Competition between families, tribes, and nations have always been driving factors behind the creation military secrecy throughout history. In the ages of hand-to-hand combat this drove the creation of secret martial arts techniques as well as secret healing and recovery techniques.

We’re no longer in an age where injury recovery time is a matter of national security and secrecy. It’s time to shine a light on the wisdom and knowledge generated by hundreds of years of evolution of this specialized branch of Chinese medicine.

In this video I share with you my favorite book on treating sports injuries, A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth by Tom Bisio. This fantastic reference helps you understand:

  • The differences between each phase of injury healing
  • What interventions Chinese Medicine provides
  • What you can do at home to speed healing
  • Specific treatment regimens for common injuries

Every athlete needs this book. Every martial artist needs this book. Every dancer needs this book. Everyone interested in fitness needs this book.

You need this book, okay? 😃

acupuncture chart of the xin bao luo

acupuncture chart of the xin bao luoHistory of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

There’s a new blog post on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website with a slideshow of photos from the many exhibits at the Shanghai museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The exhibits document the truly ancient and evolving nature of Chinese Medicine.

An excerpt is here…..

“In September of 2010, I went to China to meet with leaders of the integrative medicine movement there. I lectured to doctors and medical students, and toured the Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It contains an astonishing 14,000 exhibits, including medical devices dating back to the Neolithic Age. Fascinating to see this long, unbroken history of a culture’s medical knowledge and practices.”

The photos show the classic (and mostly obsolete) “nine needles” as well as truly brutal looking neolithic stone and bone acupuncture needles that no one would even consider using these days. We should be truly grateful that we live in modern times.

The primitive society of China is divided into two time periods – The Old Stone Age (10,000 years ago and beyond) and the New Stone Age (10,000 – 4000 years ago). During the Old Stone Age knives were made of stone and were used for certain medical procedures. During the New Stone Age, stones were crafted into fine needles and served as instruments of healing. Many stone needles and needles made from bamboo and bone have been excavated from ruins in China. The most significant milestone in the history of acupuncture occurred during the period of Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor (approximately 2697-2597?). In a famous dialogue between Huang Di and his physician Qi Bo, they discuss the whole spectrum of Chinese Medical Arts.

The intervening thousands of years have allowed acupuncture (and tool manufacturing) to evolve to the sophisticated and virtually pain-free system we have available to us today.

Thanks to Dr. Weil for sharing his great photos!

What is Qigong? It’s a Branch of Chinese Medicine

What is Qigong? It is perhaps not as well-known as some of the other modalities of Chinese Medicine in “the west”. This is a shame as it is a well-developed and powerful healing system. Qigong is pronounced “Chee Gung”. Here is my definition of Qigong:

Qigong is a set of exercises done to produce a specific effect on the function or energy of the body.

You see, over its thousands of years of history Chinese Medicine developed into a vast system of healing and nourishing the body and mind. In this way it is akin to how “Western Medicine” developed various specialties (dermatology, psychiatry, internal medicine, etc.) and modes of treatment (drugs, surgery, talk therapy, etc.) Here are just a few of the branches of Chinese Medicine:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Tuina (medical massage)
  • Dietary Therapy
  • Moxabustion (heat therapy)
  • Qigong

Do It Yourself Healthcare

What sets qigong apart from most of the other branches of Chinese Medicine is that it is (typically) not done to you- you do it to yourself!

This “do it yourself” characteristic makes qigong uniquely positioned. It is a way to directly participate in transforming our own health!

Supercharge Your Results

Another great aspect of qigong is that it is compatible with virtually any other form of treatment you may be utilizing. It won’t interact with western pharmaceuticals, because it’s not a drug. It complements and supercharges the effects of acupuncture by reinforcing the effects of the needles. It is compatible with chiropractic, massage, herbal medicine, surgery, you name it!

“What Can I Do To Heal Faster?”

Often my acupuncture patients ask me what they can do to help their healing process. I’m thrilled when I get asked that kind of question because when a patient is willing to take personal responsibility for their health the results really accelerate.

I do my very best to empower people who want to actively participate in their own healthcare. I may suggest and teach a qigong exercise specific to a particular person’s acupuncture diagnosis. If you are a patient of mine, ask me if there is any qigong we can add to your treatment routine.

Not an acupuncture patient of mine yet? I am offering free face-to-face consultations. Schedule one to see if a combination of acupuncture and qigong might help you find freedom from pain and illness.

If you’re interested in learning more about acupuncture, simply schedule an appointment at our location in Durham, NC. To schedule an appointment call 919-228-8448, or use our online scheduling system.

Stress is a huge factor in our health and impossible to avoid.  If you think you can’t stomach the details, go ahead and skip down to “Finally, The Good News”.

The concept of stress has become increasingly popularized over the last few decades, and for good reasons we will soon take a look at. Before we go into what stress is, let’s briefly discuss what it is not.

What Stress Ain’t

Stress is not a disease. You don’t catch stress off of a toilet seat (although a disgusting toilet set might become a source of stress!) Stress is not a symptom. It’s not something you can see or touch. Most importantly, stress is not something any living creature can avoid. Let me say that again– Stress is not something any living creature can avoid!

Stress Defined

The definition of stress I will use here is this:

Stress is an individual’s response to change

That response can be physiological, emotional, energetic, neuro-chemical- in fact, any and all types of responses are possible. Whatever the flavor, generally the response will be negative, however. That is to say, the response will result reduced vitality and a destabilizing of the delicate balance we call health. Stress is process of life wearing on us. Stress is a bummer!

Now the tricky part. Notice that the definition just says “change”, and not “bad thing happening”. ANY sort of change in our lives results in stress. Being fired from your job- stress! Winning the lottery- stress! Your body doesn’t know the difference. It just knows that something is different and it doesn’t like it one bit!

The Impact of Stress

In pre-historic times major health concerns were things like being attacked by a predator, complications of child birth, dysentery and other illnesses, trauma, and so forth. Life looked very different. Survival meant being able to respond quickly and effectively in very occasional moments of extreme stress. We evolved mechanisms to rapidly flood our bodies with performance enhancing hormones like adrenaline in order to be able to act swiftly and decisively to live to see another day.

Life looks very different now, but our bodies continue to respond to stress in exactly the same old ways. Getting that report to our boss on time is not a matter of life and death, but our bodies it feels like it is. So the response from our bodies are often out of proportion to the severity of the stress we are experiencing. This is why stress is a major factor in health and wellness in modern times. These stress hormones are like rocket fuel and we go around living our lives burning ourselves out! So many common ailments can be traced back to stress as a primary factor.

More Bad News

Oh, it gets worse, friends… Stress can’t directly be treated with acupuncture or anything else. The way you chose to live your life can not be changed with any amount of needles. But fret not, there is hope!

Finally, The Good News

Thankfully, there is good news. First, realize that the life choices that you make can impact your level of stress (both for better and worse) and that you are in control of those choices. Second, there are practices you can take up to reduce your stress response given the exact same circumstances. Third, acupuncture can help restore your stressed out body back to health while creating a relaxed and restful state of the body. Let’s look at each of these.

Life Choices

While there are always surprises in life and circumstances which may seem unavoidable, we should always be aware and feel empowered by the choices we can make. Perhaps you find your job unfulfilling, which can be a real stressor.  A change to work you feel passionate about can make a huge difference in your health. Life changes can be the toughest to make, but also can be the most rewarding.

Mindfulness Practices

There are many practices in which people partake that can calm the mind and reduce the severity of the body’s stress response.  Below are just a few ideas.  You may want to invest your time and energy in multiple pursuits.  Choose what works for you in your life the way you live it.

  • Taiji / Tai Chi or other martial arts
  • Painting
  • Yoga
  • Fly Fishing
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness Training
  • Music
  • Hiking


Acupuncture can be a valuable tool in dealing with the impact of stress.  Both physical and mental impacts of stress on the body can be improved with acupuncture.  It can also help create a state of relaxation that many of us find difficult to create in our hectic lives.


It’s been a few months since I originally wrote this article, and I’m even more motivated to help people conquer the stress in their lives. I have been compiling lots of really amazing information and powerful techniques for conquering stress. In fact, I decided to write an e-book on the topic.

The e-book is called Conquer Stress Now- 13 Powerful Techniques You Can Use and I’m going to release it first (and for free!) to my newsletter subscribers. This e-book contains information that has never been compiled in this way before.

The ebook is written as a practical guide- nothing high-brow or theoretical here. It’s just jam packed with ideas that you can use to change your life and health immediately! This is not just a rehash of stuff you’ve seen before either. No matter how informed you are on stress I promise you’ll learn something new and powerful.

You’ll definitely want to check this out! To get the e-book for free click here to sign up for my newsletter. It will be released to you in installments over the next few weeks.

Woman in DepressionDepression can come from many causes and is a very common complaint in the western world. Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless, unmotivated, pessimistic and disinterested in anything. Energy levels may drop, sometimes dramatically. It may be very difficult to concentrate or sleep. There may be thoughts of death or suicide.

Western Pharmacology

Drugs are often the first, and sometimes only treatment sufferers of depression will receive for their condition. The exact bio-physiological cause of depression remains unknown to Western Medicine. For this reason your doctor can only prescribe medications which may mask symptoms of depression to greater or lesser degrees. Western pharmaceutical treatment for depression utilizes substances which appear to modify the activity of certain neurotransmitters– chemicals which transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. Because of the nature of these drugs, many people who take them will continue to need to continue taking these drugs. How do you like the idea of taking pills for the rest of your life?

Cognitive Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be effective in the treatment of depression because of the “mind-body” connections (or perhaps more aptly put, unity). That is to say, there can be a downward spiral where negative thought patterns impact brain chemistry which then enhance negative thought patterns and so on. Psychotherapy is often combined with drug therapy for depression.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

There are two main types of depression identified by Chinese Medicine- Earth-type and Metal-type depression. The symptoms look somewhat different, as do the treatments. Both kinds of depression are the result of a certain kind of imbalance in the body.  Both Earth-type and Metal-type depression have been treated successfully with acupuncture for thousands of years.

Earth-type Depression

Earth-type depression is considered the more serious of the two types. In this type of depression the individual will withdraw. They will isolate themselves, not wanting to talk or interact with the outside world. This is the type of depression most often associated with thoughts of death and suicide. Disempowering thoughts of hopelessness may be overwhelming in this type of depression. In serious cases, I may refer out to a psychiatrist for simultaneous treatment through western means.

Metal-Type Depression

Metal-Type depression carries a much lower risk of suicidal thoughts, and so is considered a less serious type of depression. Nevertheless, life with this type of depressed mood can be miserable. Sufferers of Metal-Type depression are not as withdrawn and are more prone to talk to others about their depression. They can become hypersensitive or lack a sensitivity for others. They may be easily irritated, or alternately oblivious. Essentially there is a breakdown in the way they are interacting with the world.

People dealing with all sorts of mental conditions can be treated with acupuncture, including those dealing with depression. Life may seem very dark and dreary with depression, but it can be treated! To a classical acupuncturist, depression is simply an imbalanced not unlike any other. Do you remember what true joy in your life felt like? You can feel that way again.

I am currently offering a free face-to-face consultation to talk about your health concerns and see if acupuncture is a good fit for you. To schedule an appointment or free face-to-face consultation call 919-288-8448 or use our convenient online scheduling system:

Schedule Your
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Back pain, and often specifically low back pain, is a condition that millions of Americans try to learn to live with.  Back pain can be sorted into two broad categories: acute and chronic.

Man in back pain

Acute Back Pain

Acute back pain categorized has having a sudden onset, most often from some sort of traumatic event.  Strains, sprains, muscle spasms, bone fractures and disk injuries can all fall into this category.  If you are aware of the cause and the back pain is relatively mild, it is generally safe to come in for acupuncture as a first-line treatment.  For more severe pain, or for relatively sudden back pain of unknown cause, it is important to first see a medical doctor or osteopath specializing in back pain or a chiropractor.  They will be able to take X-Rays and perform other diagnostic tests to determine how serious your injury is.  Once you receive a western diagnosis you can ask your doctor if they think seeing an acupuncturist might be helpful in relieving your back pain.  Often back surgery can be avoided in cases of acute back pain.  However, acupuncture can also be helpful in post-operative recovery for those people who elect to receive back surgery.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain is the kind of back pain that people often try to learn to live with.  It is commonly categorized as back pain that has persisted for three months or longer.  Although it is extremely common in America, it is important to remember that back pain is not a normal state of health- it indicates that something is not right.  Chronic back pain can have both relatively benign and very serious causes.  The presence of a tumor that is causing back pain is very serious indeed!  Therefore it is important to understand the cause of chronic back pain with a full western medical work-up.  Your general practitioner is often not an expert in back pain, and it may behoove you to seek out a specialist M.D. or D.O. who may order X-Rays, MRIs or other tests.  Once you receive a western diagnosis for your back pain you can evaluate your options for treatment.

Back Surgery

Back surgery is very popular in the United States and in some cases is treated quite casually.  Back surgery can be very helpful for some people, and in some cases is necessary to prevent further damage to the spine.  That said, many times back surgery is an elective procedure.  For those considering elective back surgery, realize that this is an invasive operation which can have a long recovery time, can have serious complications (including paralysis, nerve damage, blood clots, erectile dysfunction, infection, and in some cases the pain can be worse than before the surgery).  Consider the options before you or a loved one elects back surgery.  Acupuncture has an excellent record of treating back pain and has proven over thousands of years to be an extremely safe technique.  Remember, back surgery always remains an option later, after you try this low-risk, non-invasive technique.  On the other hand, no one can undo a back surgery!  Will you regret your back surgery later?

Acupuncture for Back Pain

Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for both chronic and acute back pain. Treatment can involve the “bladder channel” which has two branches that run down the back. Also, the “governing vessel” runs up the length of the spine. This gives acupuncture lots of specific access to the muscles, connective tissue, ribs, sacrum, and spine – all of which may be involved in back pain. Acupuncture can help break viscous cycles of poor posture, muscle guarding, knotted and cramping muscles, and low levels of activity that can lead to each other when we are in pain. Increasing blood flow, releasing tight and knotted muscles, restoring blood circulation, allowing a return to proper function and alignment are all possible through acupuncture.

Acupuncture is sees and treats illness very differently from “Western Medicine”.  There is such a difference in perspective, in fact, that there is no direct one-to-one correlation with most “western” and “acupuncture” diagnoses.  I will demonstrate with two examples.

Western Medicine has a category of conditions called “headache”.  Headaches may come from all sorts of causes and be of many different types.  Migraines, cluster headaches, headaches caused by side-effects of medications, headaches associated with hormonal changes, headaches triggered by allergies, headaches from sinus infection, and so on all fall under this broad category called “headache”.  In Chinese Medicine, each of these conditions are seen as quite distinct and the treatment approach taken to address each would be very different.  In Western Medicine each of these conditions would probably be treated very similarly- analgesics.

Chinese Medicine has a category of conditions called “wind”.  Wind may manifest in conditions an M.D. might diagnose as headache, Bell’s palsy, bacterial infection, muscular cramps, viral infection and so on.  In Western Medicine each of these conditions are seen as quite distinct and would receive very different treatments.  In Chinese Medicine each of these conditions would probably be treated very similarly- subdue or release the wind.

So it is with some peril that I speak of treating people who have been diagnosed with or have self-diagnosed themselves as having specific conditions or categories of conditions.  In order to be understood I need to use terms with which most Americans are familiar; essentially those of the Western perspective on pathology.  This is simply a convenient way to be understood. I simply help the balance the body’s systems.  The labels Western Medicine applies are simply a description of symptoms to me.  I am not an M.D.- I don’t treat these conditions.  I treat the imbalance that these symptoms describe to me.  Healing is something a healthy body can do all by itself.

Wow, that was one giant disclaimer!  With that out of the way, I invite you to read on about how Chinese Medicine views many common health concerns by clicking the names of the concerns in the sidebar on the right.

I have heard other acupuncturists say that acupuncture doesn’t hurt. I feel like that’s not the complete and honest truth. In this article I state my position about whether or not acupuncture hurts.  But for the impatient, here is the short version: Acupuncture usually causes very little pain, but some points are inevitably tender and can briefly hurt when needled.

Acupuncture needles are very different from the kind of needle used to give an injection.  Those needles must be thick enough to contain a hollow core sufficiently large to push medicine, vaccines or other substances through. The edges of the hollow tube of an injection needle are essentially sharpened razors that slice through the skin, so it should be no surprise that those types of needles can really hurt. In contrast, acupuncture needles are much thinner, solid, and end in a sharp point. Because of this they enter the skin very easily and with very minimal discomfort.

The most common remark I hear from someone receiving their first acupuncture needle is “Is it in?” In contrast, it is quite rare that I hear “ouch” or “that hurts” or anything like it.

Every person is different, every acupuncture treatment is different, and every point is different.  Frankly certain points do tend to briefly hurt. However, any pain or discomfort you feel should be fleeting. If it is not, I want to know and we will make any adjustments we need to. Many people are surprised at how relaxing it is to rest with the needles inserted. I personally find that some of the best rest I have ever experienced has while briefly dozing while I have received acupuncture treatments.

I’m currently offering a free face-to-face acupuncture consultation. If you are afraid of needles, are concerned about how they feel, or are just interested, I am happy to demonstrate needling on myself before your first treatment. That’s a perfect reason to take advantage of this offer. I want you to be at ease with the process of the treatment. Just ask and I’ll do my best to make sure that no fears or concerns about the unknown are there to stand in the way of the results you can achieve through acupuncture.

The consultation is a no-risk, no-pressure opportunity to choose if acupuncture with us is right for you. To schedule your free consultation call 919-288-8448 or use our convenient online scheduling system:

Not quite ready to take that step? Our newsletter is a great free resource that gets delivered to inbox about once a month. It is full of useful tips, information, and upcoming events. Learn more or sign up for our newsletter here.

All articles about acupuncture have been grouped under this heading.