Stars and Athletes Who Use Acupuncture!!

acu in kneeI’ve often heard that many famous athletes and stars use Acupuncture. Recently, I saw a list in the publication, Acupuncture Today. They tell us that athletes use acupuncture to “recover from soreness and fatigue faster, to feel stronger and feel more balanced.”  That inspired me to look further online, and I found that using Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is actually a trend among many stars!  This highlights the fact that Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used even if you are feeling healthy, to promote optimal well-being, or to recover from minor injuries.   These are just a few of the most famous athletes and stars.  Follow some of the links I’ve embedded to read about many, many more!

Kobe Bryant –  This NBA superstar actually posted photos of his leg with acupuncture needles in it on his social media platforms.  He wanted to show his fans he was using  Eastern medicine along with conventional therapies to recover form a recent injury.

Mickael Pietrus –  Another famous NBA player originally from France, Mickael was treated while at the Shaolin Temple in China! Afterwards, he said he no longer had any pain in his knee and was ready to go back to play earlier than expected.

Sandra Bullock –  It’s well-known that Sandra gets acupuncture regularly, and even requires that it be included in her contract!  It’s her “secret weapon” for staying younger looking and keeping up vitality.

Robert Downy, Jr. –  My girlfriends and I have had a crush on Robert for a long time, and now I know why!  He uses TCM regularly, and says it has “had a profound a profound impact in all areas of his life for many years.”  He even does Qi Gong, and was given an award for his advocacy of TCM.  Maybe I felt his energy all along!

Jason Hammel  –  A pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles at the time (now he’s with the Cubs), Jason used Acupuncture at the suggestion of his wife, and said he was “astonished” at how good it made him feel!  It helped his energy, to enliven a “dead arm,”, and he also went in to use it as an alternative to medications for cholesterol.  The cholesterol meds had given him body aches and hampered his abilities.

Finally, many Olympic athletes use Acupuncture and TCM.  Kevin Overland, a Canadian speed skater, used it to recover from a hip injury and won a Bronze medal, according to Acupuncture Today.  Many athletes in the London Olympics also used Acupuncture.  Five time Olympian high jumper Amy Acuff uses Acupuncture to heal from injuries and regulate her nervous system.  And there are many, many more!  In summary, Acupuncture is becoming known for being good for what ails you.


What I really meant to say …

What I really meant to say …

rhoda1I wanted to share with you something I wrote while I was on my Writer’s Retreat back in the end of February. You, my lovely and human patients, came to mind later when I read this, because I so often am faced with clients asking me if I can basically stop them from aging or make them young again, give them the same energy they had at 20, or the same body shape and abilities. We all wish for this, and I thought it might help to hear that I do, too.

In the workshop, we were given the prompt, “What I really meant to say…..”. I wrote:

What I really meant to say was lost in the gap of my missing teeth. Who knew that losing two upper molars would cause my tongue to slip and slide sideways and not continue to smoothly perform its’ talking function? Each time, it surprises me that the words are not coming out the way I intended, some kind of mishap between what forms in my brain and comes out of my mouth. It frustrates me, feels slightly embarrassing and freaks me out a little. It feels like a precursor of what’s to come as I age and things begin, well, continue, to not work as I expect. Teeth don’t stay put,  the back can no longer pick up four-year-old children, energy can no longer maintain me for twelve hour days. I realize my image of my–self had not included this falling apart stuff, aging. Don’t we all imagine ourselves as still 25 years old? Even my 86 year old mother says she imagines herself as 40. And yet it is normal, something that happens over and over again to everyone we know; I knew aging would happen, but I denied it. My mind playing tricks on me once again, funny to think about one part of my brain thinking it is amazed by how another part keeps playing these tricks. Delusions of stasis and forever-ness and when I get “there” it will be better, delusions that I guess bring me some kind of peace at the moment. Part of being human, I plod along, watching it, surprised, embarrassed, amazed and then amused. O Silly Me, silly us, people, just being people. Coming together, falling apart, and wishing we had said something else.

P1020531 rhoda2

Endometriosis, A Success Story:

YES!-imageThere IS help for Endometriosis. For those of you who have it, you’re saying “What!?” For those who don’t, you’re probably saying, “What the hell is that?” Even so, read on, because if you end up knowing anyone who has it, they’ll want to know about this. Strangely enough, Endometriosis is a disease where tissue that is the same as the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, grows OUTSIDE of the uterus. Mostly it’s found in the abdominal cavity, perhaps attached to ovaries or the intestines or just the supportive ligaments. Occasionally, it’s even found inside the intestines or lungs, and, rarely, the nose! The difficult thing about this is that this tissue grows and fills with blood in response to hormones, and then sheds, exactly the same as inside the uterus. It also tends to spread in some women. This means that it can become extremely painful, especially at period time, and it can also become an impediment to fertility.

No one knows what causes endometriosis. Various theories exist, including backflow from the uterus and damage to DNA by toxins or yeast overgrowth. Regardless of the cause from Western Medicine point of view, it presents as a pattern of Blood Stasis in Chinese Medicine. There may be other patterns together with this, but there is always Blood Stasis. While it is not an easy thing to treat for any practitioner, there IS help! It takes a concerted, full spectrum approach in which Acupuncture and Chinese herbs play a central role.

In the past year, I’ve had several examples of an aggressive approach having some success in reducing endometriosis. In one case, let’s call her Sylvia, the endometriosis was very widespread and causing significant pain, so the patient decided to have it surgically removed, along with the uterus. Unfortunately, it tends to come back (even without the uterus, which perhaps negates the backflow theory?). So Sylvia came to me, both for help in recovering from the surgery, and to keep the endometriosis from spreading. Two months after the surgery, she had already been told that some new growth was appearing on an ovary, what is often called a “chocolate cyst.” The doctors were recommending hormone therapy for this. Sylvia was also having a lot of pain; in fact, she came into the clinic walking stiffly and slowly.

Sylvia set up an aggressive plan of regular acupuncture, cooking strong Chinese herbs to move the blood, and at the same time seeking out pelvic floor massage and doing yoga for exercise. After she had regained some strength, we also added in cupping therapy on the abdomen and low back and weekly abdominal massage, a deep massage I do that is similar to Chi Nei Tsang, a Chinese form of abdominal massage.

After just a few weeks, Sylvia was checked by her OB/GYN, who was surprised to find that the chocolate cyst had disappeared! He said to her, “Keep doing Acupuncture!” Sylvia also experienced great reductions in pain, and improvements in energy level and overall health. Since then, she has continued her routine. Several months into the Acupuncture, Sylvia was checked again. Still no chocolate cysts, and it was decided that hormone therapy was not necessary. Sylvia continued her routine, partly due to the long recovery time from such a surgery, but she was still regularly checked. Six and nine months later, some small ovarian cysts came and went, but they were never blood-filled. Sylvia rarely has any pain, and feels confident that we are keeping the endometriosis at bay.

Let’s be honest, the Acupuncture and herbs may not have been able to resolve the extensive amount of endometriosis that Sylvia had just before surgery. Surgery was most likely necessary at that point. However, Chinese Medicine does appear to help keep the endometriosis from returning, or when it does, we are dealing with smaller amounts. And, as I keep mentioning, it does take a disciplined, regular effort. This is the same kind of thing we need to do to help promote fertility in many patients: regular acupuncture, strong Chinese herbs, abdominal massage, and possibly other kinds of massage, along with diet changes and exercise. When I see a patient like Sylvia walking through the door smoothly and easily, with no pain, and a smile on her face, I know it’s worth it.

What can Thermography Full Body Scans tell me about my health?

(The following is a guest post by Dr. Nancy Gardner)

From head to toe our body can talk to us and give us warning signs of poor health –hopefully we are paying attention and respond early enough to do something about it. Thermography is one of those unique ways to look at the body using an Infrared Camera. It is a LYMPHATIC TOXICITY heat detector so it can see patterns that are normal (benign), atypical (meaning just not the way it should be but not yet a pathology) and abnormal (serious potential pathology or disease).

Root Canal Infection

A Full Body Thermography can reveal numerous health issues from dental infractions or root canal infections, hyper-metabolic lymphatic system and looking at the ophthalmic artery at the center of the eyes can show us the levels of stenosis of the carotid artery. We can also see regional inflammations in the area of organs like the liver or pancreas waking us up to toxic exposure or more serious digestive disturbances. Breast Thermography in addition to screening for breast cancer can also reveal mammary duct infection, inflamed cysts or leaky augmentation appliance.

Diagnostic Tool

The goal of full body scan, as is any diagnostic tool is to find health issues early enough to do something about it. Why wait until you need hospitalization and drugs to treat and illness when you can make changes to avoid poor health ahead of time? We are being constantly bombarded by toxins in our environment, cleaning products, cosmetic products and inorganic foods. As we make an effort to clean toxins out of our life we will find it necessary to do a CAROTID ARTERY EVALUATION   a cleanse of all the eliminatory organs in order to help them do their job with self help therapies to cleanse the liver, lungs, kidneys, skin, colon and lymphatic system.

Breast Thermography

Breast Thermography can see changes in the breast 10 years before a mammography can pick up a problem, giving us time to change the diet and nutrition to reverse the potential disease before it happens. It is painless with no compression or harmful carcinogenic radiation.

Nancy Gardner-Heaven, PhD. has a Masters in Nutrition and PHD in Clinical Research and runs the Optimum Health Clinic in San Rafael, CA. Due to the high rate of breast cancer, Nancy Gardner has made a commitment to educate women about preventing breast cancer worldwide. She also provides Mobile Screenings in the Fresno, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Rafael, Sacramento and Hawaii every three months.

Osteoporosis is no joke

By James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons

Osteoporosis is no joke. I’m watching my Mother go through the consequences of it and while I knew it was something to avoid, seeing her pain makes me fully realize I do not want to go through this. In the past few years, she’s had two serious episodes of compression fractures in her spine, and now a hip fracture from a fall. Compression fractures are when a vertebrae collapses in on itself, it is so brittle. The doctor showed me the X-ray. It changes from being a square to a smushed oval or diamond-like shape. When this happens, the pain is excruciating. All my mother could do was lay there on her side curled in fetal position. Trying to sit up caused her to yell out in pain. It took months to “heal” to a place where she was in less pain. And she was lucky; she did recover, albeit in a slightly shorter and more hunched form. Some of her neighbors never stop being in pain. I like to think the acupuncture and herbs I gave her played a role, but of course I don’t know for sure.

Two years later, it happened again, and all from merely carrying a little heavier bag of groceries than normal. Six months after that, this past summer, she fell and broke her hip. She is basically like a very fragile bird now; any little thing causes her to snap. The broken hip required surgery that left her bruised along her whole side and back, and she’s been in pain again for several months. Thank goodness, she is recovering from this as well, and is now walking with a cane.

I wish I could have prevented all this for her. I tried to tell her to exercise; she wouldn’t listen, but now I wish I had tried harder. She drank and ate tons and tons of milk and dairy products, so that didn’t work. Now that I see it actually happening, I want to at least warn others. We hear the warnings all the time, but without hearing stories like this, sometimes it’s hard to take it seriously. So how do we prevent osteoporosis for ourselves?

  1.  Calcium: Most of us know by now the key ingredients are Calcium and weight-bearing exercise. But few know the real truth of the matter. The milk industry has misled us. My mother always said, “I drink plenty of milk, I’ll be fine.” True, milk contains Calcium, but it has to be in the right form. For bone density, Calcium needs to at least be taken together in the right proportions with Magnesium. These two work together in concert with your body’s hormones to create a balance of several important systems and then eventually end up in bones If other factors are also present. This hormonal mechanism is so complicated that researchers haven’t even figured it all out yet. They actually keep changing the ratio of Calcium to Magnesium you need, from 2:1 to 1:1; and now some are saying you need more Magnesium than Calcium. Many also recommend having several other cofactors in concert, such as Boron, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Silicon, and so on. What is the best way to get this? Not dairy. It turns out, too much of dairy can actually leech Calcium from the bones. It turns out, GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES are the way to go! Yep, good ole’ kale and broccoli once again win the day. Observational studies have shown that in countries where they don’t have any milk at all but eat lots of vegetables AND get weight bearing exercise, bone densities are much better than those in the U.S.
    Brokolice 1
    Lacinato kale

    You can take a supplement, of course, and there are lots of good ones out there. Jarrow’s Bone Up, for one, and I carry one of the most readily absorbed forms in my office. Be careful about relying on this too much, though. People in the U.S. are now having problems with kidney stones from taking too much Calcium in supplement form. I do a mix, eat healthy and take Cal/Mag pills sometimes, about half the normal dose.

  2. Weight Bearing Exercise: Perhaps the single most importantBy Joseph RENGER (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commonsfactor to increase bone density is the weight bearing exercise. Bones need that signal to tell them, “Hey, we need the Calcium over here in the bones to keep them dense for the exercise!” Otherwise, we use the Calcium for other things, or excrete it. Yes, this can mean lifting weights, but that isn’t the only way. Just “bearing” your own weight walking or running is enough for legs. Tai Chi is also highly recommended since it not only strengthens the bones, but builds balance so you have less likelihood of falling. Then there’s your upper body. Yoga is ideal for this. All those poses where you are bearing your own weight with your arms do the trick. Studies have shown that those who do yoga into old age have far less osteoporosis. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended.
  3. Avoid Calcium Leechers: Certain foods actually sap minerals from the bones. Any diuretic, such as coffee, tea, and cola drinks are to be limited. Alcohol can prevent Calcium absorption, so the recommendation is not more than one drink a day for women, two for men. And smoking has also been linked to lower bone density, so there’s another reason to quit. Too much protein, especially in the form of meat, can drain calcium from the bones as the body attempts to normalize pH. I do recommend eating meat, but you never need more than a few ounces at a time, more is very hard on your digestive system, and a few ounces just a three or four times a week is all we need for the amino acids it provides. This will also help not only the animals, but our planet, as the raising of large amounts of livestock contributes to global warming! Do continue to get 50-70 grams of protein a day in other forms, though. Finally, too much exercise can also leech Calcium, especially for women. If you are an athlete, you will need to increase your Calcium intake and watch the bone density if you are exercising more than an hour a day.
  4. Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture: Research in China has shown that certain Chinese herbs increase bone density. These herbs do not contain Calcium so they increase density by some other mechanism, somehow getting the body to put the Calcium in the bones. From Chinese Medicine point of view, certain herbs usually strengthen the kidney energy function, which also governs the bones. If you are a woman over 50 and have any osteoporosis in your family or have been measured with low bone density, I can order you these herbs, either in pill form or to be taken as a tea. Acupuncture to strengthen the kidneys has also been shown to improve bone density!

A final word of warning. Some women are convinced by their doctors that it is ok to take Hormone Replacement Therapy comprised of either estrogen alone or estrogen plus progesterone to help reduce fractures. Unfortunately, I consider the risks to be too great. The Women’s Health Initiative studied this issue and found that estrogen plus progestin does not reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, and slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots.

It’s true that this study was done with certain forms of estrogen and progesterone and some are saying that maybe other forms will be ok. But there is no proof, and I myself am not willing to be their guinea pig. If osteopenia (meaning simply that bone mineral density is low, as opposed to osteoporosis, where the bones have already become fragile) shows up, doctors usually recommend drugs such as Fosomax or Reclast. While these drugs do increase bone density, they also have side effects, and don’t increase density as much as good diet and weight bearing exercise. However, in an elder at greater risk, especially one who is having trouble eating or exercising, it is worth the risk. Fosomax is harder to comply with; it is much easier to get the yearly injection of Reclast.