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Happy Thanksgiving: Acupressure for Digestive Upset!

by Heather Fairall, L.Ac.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! 'Tis the season for over-indulgences! I have put together a list of helpful acupuncture points that can be used for digestive problems. Press and hold these points for 1-2 minutes for best effect every 5-10 minutes or until symptoms subside. As always, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Aim for moderation this Holiday Season.  

large intestine 4

  Large Intestine 4: Caution: do not use with pregnancy. For regulating the intestines: diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain and bloating. LI4 is also a great acupressure point for headache, neck and jaw pain.  
Location: On the top side of the hand, on the web between thumb and index finger. To locate, squeeze the thumb against the base of the index finger. The point is located on the highest point of the bulge of the muscle, level with the end of the crease.

St 36

  Stomach 36: "Master point for the abdomen": great for gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea. St 36 is also a good point for boosting your immune system and combats fatigue.  
Location: On the front of the leg, one hand width (four fingers) below the kneecap, on the outside, in the depression between the shinbone and the leg muscle.


  Pericardium 6: Used for nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, heartburn, and low appetite. P6 is also a great point for calming, and can be helpful for anxiety and insomnia.  
Location: On the middle of the palm-side of the wrist, in the depression between the two tendons, 2 finger widths proximal to the wrist crease.

Acupuncture Now Covered For L & I Claim Holders In WA State

Exciting news for Acupuncture in Washington State! L & I is now allowing for acupuncture services for patients with lumbar/ lower back pain. Our office is one of the 200 in Washington Sate participating in the Acupuncture Pilot Program. I am so excited to help these patients to manage their pain without the use of drugs! Highlights of the program include:

  • Begins October 1, 2017
  • Acupuncture allowed for lumbar pain only
  • Clients must have active L & I claim
  • Referral from attending provider is required
  • 10 acupuncture visits allowed

Tips For Staying Healthy This Cold/Flu Season

My kiddos have started school again, and I have already started our cold/flu season regimen for staying healthy! Here are my top tips for preventing sickness.

1. Wash Your Hands!
This seems like a no-brainer, but having good hand-washing hygiene is so important during cold and flu season. This is especially true if you have little ones that put everything in their mouths. In one study, participants who washed their hands at least 5 times a day had a 45% reduction in respiratory illnesses than other groups. 

2. Take a Probiotic Supplement
Having a healthy gut has been shown to help boost immune function. In one study, groups that took daily probiotic supplements had 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections than the placebo group. 

3. Get Acupuncture and Take Chinese Herbs!
Acupuncture can help boost your immune system, and Chinese Herbs are amazing at prevention (tonifying lung energy and boosting your wei qi or "defensive energy") and to minimize symptoms if you do catch anything. Most Chinese Herbal formulas for colds, coughs, sinus congestion, and sore throats contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial herbs for natural options to beat those bugs! We are stocked ready with adult and pediatric herbs for cold season.  

4. Prevention with a Healthy Diet!
Let's get real people. If you are eating crap, you are going to feel like crap, and are probably more likely to get sick. According traditional Chinese nutritional advice, the best foods for a healthy system in the Fall and Winter include warm and cooked foods and seasonal produce. These foods include soups, stews, root veggies, squash, apples and pears to name a few. Avoid damp/mucus producing foods this time of year: dairy, sugar and processed carbs, greasy and fried foods. 

5. Vitamin D
Getting natural vitamin D is ideal, so get outside and soak it up! 15 minutes a day is all that it takes. A vitamin D3 supplement is also recommended when the days get dark and rainy here in the PNW. The AMA recommends at least 1,000iu of Vit D daily. 

6. Antioxidants for Health
What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are nutrients that fight damage in the body by attacking free-radicals. Free-radicals are created by chemical exposure, poor diet and viruses. Unchecked, these free radicals cause cell damage and weaken your immune system. Antioxidants are usually high in fruits and vegetables. My favorite antioxidant supplement is elderberry syrup. It is sweet so the kids, and adults, don't mind taking it.  

Chinese Herbs for Cold and Flu

Feeling Stressed? Spring Could be to Blame! + Recipe

Spring is Here!
Spring is a time of emergence, growth and regeneration. It is also the time of the Wood element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Wood element governs the Liver and Gall Bladder. If these organs are in dysfunction (which is common in our society) you may feel the symptoms of these imbalances more so in the Spring. Problems may include:

  • Feelings of stress, frustration, anger
  • Joint and tendon problems or injuries
  • Insomnia
  • Eye problems- vision issues, dry eyes, floaters in vision
  • Vertigo
  • Hypertension

The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi, so to help move your qi you can:

  • Exercise, stretch- get your body moving = get your qi moving!
  • Do more outdoor activities: hiking, gardening
  • Eat your greens (eat what is in-seasaon: greens, lettuces, peas, sprouts especially)
  • Add lemon or lime to your water and tea. Citrus fruits and peels help to move your liver qi. 
  • Cut back on stimulants like coffee, tea, tobacco- and take advantage of the natural energy boost we get in the spring! 
  • Get some acupuncture!

Recipe for Spring Greens Pesto
---to move your liver qi! 

1/4-1/2 cup packed dandelion greens (to taste, they can be bitter)
1/2 cup packed carrot top greens
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup raw walnuts (or other nut of your choice- I used pumpkin seeds)
1 cloves raw garlic
2 green onions
Zest of a lemon and 1 T of lemon juice (can substitute with a orange to cut some of the bitterness of the greens)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil or avocado oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pulse all, except oil, in food processor or blender. Once finely minced, slowly drizzle in oil until pesto is formed (a thin paste). Enjoy as dip, salad dressing or on top of grilled protein!

Fun additions/substitutions: Beet greens, cilantro, apple cider vinegar.  

Blood Deficiency; Signs, Symptoms and Foods to Build Blood + Recipe for "Blood Tonic Energy Balls"

by Heather Fairall, L.Ac.


Blood Deficiency is a common condition seen in patients today. Blood deficiency can mimic symptoms of anemia in Western Medical diagnosis. The most common symptoms of Blood Deficiency include: 

Pale complexion
Vision problems: poor night vision, dry eyes, “floaters”
Insomnia and sleep problems
Poor circulation
Cold hands and feet
Headaches and Migraines
Menstrual and Fertility problems
Dry skin, nails, and hair, hair loss
Areas of numbness
Tendon and ligament problems

What Causes Blood Deficiency?
Blood deficiency can be caused by poor diet, blood loss, including heavy menstrual or postpartum bleeding, digestive problems leading to malabsorption, stress, and constitutional predisposition.  

How to Build Blood?
Diet changes, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and acupuncture are at the core of treatment for patients with blood deficiency. Adding high quality proteins and "nutrient dense" foods is recommended.
The main foods to help build blood include:

High quality meat: beef, pork, bison, chicken, liver, marrow
Bone broths- especially beef and pork
Beans- especially black beans
Dark, leafy greens and veggies: kale, spinach, greens, beets, broccoli, seaweed, spirulina
Dark berries: blueberries, pomegranate, goji berries (gou qi zi), cherry, cranberry
Coconut meat, milk, and water
Nuts and seeds- chia seeds, black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
Gelatin (real, from grass fed beef)

Blood Tonic Energy Balls

Recipe for Blood Tonic Energy Balls
(adapted from

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup goji berries (if very dry, rehydrate with 1-2 T of hot water)
1 T chia seeds
2 T coconut oil
1 T almond or nut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut for rolling

Add nuts to food processor and blend until finely chopped (but not into paste). Add remaining ingredients except dried coconut and pulse until mix starts to come together, sticking into ball. Using a 1 T measuring spoon, scoop mixture and form into balls. If mix is too crumbly, add more nut butter. Roll balls in the dried coconut and place on cookie sheet or plate. Put plate in refrigerator to set. Store in fridge in air tight container for up to a week (they won't last that long :)

goji berries are a traditional remedy for blood deficiency

Rolling out the Balls

Blood Tonic Energy Balls!

Say "AHHH" Why Acupuncturists Look At Your Tongue

Have you ever wondered why an acupuncturist wanted to look at your tongue?  

In Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the appearance of your tongue is a reflection of your health and can be a powerful diagnostic tool.  

What are we looking for?

  • Tongue Body Color: A "normal" tongue is said to be a medium shade of pink. A pale tongue can indicate a deficiency of blood, while a dark red tongue can indicate heat in the body. Purple tinged tongues typically indicate stagnation of energy and blood.
  • Tongue Shape: The most common shape changes can include "scalloped" tongue- or teethmarks in the sides of the tongue. This is usually an indicator of qi deficiency and/or fluid retention. We will also note any dips or depressions in the tongue and where they are located.  
  • Tongue Coating: A thin and moist coating on the tongue is considered normal and healthy. An excess of coating can indicated excess dampness or fluids in your system. An absence of coating and a dry tongue usually indicates heat in the body.  
  • Cracks in the Tongue Body: Cracks in the tongue body are usually an indication of yin deficiency and deficient heat in the body. Cracking can also be congenital- typically seen in people with food allergies and/or asthma. 

  • Areas of the Tongue represent different organ systems in TCM theory. The tip of the tongue is the area of the heart. Behind the heart position is the lung. Middle of the tongue is spleen and stomach, followed by the intestines, and finally the "root" of the tongue is representative of the kidney and bladder. The sides of the tongue are the domain of the liver and gallbladder. For example a red tip of the tongue indicates heat in the heart (seen in insomnia and anxiety conditions). Discoloration or "rolled" edges of the tongue can indicate and issue with the liver or gallbladder. A puffy tongue with excess coating in the middle of the tongue usually corresponds with a client with spleen deficiency and dampness (chronic digestive problems, weight gain, edema, food allergies).

So as you can see, the tongue can tell us a lot about the state of your health. I look forward to seeing you, and your tongue, soon!

Much Ado About Cupping

Cupping marks on Michael Phelps

If you have been watching any of the Olympic coverage, you may have noticed many of the American swimmers are covered in red dots. Yes, Olympic athletes are fans of cupping. Cupping therapy is nothing new in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncturists have been using this technique for thousands of years.  

What is Cupping?

Cupping is the use of glass or plastic cups on the body with negative pressure/suction to promote blood flow to the muscles or areas of the body. Yes, cupping is like a therapeutic hickey!  

What are the benefits of Cupping?

1. Promoting blood flow = Faster healing
In Chinese Medicine terms, we use cupping as a treatment for qi and blood stagnation in the body. When the qi and blood are stuck or stagnant, this results in pain and tightness in the muscles. Cupping increases blood flow and circulation to the muscles. This promotes faster healing of the tight or injured muscles.
2. It feels good
Think of a how good a deep tissue massage on tight muscles feels. Now imagine the same release without the pressure and pain of that deep tissue massage! Because cupping is pulling the muscle tissues, instead of pushing, the sensation is much more pleasant and relaxing.
3. Releases toxins
Chinese medicine theory doesn't really talk about "toxins" like we do today, but they do think that cupping can release trapped heat in the body (heat = inflammation and toxins). We use cupping for inflammation in the muscles, and for other "hot" conditions like coughs, colds, and other lung problems. 

I want cupping, where should I go?
Cupping should only be performed by a trained medical professional, like an acupuncturist. Acupuncturists have extensive training in cupping therapy, as it is part of their professional training and licensing requirements. At Whatcom Family Acupuncture cupping is typically done in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment and only after a thorough interview and health history is conducted. Please note that cupping may not be the right therapy for you, so talk with an acupuncturist today!