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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!!



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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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][/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!


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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 for more information, and visit 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?


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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 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 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!



Diabetes Demystified


Image from

Did you know that diabetes is not contagious? It's time that we knew the basics facts about diabetes and how it affects those who live with it every day.  Although November is Diabetes Awareness Month, we need to be aware of our individual risks for the disease right now.

Facts about diabetes:

-You can lead a very normal life with diabetes

-Insulin is not a cure for diabetes, it is maintenance for diabetics

-Type 1 diabetes does not necessarily run in families

To keep it simple, here is a short breakdown of the types of diabetes:

Type 1: Insulin Dependent/Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults (also known as juvenile diabetes). In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (see cute little photo at the beginning of the post) does not produce insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugars into energy needed for daily life. Type 1 diabetics need to keep their blood sugar levels carefully in check, and test their blood by pricking their finger several times a day, placing a drop of blood on a monitor, and measuring out the necessary amount of insulin they need inject into their bodies.

Type 2: This is the most common form of diabetes in the United States. With type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to the effects of insulin, or the body doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal level.  Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening if blood sugar levels are not regulated. Millions of Americans are unaware that they are at risk of becoming a type 2 diabetic, and millions more have already been diagnosed.

Gestational: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood sugar  levels during pregnancy have gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes affects about 4% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. This type of diabetes lasts throughout the pregnancy, and needs to be carefully controlled with diet. If not, there can be complications with the baby and possibly the birth.

Acupuncture is completely safe in for diabetes, as the needles are one time use only, and we carefully swab the points with alcohol inserting needles. Besides, these needles are MUCH smaller that the injection needles! There are acupuncture points to help control blood sugar, diabetic neuropathies, as well as help control other issues that may come up. Diabetics unfortunately often develop other autoimmune disorders, such as asthma or Crohn's disease. Acupuncture practitioners can also recommend safe herbal formulas to control blood sugar more effectively with Type 2 diabetics.

If you are at risk for diabetes, here a few great articles and sites to look at and start taking care of yourself:

-Look into a change in diet that can help you count carbohydrates and sugars:

-Switch from sugar, honey and other sweeteners to great alternatives- check out this post for some ideas.

- Read this article by Christine Dionese, LAc about how to prevent diabetes!

Anya Rozek- Type 1 Diabetic and the bravest kid I know



Acupuncture in the news

"]Lots of talk about acupuncture in the US- check out the links below for some interesting articles! -A recent article in the New York Times discussed acupuncture in the US, and how expensive it can be, mostly due to the fact that it's not covered by insurance companies. While each clinic and each acupuncturist has a different price range, there are many options out there, including group acupuncture (which is NOT like a chair massage, as stated in the article. It's a whole-body treatment, but in a healing group environment instead of a private office). If you want to use insurance, and think you may coverage, talk to your insurance company. Better yet, have your acupuncturist do it for you! There are many plans that will cover acupuncture, but you have to ask the right questions :)

-Another controversial topic in the acupuncture world has been around medical practitioners who aren't acupuncturists, but are allowed to practice acupuncture after taking a 300 hour course. A friend of mine posted this article, and I found the study interesting- what do YOU think? Would you rather see an acupuncturist who has had 4 years of training, or someone who has had a few weeks of medical acupuncture training?



Chinese Medicine in the Spring

Spring is back , and even though it's (still) raining here in the great Northwest, it's time to at least start acting like summer is on it's way! Spring cleaning season is a great time to clean out your closets, prepare for the potential summer abundance from our gardens by caring for the soil and planning gardens, and everything else that's been put off due to winter weather. Get outside and enjoy the vitamin D when the sun shines for a few minutes!

Here are some  posts from acupuncture blogs around the US with tips on a healthy spring, and just a little inspiration to get you motivated.

Lynn Jaffee, LAc of the Acupuncture Twin Cities Blog gives us ten easy ways to improve our health this spring, including eating more green vegetables, getting your eyes checked, and making time to stretch and exercise.

Lorne Brown of Acubalance wrote a great post with stories of hope for couples and women dealing with fertility. There are touching stories of people who are discovering the amazing effects of acupuncture. Even when the immediate results aren't what you expected- often patients will begin treatment for fertility, then suddenly their cramps disappear, energy and digestion improve, and they are sleeping better. The body needs to find a balance first, and these are all signs that the body is working towards balance of the mind and body.

Adam Kuby, the artist in residence for the Portland Acupuncture Project, continues with the project to heal the city of Portland by inserting needles throughout the city in the most needed places. Read about the history of the project and Mr. Kuby's vision here. More needles are sure to be popping up all over Bridgetown!



Acupuncture Weekly Roundup

Here is a quick "roundup" of a few things that are happening in the acupuncture world (plus a good demonstration video).

  • Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, wrote a great article about how acupuncture helps with pain in breast cancer patients who are undergoing hormone therapy. Read the excerpt below, then check out her blog post for more information.

    The study found that the true acupuncture group had significant improvement in joint pain and stiffness as well as an improved sense of well-being. Furthermore, 20 percent of the patients taking pain relief medications did not need them after receiving acupuncture. This benefit was not seen in the control group.

  • A study came out that shows how acupuncture helps calm anxiety before dental work, and may even help with preoperative work. For more information on dental procedures in acupuncture, check out this post on dental procedures during acupuncture.
  • The Acupuncture Relief project is looking for volunteers! This great project that provides thousands of acupuncture treatments and a wonderful opportunity for practitioners to treat a lot of people and spend time in a beautiful place. There is also a need for donations to this great project- take a look at a previous post here.
  • Still a little scared of getting that first treatment? Watch this acupuncture for back pain video to get a taste of how relaxing, safe, and comfortable acupuncture is.

Acupuncture Therapy : Acupuncture Back Pain Demo



Happy Year of the Tiger!

It's now the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese calendar, and the Year of the Ox has moved on. I'm posting this late as I spent today preparing for the New Year by cleaning and painting a room in my house- whew! Tradition is that you do these things before the New Year begins, but we had a last start. On the topic of traditions for a proper Chinese New Year Celebration, read some great posts for ideas on the new year - it's not too late to celebrate!

Kim Knight, LAc wrote a post about the traditions of this New Year on her blog:

It is traditional that the New Year be celebrated with a lot of the color red. Lamps, costumes and other items will be flashed red today. The deities of the Heaven and the Earth will be welcomed, after cleaning the house and it is traditional to exchange gifts in the form of a red envelope containing money, generally in amounts of even numbers and giving the amount of 8 is considered particularly auspicious because the word for eight is a homophone for “wealth”.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc wrote about the characteristics of Tigers-they sound like fun people to spend time with! In the spirit of Valentines Day, here is a section from her post about Tigers as partners:

Tigers make interesting partners – they are creative, passionate and will never bore their mates. They’re expressive, polite and trustworthy, but watch out. Partners need to have a high energy level and a sense of adventure to keep up with a Tiger.

A few colleague's sent me this 2010 forecast from Dr. Maoshing Ni, complete with exercise and diet tips!

I wish you a safe, happy, and most of all healthy year of the Tiger.



Acupuncture Making a Difference in Haiti

Acupuncturists Without Borders, a non-profit group that travels to places where disasters have occurred and treats those in need at no cost. The most recent group traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to help with pain management, stress, and emotional and physical trauma. Watch the video below to see the work they are doing over in Haiti with great results.

To help out, donate, or for more information, go to This is a great organization who is doing important work all over the world!