are good for treating abdominal fullness. You can also try this for stomach cramps related to intestinal urgency and other kinds of digestive discomfort.

And that’s it. We love this tip because it’s easy to do and very effective. Let us know how it works for you.

We miss all of you. We hope to see you again and in good health.

 - MAS acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp



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If you are able, we welcome donations of any amount to help us cover the rents while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic via a current GoFundMe campaign. You can also This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinics, and/or simply share this blog post with friends and family.  We thank you for your support and solidarity.

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From MAS acu-punk, Elizabeth Ropp:

Who doesn’t love a spicy warm cup of chai tea? I admit, I have at least three different varieties of chai tea bags at any given time. Last weekend, I was inspired to make chai from whole dried herbs by a video made by my favorite YouTube yoga teacher.

Chai tea tastes really good. It’s also a drink that offers many health benefits, particularly for warming the body, promoting healthy digestion, opening the sinuses, and improving circulation.

Chai tea is typically associated with India and Ayurvedic medicine. But just about all of the spices in chai tea are found in the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica.

Black pepper, cinnamon sticks, clove, and star anise are in the category of herbs that Warm the Interior and Expel Cold.

Cardamom and Coriander are herbs/spices are aromatic herbs that transform dampness or stickier body fluids (think phlegm). Like pepper, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and clove, they also benefit and promote healthy digestion. They are also particularly good for resolving phlegm and mucus in the chest or in the stomach.

Fresh Ginger is in the catagory of Warm, Acrid Herbs that release the exterior. This makes it a great herb to relieve body aches when you feel like you are catching a cold. Like the other herbs, it enhances digestion and relieves stomach pain. It also relieves a phlegmy cough.

I like Yoga with Adriene’s Basic Yogi Tea Recipe and I’ve made my own additions:

Bring a pot of water to boil on your stove, about 8 cups.

20 Black Peppercorns
15 Whole Cloves
3-5 Cinnamon Sticks
20 Cardamom Seed (split)
7 Slices of Fresh Ginger
1 black tea bag (optional)

Simmer on the stove for 30 minutes to 2 hours and then strain and drink hot or cold. You can add any kind of milk or sweetener to your taste level or drink it straight.

I like to add Star Anise and Coriander seeds to my chai. Other variations include fennel seeds. Chai is versatile. If you have some of these ingredients, but not all, you can still make a tasty cuppa chai.

If you are not sure where to find some of these ingredients, In Manchester, I recommend the Saigon Market on Union Street, The Spice Center on Valley Street, and A-Market on South Willow Street. All of these shops are taking good precautions right now with respect to wearing gloves and facemasks and asking shoppers to keep a six foot distance while waiting at the cash register.

All of us at Manchester Acupuncture Studio miss all of you. We hope to see you again and in good health.
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At this time we welcome donations of any amount via the MAS GoFundMe campaign to help us cover the rent while we are closed during the viral outbreak.
We are also welcoming This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinic. Lastly, thanks for sharing any of our blog posts with friends and loved-ones.  We thank you for your fellowship.

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Kudzu and Cinnamon Tea to reduce a fever, and more. - MAS acu-punk Elizabeth Ropp

Years ago, when I still lived alone, I woke up one night feeling feverish. I went to my kitchen cabinet, rather than the medicine cabinet, for medicine. There I found kudzu starch and cinnamon powder among my other herbs and spices. I mixed them up in a sauce pan with some apple juice. I sipped the connection on my couch and wrapped myself in a blanket. I felt the fever drain away from my body and I went back to bed.

Now that we are in the mode of stocking our kitchen cabinets with essentials to keep ourselves and our families healthy, I am going to share this remedy that my teacher, Dr. Lilliane Papin, taught me and my classmates, during acupuncture school.

You are going to need three ingredients:

1 Tbls. of Kudzu Starch
A few dashes of Cinnamon powder
1 cup of organic apple juice
Just enough cold water to dissolve the Kudzu starch

Kudzu, the invasive plant that grows all over the Southeast, is widely used in Japan for thicken soups and sauces.
In the Chinese Materia Medica, it is known as Ge Gen.

It is useful for many reasons:

Reduce a fever
Balance blood sugar
Ease neck, shoulder tension, and headaches
Alleviate diarrhea
Relieve hot flashes
Reduce alcohol consumption

Cinnamon is also a Chinese Herb, known as Gui Zhi.

It’s also useful to:

Prevent colds
Reduce phlegm that is stuck in the chest
Balance blood sugar
Reduce arthritic pain, especially pain that feels worse during cold damp weather

Apple Juice is high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation. It is a therapeutic food to hydrate and cool down the body and moisten a dry throat or soothe a dry cough.

1.Heat the apple juice in a saucepan on a low heat.

2. add a few dashes of cinnamon powder

3. Dissolve the Kudzu in a little cold or room temperature water. You need to do this so the Kudzu won’t turn into a ball of dough when you add it to the warming apple juice.

4. Once the kudzu starch is dissolved, you can pour it into the warm apple juice, keep stirring so it doesn’t get lumpy. The juice should thicken a bit.

When your tea is hot enough pour it into a mug and drink it hot.

Kudzu starch can also be used as a replacement for cornstarch for thickening soups, gravy, and other sauces. This will give your recipes more therapeutic benefit. Dr. Papin would always quote Hippocrates in her classes and workshops:

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

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All of us at MAS miss all of you. We hope to see you again and in good health.

We are currently welcoming any and all tax-deductible donations via GoFundMe to help us cover the rents while we are closed during the virus pandemic.
We'd also welcome This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as another way to support the clinic. We thank you for your generosity.

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