Acupuncture for Insomnia

This is a great clip from the BBC about acupuncture and how effective Chinese Medicine is for it. It's not very long, and very interesting! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XqlgDQgLUgI#!



Acupuncture and pain management

Pain management is one of the most frequently treated complaints in most acupuncture practices. Pain is also the reason most people first decide to try acupuncture, often as a last result. In reality, using acupuncture, herbs and Tuina massage for pain management is one of the best things you can do. For instance, a sprained ankle can benefit greatly from an immediate acupuncture treatment, as well as torn ligaments, muscle strain, and shoulder pain. Back pain is the number on reason for seeing an acupuncture practitioner (check out this study funded by the NCCAOM). I treat a lot of back pain, and have found that the combination of acupuncture, followed by Tuina massage, and cupping or gua sha to be the most effective. Many patients with chronic back pain find relief by using acupuncture along with Chinese Medicine plasters.

My favorites are:

Wu Yang Brand patches, are great for sports injuries, and come in a long plaster meant to be cut and used as needed. These work the best for sprained ankles and knee pain, in my experience.

Yunnan Bai Yao plasters (usually used to stop bleeding, and especially good for bruising and trauma): These are palm-sized patches that can also be used on any joint or bruised spot. I have used these with arthritis patients, a snowboarding patient who hit a tree with his leg and ribs (it immediately helped with the bruising), and knee and foot pain patients.

Salonpas capsicum patches: A larger plaster, meant to cover the low back or a section of the mid back. They can also be cut up and used specifically in sore spots, but I have found that they are most useful when used to help with cold-type back pain (usually a chronic condition.). These heat up very quickly, and remain warm for a while. A great idea for post-surgical and even post-partum back pain.

It's important to test these plasters in case of an allergic reaction, and I don't recommend leaving these on more than 8 hours. As always, it's best to check with your acupuncture practitioner before trying these out.


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Chinese Medicine in Late Summer: Preventing Colds


The down time after the summer rush of visiting friends, family and taking vacations, different schedules with a lot of last-minute changes, and the weather differences all make us susceptible to colds. I see a lot of kids and even a few adults who are starting to get colds- we don't realize that even though the amazing summer months are fun and full of freedom, the lack of routine and late summer nights around the fire start to catch up when the summer winds down.

Eating schedules are always different in the summertime, and the abundance of food the warm weather  offered brought so many delicious delights of the garden. However, now is the time to make the switch from green salads with something a little warmer, like a root vegetable side or nourishing soup. Yes- the time for ice cream has passed, my friends. Start thinking about a nice warm fruit crisp for a sweet end of summer treat. The farmers markets are still full of amazing and delicious

Ideas to avoid catching a cold right now:

-Take a supplement- I like Health Concerns Astra C  which includes Astragalus (huang qi), zinc and vitamin C. I recommend this formula for patients who are teachers, frequently fly for work, or have low immune systems. If you already have a cold, Gam Mao Ling is my next favorite patent herb.

-Get regular acupuncture. BEFORE the symptoms start! Acupuncture helps boost your immune system naturally, but if you already have a cold or cold symptoms, it helps the symptoms pass more quickly.

-Keep covered up (use a scarf!), and dress appropriately for the weather.  The mornings and evenings are becoming chilly, so don't forget to keep little ones dressed warmly.

- Be sure to wash your hands after blowing your nose and cover when you cough! Those who are around small children know how fast germs can spread.

Be well and have a wonderful late summer!





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Acupuncture in Nepal: World Premier of Compassion Connects in Portland

Compassion Connects Marquee 


Acupuncture Relief Project presents a world premier screening of

Compassion Connects: Ancient Medicine for Modern Health Care

Hollywood Theater, Portland Oregon, June 13th 2012, 7:30pm


Free Admission • Donations Appreciated

In 2011, film-maker Tristan Stoch followed a team of Acupuncture Relief Project volunteer practitioners during their stay at the Vajra Varahi Clinic in Chapagaon, Nepal. In this short film he successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.

Since 2008 Acupuncture Relief Project has provided over 100,000 treatments to patients living in rural villages outside of Kathmandu Nepal.  Acupuncture offers an inexpensive, sustainable method of providing communities access to medical evaluation and basic care.


Please join us Wednesday, June 13th for a celebration of Acupuncture Relief Project’s work in Nepal.  Between the two screenings of the film, Project Director Andrew Schlabach will give a brief talk about the organization’s accomplishments.

7:30 pm :Premier Screening of Compassion Connects

8:00 pm: Presentation by Andrew Schlabach: Acupuncture as Primary Care in the Third World

8:45 pm: Second screening of Compassion Connects


Compassion Connects: Synopsis

Against tremendous obstacles of poverty, in regions where the struggle to survive often usurp basic medical needs, five volunteer  acupuncturists, set up a health clinic in Nepal. Through providing basic primary health care, a connection emerges between patient and practitioner that act as a vehicle for exploring fundamental questions about what it means have compassion, and elementarily, what it means to be a good human being. These relationships have long-lasting effects both personally and socially, bringing waves of compassion to all communities, at home and in Nepal, creating meaning, changing lives, changing communities.

For more information please visit: www.CompassionConnects.org

Click here to watch the Compassion Connects theatrical trailer: How far would your go to inspire hope?


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Chinese Medicine and Cleanses

Spring is almost here, and even though it's still raining in Portland, it's time to get ready for summer. Spring is the time of the year for new beginnings, rebirth, and for cleaning out what you don’t need any more. When spring arrives, our bodies want to shed “winter” weight and our energy levels rise. This is why spring is the best time to do a Liver cleanse. In Traditional Chinese medicine, Spring is the season of the Liver, which makes it the perfect time to clean up your dietary habits and give it a break. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy in our body, and needs to be unclogged to function properly. This important organ is where the body stores waste products and processes the toxins that we put into our bodies.

Here are a few recommendations I give my patients when they ask about doing a Spring cleanse:

-       Organic Only Make sure your sources of proteins and fats are organic. This includes nuts, oils, poultry and fish.

-       Be Gluten-Free Products that contain wheat and gluten can wreak havoc on the body, so try not to eat either.

-       Eating green fresh spring foods help cleanse the Liver and aid in detoxification of the body. Eat plenty of fresh greens, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, dandelion greens, and lettuce.

-       Avoid white flour and sugar, caffeine, and dairy, red meat, soy, and peanuts. These are considered inflammatory to your body.

-       Make a list of things you can eat, instead of focusing on what you can’t. It will make your life and the pleasure of eating a lot easier during these weeks.

Acupuncture treatments throughout the cleanse will help move the stagnate qi, help with headaches from caffeine and sugar withdrawal, and keep you motivated. Plan for at least one acupuncture treatment a week while you are following a cleanse.

Keep in mind that there are deeper levels of why a cleanse or detox might be a good idea for you, such as a serious allergy or the need for a complete diet change. For this reason, I recommend patients come in to my clinic so we can work together on a cleanse that is tailored to their specific needs.

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Love and Acupuncture

February is nearly here- the month where the focus is on love. While sending love to others is a wonderful idea, it’s also the ideal time to think about love for yourself, especially your body. The best way to show your body some love it is to take care of it.

Your body wants to be healthy, and to function at its best. When you are sick or hurt, your body does everything it can to heal itself. The excess phlegm when you have a cold? Your body attacking the virus. That cut that healed in a week? Your cells working hard to make you whole again. The human body is pretty incredible, and should be treated properly.

-Nourish yourself with proper food. Eat organic foods, and prepare them yourself.  When you put time and thought into nutritious meals, you appreciate the food more. It also makes you more aware of the nutritional choices going into your body (unlike processed foods, where you often have no idea!).

-Exercise is absolutely necessary for your body and for your mind. Releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine makes you feel good while losing fat and toning muscles. What better way to spend your lunch hour several days a week? And check out this Science Daily article if you are having second thoughts on exercise. New brain cells, anyone?

-Acupuncture allow healing both physically and mentally. By clearing your mind, you help to “reset” your body physically. Letting go of unnecessary stress loosens muscles, releases endorphins, and puts the body in a state of relaxed bliss.

-Massage centers and relaxes the body.  During a session, you become aware of the parts that need more attention or may be tender. I always end my treatments with some massage – usually facial, scalp or shoulders, to help ground and center my patients (and who doesn’t like massage on a nice warm treatment table?)

Respect your body by treating it right. Follow those basic rules we hear again and again: nourish your body with good food, exercise, and promote general well-being by getting acupuncture or a massage. You have to give a little love to get a little love- your body will thank you for it!


p.s. Worried about loving the new shape of your post-baby body? Check out the Zenana Spa blog for ideas- so great!





Acupuncture Relief Project 2011

A colleague and friend of mine, Andrew Schlabach, LAc, started the Acupuncture Relief Project project several years ago, and has taken many practitioners to Nepal for thre experience of a lifetime. Watch the video below to see what it's been like for them, and then please take the time to look through the ARP site. [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/28036053[/vimeo]



Seasonal Allergies and Chinese Medicine

Spring (almost summer!) has arrived at long last in the Northwest, and most of us are more than ready for a little sunshine. We are all in need of the Vitamin D from sun, and spending time walking or running outdoors instead of on a treadmill is a refreshing change. That lush, fresh green color the West coast is famous for has indeed come to life at last, but unfortunately, those of us who suffer from allergies (as much as we love being outdoors and enjoying the spring), also have to contend with the stuffy noses, watery and itching eyes, skin reactions, wheezing or increased asthma symptoms.

I have had so many patients who are suffering from allergy symptoms these past two months. In the past, these patients have never had a problem in the spring. It seems like the consistent damp weather has led to a different kind of symptoms this year: phlegm created by the dampness. Chinese medicine practitioners refer to a lot of visible phlegm as excessive phlegm-dampness in the Lungs, because that’s exactly what it is The excess phlegm, be it white or yellow is a problem because it causes congestion and irritation in the body, and needs to be cleared out.

To ward off these symptoms and clear out the phlegm, get acupuncture! Plan for weekly treatments, and be sure to take an allergy formula that suits you best (see below for recommendations). By getting acupuncture now, and targeting the Lung, Kidneys and Spleen channels, you will boost your Qi and enhance your immune system so it can fight appropriately. In the case of excess phlegm, the body is overreacting, which causes the phlegm, itchy eyes and general inflammation in the body.

Some tips to help right now:

DRINK warm teas (black tea if you have white phlegm, green if it’s yellow)

TAKE Chinese Medicine in any form- granules, pills, teas, tinctures, (Bi Yan Pian is a common sinus formula, and Nasal Tabs 2 by Health Concerns is another good formula). These herbal formulas won’t dry you out in the ways that a lot of antihistamines can.

EAT warm soups, stews and stir frys. Cold coffee drinks, iced drinks and excessively cold foods can make symptoms worse. Avoid dairy and sugar when possible- they will create more phlegm. Whole foods are the best, so continue to avoid processed and packaged foods, and enjoy the fresh spring foods at the farmer’s markets

WEAR clothes! When the sun is out, we feel that it’s time to strip off winter layers, but it’s important we continue to keep our bodies warm. We don’t want phlegm-inducing colds making the allergy symptoms worse.

HYDROTHERAPY for your nasal sinus passages (a technique was recommended to me by Dr Igor Schwartzman). Take a warm washcloth, and soak it in warm to hot water (be careful not to burn yourself). Place the cloth over the sinus pain areas for 2 minutes, then take another washcloth and soak it in cold water. Hold it in the same place for 30 seconds. Repeat this two more times, and up to three times a day. This creates movement in the clogged sinus areas, helps prevent stagnation in the sinus cavities and feels good when the stuffiness is causing pain.

Good luck and enjoy the sun whenever it's out!



Fertility and Natural Medicine

The Yinova clinic blog posted an article about fertility and natural medicine which was featured in the  June 2011 Natural  Health Magazine. The article talks about how natural medicine, such as acupuncture, herbs, yoga, meditation, and other modalities help with fertility when other options might not.

The tips to make healthier choices for general health and to optimize fertility are great:

  • Get your protein from plants- Animal proteins requiere more insulin to process. Try beans, peas and nuts to mix it up.
  • Ban trans fats-avoid processed, packaged and fried foods. Stick to foods with the good fats- avocado, nuts and olive oil are great choices.
  • Drink more water-avoid soda and caffeine!
  • Beware of the sugar spike- avoid soda, white breads, and potatoes to reduce the overgrowth of yeasts in the body.

The article also suggests that patients take a general herbal tonic , but I feel that it's best to take specific herbal formula for individual needs. Chinese Medicine practitioners are trained to treat each patient as an individual, which means that each herb going into a formula is tailored specifically for that patient. There are several lines of Chinese herbs that come in a patent formula, and they are all according to body types.

Check out this article by Jill Blakeway, LAc to find out more on what your body type might be. After a Chinese Medicine diagnosis, practitioners can tell you which herbal formulas or diet changes might be the best for you.






March 28-Acupuncture for Japan Earthquake Relief

On Monday, March 28, acupuncture practitioners all over Portland and the nation will be donating a percentage of their fees to different Japan earthquake relief funds.

On Monday, March 28, 2011, acupuncturists nationwide will join together to help Japan.  We will donate 10%, or some other specified amount, of our proceeds for that day to Japan.  Here is a link of reputable organizations that the Huffington Post has suggested people donate to:


We will choose, individually, which organization we want to support and donate to them.

Cita Oudijk, L.Ac.(of Open Gate Acupuncture)

A good time to get acupuncture AND support a good cause.


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Acupuncture Helps Rockies Pitcher

Rockies pitcher Jason Hammel used acupuncture and herbs to heal his arm, and had great results!

After a forgettable finish last season, Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel turned to acupuncture and herbs. He did so at his wife's suggestion, openly searching for a way to combat a dead arm and lacking energy that he traced to cholesterol medication.

He sought treatment three times a week, and has felt much better all around. See the rest of the article at the Denver Post.

It's so nice to see that acupuncture is making the news as effective pain relief. I treat a lot of patients with pain conditions, and often get great results in just a few treatments. When we are treating pain, it's said that if you get acupuncture weekly, it will take about a month for each year you have had the pain (sooner if you get treatments more often). But if the pain is acute, it can relive symptoms much faster, and with less side effects that pain medications. It's nice to get relief without nausea, constipation, or dizziness that opioids can cause.

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The Year of the Rabbit

Happy Lunar New Year!

Enjoy the Year of the Rabbit, which should be a welcome respite after the exciting yet tumultuous year of the Tiger. Many patients have commented to me that 2010 was an interesting year, but are hoping this year will be a little calmer. So take it easy, but don't be too indulgent, and be sure to take some time to heal the body and mind with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

In keeping with the celebration of 2011, Portland has a lot of activities to welcome in the Lunar New Year. Check out the Lan Su Gardens downtown- they have talks about Chinese Medicine for each year (associating specific organs with each animal year), discussions on Feng Shui, and Tai Chi this month.

Have a wonderful 2011!


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9000 Needles is Back in Portland

The documentary 9000 Needles will screen in Portland on Sunday, January 30 at the Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR 97212). I was fortunate enough to watch this film several months ago, and it was amazing. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in acupuncture, or stroke rehabilitation. Here is a quick synopsis from the OAAOM site:

“Having suffered a devastating stroke, forty-year-old Devin Dearth fights for a chance at recovery while facing the confines of the U.S. healthcare system. This award-winning documentary by director Doug Dearth, follows his brother’s unconventional journey to Tianjin, China where he is immersed in a rehabilitation program which uses acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicines to treat stroke patients. Less an indictment of the health care industry, and more a story of one family’s love, faith and desire to overcome. 9000 Needles delivers a powerful and emotional message of hope, courage and the true power of the human spirit.”


Doors open at 5:00 PM. Tickets are $10 General Admission ($5 for students and children)*. The screening is sponsored by the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM).

Contact info@oaaom.com for more information, and visit www.9000needles.com for more information about the film.

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Chiropractors practicing acupuncture?

Not in Oregon! Or at least that is the current argument we acupuncturists have against chiropractors, who want to use acupuncture as part of therapeutic treatment. Check out this brief article in the Willamette Weekly about dry needling and the potential effects if the vote passes tomorrow.

The OAAOM also has a list of past letters written about this issue- read them on their website for more information

What do you think?



Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Winter

Winter has arrived. The weeks of rain, wind, and colder temperatures have notified us that the season is here. Staying indoors and sleeping are more appealing as our bodies try to keep warm, and cravings for certain foods may also be at the forefront of our minds.

In Traditional Chinese medicine, each season has an organ that belongs to it. Winter is the season of th Kidneys, which holds the essence of  our being and the root of our energy. Winter is also the season that has the most "Yin" aspect of Chinese medicine (think of the black side of the Taiji or YinYang symbol).

Yin is dark, movement is slow, and it represents cooler temperatures (in contrast to the Yang summer season, which is light, with more activity and warmth).

If you have an acupuncture treatment in the winter, the practitioner may use moxibustion to warm your cold extremities, low back, or abdomen. Moxibustion is a wonderful way to warm the body slowly, with lasting effects. Your acupuncturist may also recommend herbs to fight off colds, or to help with overeating that often occurs with the holidays.

A book that I often recommmend to patients is "Staying Healthy with the Seasons," by Elson Hass, MD. This book discusses how to eat and exercise with each season and the changes that occur in nature and within our own bodies. In winter, it's best to eat warm foods such as nourishing soups (my favorite is Chinese chicken herbal soup) and hearty stews help our bodies be still and keep warm.

It's also important to keep up with some form of exercise routine, such as yoga, pilates, or your usual gym workouts. Even though we may not be sweating as much, out bodies still need water in this season. After all, it is the season of the Water element...



Acupuncture and IVF

Acupuncture improves the results of couples undergoing IVF. One study that had a positive outcome is the 2002 German study. This study tested a group of women undergoing IVF with acupuncture versus a group without acupuncture. The results were very positive:

"Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group (those who did not receive acupuncture)."

The online magazine Conceive posted this article about using acupuncture for women with fertility concerns. The article quotes Dr. Randine Lewis, a well-known practitioner and author of "The Infertility Cure," and acupuncture offers three main points:

“The most important for older women–those over 35–is that there are acupuncture treatments that improve blood flow to the uterus that almost nothing else can do.” Secondly, explains Lewis, a little needling can help balance hormones by stimulating acupuncture points that moderate beta endorphins in the brain. Lastly, acupuncture reduces stress. “Basically,” says Lewis, “the body does not want you to get pregnant when you are under stress.”

I have treated several women undergoing IVF, and have found this to consistently be true. Having a lot of stress in your life makes it difficult to conceive, which is why I usually recommend weekly treatment for three months leading up to the embryo transfer, increasing the frequency of treatments just before the embryo transfer. While this seems like a lot of acupuncture, the stress reduction, increased blood flow, and overall improved health of the body makes a big difference in the outcome of IVF

If you are interested in the history of IVF, check out the RESOLVE video below of an interview with Dr. Howard Jones, the pioneer of IVF treatment.




9000 Needles Documentary

Whether you are an acupuncture practitioner, a stroke victim, or just interested in seeing the amazing effects of acupuncture, I recommend you watch this documentary. The story of Devin Dearth, a bodybuilder who had a stroke at 40 years of age. The failure of the American health insurance is what takes Devin on a journey to China for a twelve week treatment plan. I won't spoil it with all of the details, but I will say that there are some heart-wrenching moments in this documentary, and the results of the acupuncture therapy are absolutely amazing. You can find more dates for screenings on the 9000 Needles website, and there has been some talk about another screening in the Portland area in the near future. Keep checking back on the OAAOM website for details!



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Autumn acupuncture articles

River Rapid Now that summer break is over and autumn is officially here, it's time to see what's new with acupuncture!

-Acupuncture Chicago posted a research article on acupuncture and moxibustion turning breech babies with a breech presentation (baby's head is up instead of down in utero). The technique has been used for centuries, and has been proven time and again to work when other methods won't.

-The Acupuncture Relief Project is going to back to Nepal for the third year! Check out their website to donate and support this incredible program that helps hundreds of people every year in Chapagoan, Nepal.

-Lynn Jaffee of Twin Cities Acupuncture wrote a great article on weight loss. Acupuncture is a great adjunct to any weight loss program, and your practitioner can give you great ideas on which foods to eat, and the Chinese Medicine theories on which foods to eat and which foods to avoid when you are trying to lose weight.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chinese Medicine

"]There are an estimated 20 million Americans who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a condition also known as spastic colon, spastic colitis, nervous stomach, and functional bowel disease. If you have ever experienced about of diarrhea before a performance or major exam, or had loose stool during times of stress, then you have experienced what it's like to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is also Lynn Jaffee, LAc, describes the symptoms of IBS on the Acufinder site:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is labeled a "syndrome" because is involves a group of symptoms that varies for each individual who is affected. It involves abnormal movement of the small and large intestines (which is often referred to as a motility disorder). Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, and constipation and/or diarrhea (often in alternating episodes). IBS may also be accompanied by other gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, bloating, and nausea, and the symptoms are almost always aggravated by stress. Episodes may also be aggravated by eating, and are frequently relieved after a bowel movement.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work very well for for IBS symptoms. There are many techniques we can use to help with the symptoms of IBS, and with regular acupuncture treatments, some lifestyle changes, and an herbal formula made specifically for your constitution (body type), I have seen a lot of success and immense relief of symptoms in those suffering from IBS. Acupuncture is very good in reducing stress, which is a huge trigger for IBS symptoms. By reducing this stress and making changes towards better living, your chances of getting some relief from IBS improve greatly!

Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

-Be careful with food sensitivities and/or allergies. Gluten and dairy can cause a whole slew of gastrointestinal problems

-Avoid eating too many types of foods at one time (i.e. please don't eat an entire cake in one sitting....it will cause problems...)

-Steam vegetables rather that eating them raw

-Emphasize a high fiber diet, and include freshly ground flax seeds and whole grains as part of your daily carbohydrate intake

-All foods must be eaten slowly, chewed and salivated well (the enzymes in your saliva break down food)

-Eat in a calm and somewhat quiet atmosphere (no reading or watching television while eating)

Watch this video with Dr. Igor Schwartzman at WellWire.com. Dr. Schwartman demonstrates an easy way to calm your breathing, and offers additional information on some causes of IBS. He also recommends some beneficial herbs and teas that may also help with IBS symptoms, such as camomile and slippery elm.



Acupuncture: Proven Painkiller

A new study has come up with the result that acupuncture has the ability to release a natural painkiller, adenosine, in the body.

An article in a recent issue of Nature Neuroscience indicates that at least one of acupuncture’s reported benefits may finally have concrete support and a proposed mechanism of action thanks to laboratory experiments. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, and the National Institute of Health report that a neuromodulator (a chemical agent secreted by neurons) called adenosine is the key to why acupuncture lessens pain associated with inflammation and chronic neuropathic problems.

These findings were interesting, and I'd like to see this study recreated on human subjects (instead of mice) to see the effects and what the differences, if any, there would be.

You can download a PDF or full text of the article on the Nature Neuroscience site. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this study!