Acupuncture as Preventative Medicine

“The sages of antiquity did not treat those who were already sick, but those who were not sick… When a disease has already broken out and is only then treated, would that not be just as late as to wait for thirst before digging a well, or to wait to go into battle before casting weapons?”

(Nei Jing)

Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture & herbal therapy as a means of preventative medicine

In studying acupuncture in the West we have focused mainly on its potential as a treatment for specific disorders.  For example, research has shown that acupuncture can relieve chronic low back pain, dental pain, and migraine headaches. It can relieve the pain of fibromyalgia and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Acupuncture can aid recovery from sports injuries. It has also been found to help with emotional pain syndromes and reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Yet, we do not focus on acupuncture as part of preventative medicine.

Today, in the United States, the vast majority of patients only seek out acupuncture treatments once they are feeling pain or sickness. 

Well, it turns out that traditionally, acupuncture is used mostly as a means of preventative medicine rather than a treatment for ailments. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on keeping the body healthy and avoiding illness.  Ancient practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine would administer regular treatments to everyone in the community as a sort of ‘tune up’ to keep them well. These tune ups would help avoid the imbalances that can weaken an immune system and lead to illness. Acupuncture treatments were used in combination with herbs and nutritional counseling to maintain health and wellness. 

Regular acupuncture treatments can keep your body balanced and strengthen your immune system.

Take Control

Let’s face it, our world is full of risk and everywhere we turn there are endless stories of sickness and disease. Every day we are alerted to a new threat from the latest flu or COVID variant. So, why not take the best possible care of yourself and prevent illness? Find a practitioner you are comfortable with and develop a plan for achieving and maintaining your body’s optimal health. It just makes sense. Keeping yourself healthy is a heck of a lot easier and much less expensive than trying to diagnose, fight, and recover from an ailment.

Ready to take control of your health? Schedule a visit today and let us help you on your journey!

Childhood & Adolescent Depression

“Most experts would agree with me that there is more stress today than in previous generations. Stress triggers depression and mood disorders, so that those who are predisposed to it by their creative wiring or genes are pretty much guaranteed some symptoms of depression at the confusing and difficult time of adolescence. I think modern lifestyles -lack of community and family support, less exercise, no casual and unstructured technology-free play, less sunshine and more computer -factors into the equation.”

Therese J. Borchard, author of Beyond Blue

How do I recognize childhood & adolescent depression?

Growing up is hard. Your body is constantly changing. Your emotions are often unexpected and difficult to control. You have little to no control over your circumstances. Social media constantly presents you with new unattainable images of perfection. And hey, don’t forget a pandemic which limits your social engagement. The youth of today are challenged in ways none of us could have imagined. Incidents of childhood and adolescent depression are on the rise.

It is perfectly normal to feel blue once in a while. However, children and adolescents are increasingly being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and mental illness. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, common symptoms of depression in children and adolescents may include:

  • Feeling or appearing depressed, sad, tearful, or irritable
  • Not enjoying things as much as they used to
  • Spending less time with friends or in after school activities
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Feeling tired or having less energy
  • Feeling like everything is their fault or they are not good at anything
  • Having more trouble concentrating
  • Caring less about school or not doing as well in school
  • Having thoughts of suicide or wanting to die

Parents, trying their best to help their sons and daughters, are turning to their family doctors for help. Doctors, in an effort to help patients using the methods they have learned, are prescribing medications for young people at an alarming rate. According to a recent article in Science Daily, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) has recently published a study confirming that depression in childhood or adolescence is associated with higher levels of adult anxiety and substance use disorders, worse health and social functioning, less financial and educational achievement, and increased criminality.

What can I do?

Childhood and adolescent depression, like many mental illnesses, can be very subjective. The best course of treatment truly depends upon the patient and their individual needs. There are an abundance of contributing factors that can lead to an overwhelming list of symptoms. Therefore, there is no one size fits all path to greater mental health. However, frequently there is an underlying energetic imbalance that is contributing to the severity of symptoms. This is where acupuncture can be enormously beneficial. 

Acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with other therapies. ‘Talk therapy’ and or medication can be used as well. Together they can all help to safely treat the symptoms and perhaps some of the underlying causes of depression. Acupuncture can safely aid in the reduction of stress and anxiety. It can also help with headaches, weight loss, weight gain, loss of sleep, and lack of energy. All common symptoms associated with depression. The goal of acupuncture is to create a balance of the systems within your body and open the energy channels within you. When your body is in balance, you are in a better position to combat the external forces contributing to stress and anxiety which could be causing depression. 

It is important that before any course of treatment is chosen, you speak with a professional. Whether treating depression in yourself or your loved one, you should always work with someone trained in mental health to plan your path to wellness. Oftentimes, that path will require a combination of treatment forms and they should all be administered by professionals.

Where do I start?

If you have questions about where to start, your acupuncture practitioner or family doctor are both a wise first step. If you would like to seek assistance from someone outside of your close network, please consider contacting one of the following:

Don’t Let Pain Put a Damper on Your Winter

Like it or not, winter is just around the corner. Some folks love the winter and embrace the chance to enjoy the outdoor activities only available during this season. Others recoil at the thought of ice, snow, and cold wind. One thing we can all agree on is that winter injuries can be debilitating. How many people do you know who have fallen on the ice? What about the pain in your shoulder or lower back after shoveling snow? Or the countless injuries suffered while skiing or snowboarding? Pain like that can ruin your season and cause depression in addition to physical discomfort.

May we offer a suggestion? Okay, perhaps two.

First, be proactive.

  • It takes only moments to injure yourself severely. So, why not take some time now to condition your muscles and prepare for the activities ahead of you? It takes 6 weeks to condition your muscles. Make an appointment with your wellness practitioner to develop a plan. If you begin a regimen now, your muscles will be ready to hit the slopes or head out snowshoeing come late November. They will be conditioned to the strain and movements that these winter activities present and you will suffer less injury. Less injury, less pain. Less pain, less time spent on the couch cursing yourself, or the snow, for a tiny mistake. 

Second, treat pain immediately.

  • Hey, they’re called accidents for a reason. You probably didn’t plan on twisting your knee or straining your back, but you did. Now what? Seek treatment. It may take 6 weeks to condition your muscles, but it takes months to repair connective tissue. The longer you wait to address the issue, the longer you are out of the game. If you feel pain, contact your wellness practitioner. It may be a simple treatment that has you back to normal immediately. It may be more severe and you may be facing multiple treatments and longer recovery. However, if you do not seek professional insight, you could injure yourself further and full recovery may not be an option.

Enjoy The Season!

  • Winter can be miserable, but it can also be magical. Let us help you enjoy the season to the fullest. We believe in an all encompassing approach to health, wellness, and recovery. We believe that pain is meant to alert us to an issue and then be treated. Pain is not to be suffered chronically or ignored. If you are feeling pain or would like to begin a wellness regimen, call us. We are happy to design a treatment plan specific to your body, your needs, and your goals.

Acupuncture & Sports Injuries

We’ve all been there. The weather is perfect, you’ve managed to carve out some time for yourself, and you are enjoying the best run, ride, hike, swim, or climb you have had in months. And then you feel it. That quick pain that lets you know you have just done something ever so slightly wrong and injured yourself. Beyond the physical pain, the mental anguish of knowing you will need to train and heal properly before going out again can be crushing. Whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, the thought of taking a break and starting over can sink your spirit.

Athletes and trainers at all levels are rediscovering the benefits of eastern medicine. Acupuncture, herbs, and proper nutrition are a welcome alternative to the ‘one size fits all’ approach of most western medicine practitioners. More and more we are seeing NFL players, MLB players and Olympic athletes seek out acupuncture as a means to speed healing, relieve pain, and increase muscle strength and stamina.

Our bodies are intricate systems and acupuncture is designed to intuitively treat and strengthen the body as a whole rather than focusing solely on one or two problem areas. This allows the systems within your body to align and work together towards healing and recovery much more efficiently. Your practitioner will work with you to design a personal treatment. A treatment not only specific to your injury, but specific to the needs of your body. Thus producing lasting results and oftentimes enhancing future performance.

Balance Method Acupuncture

What is pain?

Pain Is Just Stagnation


When dealing with chronic, debilitating pain, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the emotions and feelings that long-lasting pain can create in the body. We can become entrenched in our stories behind the pain, the “what ifs,” and the possible self-victimization tied up with it. 


But what if I told you that the root cause of pain was simply stagnation? 


Beneath the fears, worries, and stories bound up in your personal pain, qi and blood stagnation lie at the core.  If you can think of pain in terms of stagnation or blockages, then dealing with pain becomes more manageable. Why? 


Because qi and blood stagnation CAN be moved, regardless of the story hidden behind the pain itself.


So let’s unpack this idea of stagnation a bit. What exactly do qi stagnation and blood stagnation mean? 


It’s easiest to think of qi as the energy force that moves us and holds us together. When qi circulates, blood circulates. If qi is stagnant, blood becomes stagnant because there is no energy to move it around (Sun, 2007).


800 years ago, Li Dong Yuan, a famous Chinese physician wrote:  


“Tong zhi bu tong. Bu tong zhi tong.“  If there is free flow, there is no pain. 


How does this play into our experience of pain in the body? 


Qi stagnation is characterized by dull pain and pain that moves around (including pain that is referred to other places). Some of you have experienced this in the clinic when we’ve chased the pain from one area of your neck to another by using distal needles in your legs. 


Blood stagnation is characterized by pain that gets worse with pressure and doesn’t move around. Since qi stagnation often provokes blood stagnation, both pain pictures can exist at the same time, explaining why pain can sometimes feel localized, and at other times refer to other places (Yajuan, 2009). 


To illustrate, let’s use a scenario we see all the time in the clinic:  You’ve had a really stressful month at work and you’ve stopped your daily exercise routine, spending most of your time sitting at your office desk. Your body starts feeling tight and tense. Frustration and agitation start to appear, as well as a dull, gnawing pain in your shoulders and neck, where you hold the tension.  The longer this goes on, the worse it gets. Now imagine this happening for years of your life!


What We Can Do About It + Western Medicine’s Take


Acupuncture is a powerful tool that can help MOVE stagnation.  It promotes the movement of qi in a direct, subtle, and impactful way. 


Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been around for more than 8,000 years.  This ancient practice continues to be used and is recognized today as a viable tool for addressing pain at its “root” as well as its symptomatic “branches.” 


At Boulder East West Acupuncture we still sometimes get asked, “Does acupuncture really work?” or “Is acupuncture even recognized as a legitimate health option in the U.S.?” 


Although acupuncture is one of the most ancient health therapeutics on the planet, Western Medicine has only recently begun to recognize its virtues. 


And it happens to be particularly good at dealing with the reduction of pain, both acute and chronic. Acupuncture has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be a safe and effective modality for managing many different types of pain conditions.  It is being accepted by more and more insurance companies who see it as a cost saving measure that can keep people from becoming dependent on pharmaceutical pain killers.


Plus its methodology is fully recognizable from biomedical and physiologic perspectives (Fan et al., 2017). Acupuncture has been medically recognized to promote blood flow (which affects pretty much everything from hormones to nutrients we absorb from our food and beyond), stimulate neurotransmitters (aka helping to “rewire your brain”), relax muscles and tendons, and even promote the release of oxytocin and endorphins (our “feel-good” hormones).


So even though the root of acupuncture might discuss difficult to measure things like “qi” and “energy,” there are actual physiologic changes happening that Western medicine is beginning to understand and acknowledge.


Contact the Boulder East West Acupuncture & Wellness Center for more information on how you can take care of your pain with acupuncture.


Any other topics you’d like me to cover in future newsletters?  Reach out to me at




Fan, A.Y., Miller, D.W., Bolash, B., Bauer, M., McDonald, J., Faggert, S., … & Pang, J. (2017). Acupuncture’s role in solving the opioid epidemic: Evidence, cost-effectiveness, and care availability for acupuncture as a primary, non-pharmacologic method for pain relief and management-white paper 2017. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 15(6), 411-425. 


Scheid, V. (2013). Depression, constraint, and the liver: (Dis)assembling the treatment of emotion-related disorders in Chinese medicine. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 37(1), 30-58. 


Sun, P. (2007). Management of postoperative pain with acupuncture. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Limited.


Yajuan, W. (2009). Micro-acupuncture therapeutics. Micro-acupuncture in practice. 


Leaky What?? Leaky Gut!

Leaky What?? Leaky Gut!

If you’ve ever dealt with digestive woes, you’ve probably heard the phrase “leaky gut”. Leaky gut syndrome has become a trendy, catch-all diagnosis for many gut-related issues and digestive imbalances. The name, however, can be slightly misleading.

Leaky gut typically refers to increased permeability of the intestinal walls. This occurs when the tight junctions of our epithelial cells become looser, or “leaky” (Byers, n.d.).

But is the gut actually “leaky”? Not exactly… Believe it or not, intestinal permeability is actually a normal phenomenon. In their natural, healthy state our intestines are selectively permeable membranes. They choose what to take in and what to keep out so that we can properly absorb nutrients in our food. Nutrition would not actually occur if your gut was completely impermeable (Yarnell, 2011).

When leaky gut begins it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden the gut is leaking all of its contents out into our bloodstream. What it means is that key junctions in the gut’s membrane are actually functioning poorly, allowing more substances to cross over into our bloodstream than normal. The gut membrane has become hyperpermeable.  This can be caused by a combination of possible triggers.

While leaky gut syndrome is just starting to be professionally researched, we are just starting to demystify what is really going on in that dark, secretive gut of ours.  Since leaky gut’s actual mechanisms are just starting to be understood the term is often used to describe a set of symptoms that indicates an underlying imbalance in the body.

Other Possible Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Another reason why leaky gut syndrome can be so confusing is that not everyone’s symptoms looks the same. The label “leaky gut,” often encases a broad array of different digestive symptoms including gas, bloating, abdominal distention, diarrhea, constipation, and more.

It all starts in the gut, and what starts in the gut doesn’t usually stay in the gut.

Digestive issues are often connected to other symptoms that we can experience throughout the rest of the body.

Common symptoms experienced alongside digestive issues include: headaches, chronic fatigue, brain fog, memory impairment, lowered immunity, joint pain, skin rashes, anxiety, depression, and many others.

Additionally, the gut has its own nervous system. It produces 80% of our serotonin for example, and communicates with other organs and systems in the body (particularly the brain) which can lead to a cascade of potential issues further down the road.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

Like most health conditions, the direct triggers of leaky gut are always unique to the individual and can vary substantially from person to person.

Common triggers that can impact leaky gut-type symptoms in the body include: STRESS (this is a big one!!), medications, NSAIDS (ibuprofen in particular), antacids, oral birth control pills, alcohol, infections (viral, bacterial, and fungal), impaired liver function, and food sensitivities.

What Can YOU Do About It?

Here’s some good news:

If you struggle with leaky gut, there is hope!

Your gut can be repaired using completely natural methods. Be forewarned, however, healing the gut isn’t usually an instant fix and will require a healthy amount of personal diligence in identifying and addressing your own triggers.

At our clinic we have found Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to be very effective support for your journey back to health.

One of the first things we try to do is to get you out of the stress response and into the relaxation response.   

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have the potential to get you unstuck from the fight or flight conditioning courtesy of our modern world.  

When we finally get unstuck, our bodies are able to self-organize and we are finally able to self-heal.   

In our clinic we use specific nutritional therapeutics that have been proven to restore healthy gut function. L-glutamine and zinc are two that play essential roles in helping rebuild the lining of the gut by modifying the tight junctions of the intestinal walls.

All Disease Begins In The Gut

Hippocrates said it long ago: “all disease begins in the gut.”  As we learned in this article, leaky gut symptoms don’t only present in the gut itself, but can affect our cognition, emotions, and even our sleep!

Curious to learn more about leaky gut syndrome? Looking for support with your digestive issues? Contact the Boulder East West Acupuncture & Wellness Center for more information and to schedule an appointment.



Byers, S. (n.d.). What is “leaky gut syndrome”? Retrieved from:

Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs (Vol 1). Boulder, Co: Lotus Press.

Yarnell, E. (2011). Natural approach to gastroenterology. East Wenatchee, WA: Healing Mountain Publishing, Inc.

The Colorado sun is very powerful. Protect yourself with these basic pieces of advice from EWG.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US  – more than 2 million Americans are diagnosed every year, it’s 15% higher in Colorado than the rest of the nation.  A 2004 survey found that 45.1% of white adults in Colorado had at least one sunburn in the past year. 1

So before you head out, check out EWG’s 2014 Sunscreen Guide to find top-rated sunscreens.

Sunscreens are NOT created equal!

I pulled these reactions from an email from EWG.  Hilarious.

1. No spray sunscreens!

Convenient, but they may pose serious risks if inhaled and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.

No spray sunscreens!

2. Super-high SPFs (SPF 50 or higher) are not your friend.

SPF – sun protection factor – refers only to protection against UVB radiation and has little to do with protecting you from UVA rays – the ones that accelerate skin aging and have been linked to skin cancer.

Super-high SPFs (SPF 50 or higher) are not your friend.

3. Oxybenzone can mimic estrogen.

That’s right, estrogen. A number of sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates skin, gets into the bloodstream and may act like estrogen in the body! It can also trigger allergic reactions.

Oxybenzone can mimic estrogen.

4. Retinyl palmitate may harm your skin.

On sun-exposed skin, the retinyl palmitate found in some sunscreens has been shown to speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

Retinyl palmitate may harm your skin.

5. Skip sunscreen/bug repellent combos.

Studies suggest that in some cases chemicals that filter harmful ultraviolet rays can interact with insect repelling chemicals in ways that decrease sunburn protection. Also, if you apply these products every two hours (as you should for proper sun protection!), you may be overexposed to the repellent chemicals.

Skip sunscreen/bug repellent combos.

6. Keep away from sunscreen powders and towelettes.

Even the FDA’s weak sunscreen rules bar these products! Their level of protection is quite dubious.

Keep away from sunscreen powders and towelettes.

7. Seriously – no tanning oils!

Tanning oils are just a bad idea. They barely – if at all – protect you from the sun.

Seriously – no tanning oils!


The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The EWG Action Fund is a legislative advocacy organization that uses EWG research to promote healthy and sustainable policies.

HEADQUARTERS 1436 U St. NW, Suite 100 | Washington, DC 20009 | (202) 667-6982


Mother’s Day Giving Day

Please help us help the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence.

Next Saturday (May 10th) I’m teaming up with Samhitta Jones and Community Acupuncture Boulder to raise money for the Safehouse Alliance. $40 for 1-hour acupuncture sessions. All proceeds go to the Safehouse. Please spread the word!

Call to make an appointment!  303-828-6759

Call to make an appointment! 303-828-6759

21 Day Spring Detox Program

Spring DetoxEastern Medicine believes that in order to return to optimal health we need to cleanse our bodies each spring and fall. It’s still cold outside, but spring is coming.

Boulder East West Acupuncture and Community Acupuncture Clinic are teaming up to offer you a 21 day detox program that combines acupuncture, foot reflexology, and some amazing cutting-edge nutritional support. It’s all designed to clean out your gastrointestinal system, assist in detoxifying your liver, and reduce overall inflammation.

The 21 Day Spring Detox Program will begin on March 22nd and continue to April 13th. Email or call 303-828-6759 to reserve your spot or with questions about the program.

Check back for more details as we get closer to the start of the program.