What’s best: Ice or Heat?

Knee injury

We treat A LOT of injuries. The one question gets brought up every time: “Should I use ice to help treat my injury?” The answer isn’t always simple.

In the West, healthcare providers often times recommend applying ice to areas of swelling and/or inflammation. Sometimes that is the best thing to do, but not always. Other people only apply heat, and, again, it may help in some cases, but not in every case.

To help decide what is best for you and your specific situation, here is some basic data about injuries and pain:

  • First, in our clinical experience, we have seen that inflammation (swelling) after an acute injury to a joint is generally the body’s attempt to immobilize the joint to prevent further damage. Therefore, in simply applying ice to eliminate that inflammation, one is also reducing the body’s healing ability.
  • Next, it is important to realize that different pain conditions are either worsened or improved by hot or cold. Sometimes, cold makes an injury better. Other times, heat can make an injury heal faster.
  • Another useful piece of information is to understand that cold generally reduces circulation whereas heat increases circulation.

It is our stance that each case needs to be taken individually. Talking to an acupuncturist would help to guide you in the decision-making process. As a general rule, you could probably most safely alternate applying hot and cold. In cases of significant inflammation, ending with cold may be best.

Good and bad fluids in the body

water in bodyFluids and water can take many forms in the human body. Good forms of “fluid” in the body are many-fold and include the substance that lubricates your eyes, the material that surrounds the baby in the uterus before birth and many more.

Bad forms of water/fluids in the body would be the many things that people experience that cause discomfort, including a sensation of foggy–headedness, nasal congestion, runny nose, a productive cough, edema, excessive urination, excessive fatty tissue in the body (one way to think of fatty is a condensed version of phlegm, interestingly), and even cysts and or tumors.

So no, water is not simply just the stuff that you drink out of a glass and is not in the body easily replaced by simply “drinking more water.”

There are key systems in the body such as the spleen/pancreas, the stomach, the lungs and the kidney/adrenal that are in charge of the distribution, metabolism and elimination of water throughout the body. If you get those systems working, and you eat a diet that doesn’t increase dangerous fluid production in the body, you will have a balance of fluids and not experienced negative effects of “bad” fluids.

Do antidepressants have limitations?


antidepressant medicationPatients often times report to us that the antidepressant medications they are taking have limitations.

Western medicine oftentimes looks at problems such as depression as merely a problem related to brain chemistry. While clinically it seems to be accurate the brain chemistry is involved, our experience shows that particular theory simply scratches the surface.

The following seems to be a bit more accurate:

  • A person may have some kind a predisposition, based upon many possible factors including trauma and other previous experiences. Genetics may play some part possibly.
  • There is a potential breakdown and function internally under those stresses which changes liver function, the liver being very important when it comes to a person’s emotional outlook and the ability to deal with the mental and emotional stresses of life, according to ancient and accurate findings of Chinese medicine.
  • When the liver loses function, many symptoms may arise, including depression, irritability, frustration, angering easily and/or impatience.

From everything we have seen, the reason that occurs lies in the liver’s relationship with blood leading to a change in blood chemistry and therefore a reduction in the number of amino acids going to the blood brain barrier (those amino acids would normally convert into chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain that apparently give one a particular outlook on things).

So, as you can see, it is possible that in certain cases addressing only brain chemistry is simply looking at the tip of a very large iceberg.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

New Year’s Resolution: Seasonal Eating

Every January many of us resolve to make changes to better our health. One of the most common of these goals is to eat right in order to lose some extra weight. Sadly, only about 8% of us actually manage to achieve this goal long-term. There are a few ideas of proper diet in Chinese Medicine that can help many more make this particular goal a reality.

Seasonal Eating

In Western culture, we use lots of salads, raw veggies and cold smoothies to cut calories, increase fiber intake and hopefully, shed some pounds. While these foods are all very nutritious, their raw state and often “cold” quality can cause digestive function strain that, in the long run, will hurt rather than help attaining an appropriate body weight by disrupting fluid metabolism and making the body collect unwanted fluids.

steamed vegetables
Steamed Veggies. If you want some recipes, feel free to email or call us.

When it’s cold outside, we should be putting warm foods inside to support the natural temperature of our digestive process. It’s best to choose foods that would have been available at this time of year before the invention of refrigeration, freezing and long-distance shipping. This means we should be eating more things like root vegetable (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions), fermented or pickled foods (sauerkraut, pickles), healthy grains (rice, oats, quinoa or wheat if you tolerate it), legumes (beans and peas), and lean organic meats, fish an poultry. Warm the food up! It’s cold outside, and your insides work best when warm. Lightly saute, stew, steam, or roast meals. Soups are awesome in the winter. Try some new spices like ginger, curries or chilis. Experiment with a steamer, slow cooker, or pressure cooker.

By eating appropriate, fresh, freshly prepared foods we strengthen and protect the digestive system in the body. This will reward us with less cravings, better digestive health, a more even metabolism, less puffiness and fluid buildup, and long-term healthier weight and energy regulation. By thinking long-term for our bodies we set ourselves up for lasting success and good health into the new year and beyond.

What is the difference between acupuncture and chirporactic

Patients often times ask what is the difference between Chiropractic and acupuncture.

First of all, the two are quite complementary. Chiropractic works directly on nervous system via the spine and sometimes other joints. Acupuncture works on the nervous system to cause changes in circulation and organ/glandular function.

Secondly, as a generalization one could say that Chiropractic deals with structural imbalances whereas Acupuncture deals more directly with circulatory imbalances and organ system imbalances.

Interestingly, it does seem from our experience clinically that function does govern structure, answering the questions of a debate that has been a part of man’s search for health for some time.  An example of a patient who reported having is “back go out”, which turned out to be a disc that had moved out of place and the acupuncture treatment we performed on his arms and legs caused changes in circulation in the muscles of his back that then popped the disk back into place 45 minutes after the treatment.

Irregular and Painful Menstruation

Unfortunately, many women suffer with monthly symptoms related to menstruation.  It is entirely possible that a woman with severe imbalances might have to live with some form of misery, but we have found the vast majority of the time that consistent treatment over time with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine will help improve that time of the month.

The following attributes illustrate high female reproductive system function:

  • Timing: menstruation should coincide with the new moon and ovulation should occur during the full moon (if the moon phases can affect the oceans’ tides, it can certainly affect body fluids)
  • Duration: typically, flow should last 3-5 days
  • Color: should be a healthy, red without abnormalities such as purple, pink, pale, brown, or black
  • Amount: moderate at onset, a slight increase at midpoint, followed by a slight decrease just before ending (there should not be particularly heavy flow at any point)
  • The rest of the month should pass without symptoms.

It can be very upsetting to some when they find out what a normal menstrual cycle should be.  Do not take offense; the intention is to not upset, rather to simply outline a normal reproductive cycle.  Thankfully, when one’s menstrual cycle normalizes, menopause is a very smooth and effortless process that passes very quickly without significant abnormal symptoms.


(source: http://www.amazon.com/Oriental-Medicine-You-500-year-old-Understandable/dp/0615456367)

Cold and Flu Season


It’s just become autumn in Wisconsin and already we are seeing a fair number of folks in the clinic with their first cold of the season! There have even been a few who have canceled their visits because of the symptoms they are experiencing. While we appreciate you not wanting to spread the germs, we have some AMAZINGLY EFFECTIVE strategies to help you fight off the “common cold!”

  • Acupuncture – There are some super points on the body that let us boost your immune system, open up stuffy nose or blocked sinuses, calm a sore throat and shorten the length of a cold in general. They can be added/substituted for your regular treatment; so don’t miss that appointment! Even if you don’t have a visit scheduled, why not call and get in so we can boost your body and knock out that cold – fast!
  • Herbs – Chinese Medicine has some effective and safe formulas that do the same as the acupuncture; and we carry some of the most effective ones “ready-made” in the office. Unlike western cold remedies, we don’t just cover up the uncomfortable symptoms. We help your body get over the infection more rapidly and help it stay strong to prevent future ones.
  • Teas – Check out our super simple mint or ginger teas  you can brew – specific for the way your cold is affecting your body. We’ve got a great handout detailing making them up at home.
  • Diet – As always, we recommend a simple, clean diet. When you’ve got a cold, though you really need to cut out any dairy, fruit juices, fried foods and heavy meats – they are just too taxing on the system and will actually create more phlegm in the body (like anyone needs that!) Warm, clear broths and soups, lightly steamed or sautéed vegies or even a nice congee (rice porridge – and yes, we have recipe for you to use) will nourish the body without worsening the cold symptoms.
  • Sleep – Just because this is last on the list, doesn’t mean it’s not vital. While you are sick, it’s sooooo important to get a solid 8 hours of sleep per night. Clear your schedule, quiet your evenings, bundle up and get your rest.

This being a cold climate, the “cold and flu season” can be a long one. Let’s work together to use this wonderful medicine to build your health and keep you from experiencing any down time from the viruses that everyone around you is going to be all too ready to share.

Treating Acne Naturally

Basic definitions:

Acidophilus: A microorganism that is added to dairy products or prepared as a dietary supplement, is part of the normal intestinal and vaginal flora, and is used therapeutically especially to promote intestinal health. (In Chinese Medicine acidophilus has a “cooling” nature. Meaning, if taken for long periods of time it will cool the digestive system, reducing metabolic function.)

Bifidum: A type of “friendly bacteria” that helps maintain health in the large intestine. Increases the acidity of the region it inhabits and makes the area inhospitable to dangerous bacteria.

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, © 2007 Merriam-Webster, Inc.


There are some critical components to skin health. Here are some ways to treat acne naturally:

Incidentally, for individuals dealing with acne,

  1. Build function-Acupuncture and herbs,
  2. Seasons change: cleanse (we recommend the “ultimate cleanse” by Nature’s secret),
  3. Acidophilus/Bifidum complex,
  4. Tea tree oil gently applied in small dosages to lesions.

One of our acupuncturists, David, recommends the following:

The two types of Echinacea (Angustifolia and Purpurea) taken regularly through the course of the day will fight the bacterial cause of acne.

  1. Take 1 (Augustafolia) every 2 hours.
  2. Alternate with 1 Purpurea every two hours.

Mix 8 oz. of carbonated spring water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda every morning to help alkalize the blood, which helps to prevent acne breakouts.

Note: it seems with acidophilus, like many supplements, it is important to chose the highest quality available where you shop. When shopping at a health food store for such a thing make sure it’s in the refrigerator. It seems the more expensive versions use products with a wide variety of different intestinal flora, including at least acidophilus and bifidum. For example, we’ve seen patients do very well after a course of antibiotics by taking an entire  60 capsule bottle (say, 2-4 capsules per day), using the recommendations on the bottle. The good news is if you get acidophilus that was not refrigerated and happens to be dead there is no negative effect. It simply passes through the digestive system causing no positive or negative effects.

Best of health to you! If you have any questions on this topic or anything else, don’t hesitate to call. 414-322-8888



Note: Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.


One Hot Topic: Coffee

At the risk of infuriating millions of Americans (likely because of the fear of the headaches they will experience from withdrawal if they discontinue use), I am writing this to offer one perspective. Then, you should make the decision that is best for you.

The downsides to coffee: it is highly acidic, leading to inflammation which can cause many health problems. Also, it is apparently very difficult grow, therefore massive quantities of herbicides and pesticides are used in its cultivation. Additionally, the “buzz” you get from coffee is not the caffeine; rather it is the caffeine stimulating the release of adrenaline. Over time, this leads to depleted kidney/adrenal function.

The solution (should you decide to kick the habit): start gently on the following steps. Watch out…at some point it may get bumpy, as withdrawal isn’t very pleasant!

Note: To minimize any withdrawal symptoms, it is important to make the following transitions:

  1. Drink only organic regular coffee for a few days.
  2. Drink half organic, half organic steam-distilled decaf for a few days.
  3. Drink organic steam-distilled decaf only for a few days. (FYI: there is still caffeine in decaf coffee. The decaffeination process never removes all of the caffeine.)
  4. Drink green tea for a few days.
  5. Drink Chai tea (Indian Spice tea with little or, better yet, no black tea). We have a fantastic recipe on our website’s blog, as well as in our clinic.

Call if you have question or concerns, as always.


Oriental Medicine and your Emotions

Thousands of years ago, physicians in China began to explore the nature of human emotion and discovered a direct link between emotion and the organ system.  Having helped many people resolve emotional imbalances over the years, we’ve found the following to be accurate from the point of view of the physical body (obviously many factors exist in life that may trigger bodily malfunction which, in turn, could then trigger an emotional response).  What is described below is the relationship between the emotions and physical body.

  •  Ÿ An  imbalance in LIVER function can cause a person to experience excessive or inappropriate    anger, irritability, frustration, impatience, and/or depression.  For example, a person could have experienced multiple emotional stresses over many years that suppressed liver function.  Then, the loss of a loved one could cause liver function to drop dramatically, and the person could then begin to experience  frequent bouts of depression.  On the other hand, a well-functioning liver will cause one to be generally relaxed, patient, and emotionally even.  It is interesting to note that intense     cardiovascular exercise pushes blood and energy through the liver thereby benefiting it greatly (this is one reason people feel so mellow after exercising).
  • Ÿ The HEART is the “king”  of emotions.  An imbalance in heart function can cause a person to experience short-term memory loss, excessive/inappropriate anxiety or panic attacks.  Normal heart function will provide one with good short-term memory.
  • Ÿ An imbalance in SPLEEN/PANCREATIC function will cause one to worry excessively or to over-think; strong spleen/pancreatic function will yield clear and crisp thinking at a normal pace.
  • Ÿ An imbalance in LUNG function will cause one to experience inappropriate or excessive grief, sadness, and/or melancholy.
  • Ÿ An imbalance in KIDNEY function will cause one to experience excessive or inappropriate fear; conversely, strong kidney function will cause a person to trust easily.


As  you can see, in many cases, excessive or inappropriate amounts of emotion can be caused by a breakdown in organ function, not simply an imbalance in brain chemistry, which is the typical     western medical view of emotional imbalances. The view of western medical theory can be quite  limited and, ironically, leads to further difficulty in resolving the problem.  For example, if one takes a medication for depression (which may be caused by a liver imbalance) and that medication reduces liver function, it makes it more difficult to treat the depression.  This is often why a person may take a medication for the length of their life… and the issue never fully resolves!


If you know someone suffering with any of the above problems, do not hesitate to have them call and ask questions!