Acutake May 2018

Acutake May 2018, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

By Sara Calabro

Most people, when they hear about the benefits of acupuncture, find themselves thinking, “That would be so good for me!” Less stress, more energy, better sleep and digestion… Who doesn’t want that? But for many people, there’s one thing holding them back from enjoying the benefits of acupuncture: They’re scared of needles.

There’s a spectrum of needle fears, ranging from downright needle phobic to being moderately concerned about the whole voluntarily-being-stuck-with-needles thing. Regardless, fear of needles is the number-one reason people pass on acupuncture.

Acupuncturists get asked about the tool they wield all the time. Here’s what they tell people who say they’d love to try acupuncture but are scared of needles.

Acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles you know.
“Needle apprehension is very common and natural, considering that we have been conditioned to associate needles with pain—think dentists, blood draws, and IVs,” says acupuncturist Kathryn Peak. “But acupuncture needles are hair-thin and nothing like the needles we are accustomed to in a medical setting.”

“Acupuncture is the most gentle form of needling possible,” adds acupuncturist David Bonilla. “If acupuncture was anything like getting a shot, I wouldn’t be in business!”

Most people who have never had acupuncture do not realize how thin acupuncture needles are. They bend when you touch them. For an up-close look at an acupuncture needle, check out this article.

Kids do it.
Acupuncturist Adam Cantor reminds people that the needling sensation from acupuncture is so gentle that even kids are cool with it.

“If children are okay with getting acupuncture, it can’t be so bad,” says Cantor.

Acupuncturist Naomi Richman takes a similar approach when faced with needle-phobic adults. “I had an exclusively pediatric acupuncture practice for six years, and I still see a ton of kiddos for acupuncture,” she says. “When adults tell me they are afraid of needles, I share anecdotes about a child I recently saw who was really brave, or I tell them, ‘This morning, I did acupuncture on a two-month old.'”

Acupuncturist Robin Green has a whole website dedicated to kids loving acupuncture. This is a real thing.

Spring Flowers 2018

by Jennifer L Fockler

spring 2018 flowers

This spring felt like it was a long time coming with our really cold weather in March. Now that we have some plants and trees blooming, I'm feeling extra grateful for the beautiful spring flowers. I really have a sense of awe for these amazing gifts from nature. Not only are they good to look at and smell great, but they also have amazing medicinal qualities.  

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will have seen a few flowers mentioned in recent months. This must be my subconscious longing for spring!  

Lately, I have really been digging on rose. I started getting more and more into it while I was trying to find aromatherapy scents that were safe for my cats (a lot of popular smells can be toxic for them). At first, I thought it was an 'old lady scent', but have quickly grown to love it. It can be overpowering, so use it sparingly in the diffuser and maybe add a base nose from another scent. 

Anyways, I was starting to notice rose everywhere. It's in so many skin care products like soaps, lotions, and serums. It's also in teas and sweets, like Martha Stewarts rose water frosting. And of course, Chinese Medicine has been using it for thousands of years.
The nutritional value of the rose plant really shines when you talk about the rosehips, this is the fruit that forms after the petals have dropped, they are a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamin E, magnesium and calcium. Some cultures also consider the rose an aphrodisiac and stress buster. 

In Chinese Herbal Medicine we use the bud of the flower, Flos Rosae Rugosae, called Mei Gui Hua. It looks like something you might find in a potpourri mix, a small and tight flower bud that is 1 to 3 cm in size. It is sweet, slightly bitter and warm. It enters the liver and spleen channels and is in the category of Herbs that Regulate Qi. It moves the qi and harmonizes the blood and is used in formulas for irregular menstruation and liver stomach disharmony, with symptoms like constriction in the chest, belching and poor appetite. 

Another form of rose used is the partially opened flower of the chinese tea rose, Flos et Fructus Rosae Chinensis, Yue Ji Hua. It is in the category of Herbs that Invigorate Blood, is sweet and warm, and enters the liver. It is also used for regulating the menses, but can also reduce swellings and abdominal pain.
So you see, there is some overlap in these two forms of roses and I think the average person would be hard pressed to tell the difference between them visually. Botanicals can get tricky and you need a professional and experienced eye to identify the plant and its' parts. 

I have started to use rose in many forms around the house, including the aromatherapy diffuser. I also mix a flower tea with rose petals, lavender buds, and chamomile that is very calming and good for digestion. I also put them in my melt and pour soaps and soak rose petals in jojoba oil for a couple weeks and use as an amazing facial serum. 

As you can see, there is a wide range of uses for the rose—food, medicine, cosmetics, scents. As always, if you are using Chinese Herbal formulas, do so under the care of a trained and licensed professional. 

Another flower that is popular in herbal medicine is the Lily, it's especially associated with Easter. 

In our neck of the woods, you see a lot of Lilies popping up in June and July in everybody's yards. But did you know that in Asia the bulb is used for food and medicine? The bulb almost looks like a cross between a large head of garlic and a layered onion. It has a mild perfumy flavor and is a little sweet. You can use it in stir fries and other kinds of dishes. 

For medicine, the bulb is separated and dried. It's considered a very 'yin' herb and its white color can help you to remember that it can treat the lungs, which is the metal element and the color white.  

It's great for that dry cough where your chest feels hot and parched with no phlegm moving and a sore dry throat. It also helps treat heart symptoms like insomnia, restlessness, and irritability. So it's very calming, cooling, and moistening. 

A word of caution for you cat people. The Lily is very poisonous for them! This includes the pollen, leaves, stems, sap and flower petals. Please don't keep them in your house and use caution if you have them in the yard. 

And last but not least, one of my favorite herbs, that is not really a flower, but the bark from the tree that has beautiful flowers, is called Hou Po (Cortex Magnoliae officinalis), which is actually just bark from the magnolia tree. It addresses issues in the lung, large intestine, stomach and spleen. It's warm and aromatic and helps to transform and dissolve dampness.

The number one thing this herb treats is abdominal bloating, feeling full, loss of appetite, poor digestion, constipation, and a feeling of something stuck in the throat. So basically, an icky stomach! Hou Po can also help with wheezing and coughing, chest congestion and excess phlegm, so it's perfect for that lingering cold and flu.  

In most cases, you should not be taking a single herb by itself. That’s the reason why Chinese Medicine has so many herbal formulas, so that you can get multiple benefits, better results, and less side effects. So, if you want to try herbs to help your digestion or a lingering cold, see a professional to get checked out before you start buying stuff on Amazon.



Winter Skin 2018

by Jennifer L Fockler

rough winter skin

Winter is the season of the Kidneys. It’s dark and cold and hibernation is a natural response. In the northern climes, we like to stay inside and eat and Netflix, (at least this is my standard operating procedure.) 

The cold temps and dry air put strain on the body in very different ways from the damp and hot summer months. Because winter is the time of the Kidneys, you can experience problems related to this organ system more easily.

One thing that I really struggle with in the winter, is dry skin and a dry nose and throat. In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys and the Lungs have a special relationship and work together to generate qi and disperse fluids to the skin and rest of the body.
The lungs are the first stop in qi production, in the most basic terms, if you can't breathe, you can't live. Part of the lungs’ job is to moisten the skin and it does this by sending fluids down to the Kidneys. The kidneys filter it and send the fluids back up to the lungs, where the lungs disperse it to the skin, nose and throat. 

The Lungs are at a disadvantage with the very dry air.  Normally, the humidity will assist the lungs by moistening the nasal passages, throat and skin, so they don't have to work so hard. In the winter, the lungs need to make up for this loss by calling on more fluids from the kidneys. If the kidneys don’t have the extra to give, then things can dry up. The kidneys will hold the fluids for the more important functions of urination. 

There are some pretty easy and practical things you can do to help keep moisture in the air and help your skin.
-Use a humidifier, especially in the bedroom while you are sleeping. You don’t have to get fancy here, a basic warm mist humidifier is what you want. I leave mine running 24/7 in the bedroom.
In other parts of the house you can go old school by running the shower with the bathroom door open or boiling a big pot of water on the stove.
You will be able to feel the difference in the air. It will feel warmer and more comfortable with less static electricity.

-Push fluids and really make an effort to stay hydrated. You want to aim for 3 liters of water a day. This can happen in many forms like hot water and lemon, herbal teas, coconut water, smart water, etc. The only thing to stay away from is cold and sugary drinks. Ice is no bueno and doesn’t feel good on your stomach when its already so cold outside.
I would also caution you about caffeine. It's easy to overdo it when you want something hot, but in the long run it can be very dehydrating.
Another thing to watch is the dairy. Hot milk can be amazing on a cold day with or without the espresso, but this can rack up calories pretty fast and add to mucus production.

-Skip the soap, wash with oils instead. Soaps are very drying to the skin, stripping your natural oils that you need to create a healthy barrier. Use soap only in the groin area and under the arms. And use an option that is less drying.

On the face, use jojoba oil. Apply it sparingly and massage into your skin. Drape a hot wash cloth over your face and wait 10 seconds. Wipe off the excess oil with the warm wash cloth. If you need to moisturize after, you can use a few drops of the jojoba and rub into the skin. Go lighter than you think, too much oil will sit on the surface of your skin. 

This is also a great oil to rub into the hairline and scalp if you have dryness there as well. Apply sparingly to your hair to help tame flyaways. 

For the body, use a sugar scrub with avocado oil. This is so cheap and easy to make at home, you will never buy it again.

Fill an empty jar or tupperware bowl with sugar, leave an inch of room at the top. Insert a butter knife or spoon in the center to create a little room in the sugar. Pour the avocado oil down the side of the knife or spoon to help it reach the sugar at the bottom. Jiggle the knife or spoon around and repeat, guiding the oil for an even consistency. Add as much oil as you like, depending on the size of your jar and the amount of sugar. If you have really dry skin, add more. If you want more scrubbing action, add less oil.  Put the top on and it's ready to go!
Use anywhere on your body and rinse off in the shower. Pat dry, so that the oil stays on the skin to moisturize and protect. *The shower floor will be slippery, please use caution*

You can experiment with the type of oil you use and/or change it seasonally. Avocado oil is heavy and that makes it nice in the winter. In the summer you can try grape seed oil or extra virgin olive oil. Whichever you use, the oil needs to be liquid at room temp, or it will clog the pipes. That means no coconut oil!

You can experiment with the type of sugar you use as well, its just what feels good. Some sugar has a larger grain to it than others. Sometimes I like to add a little baking soda too, usually in the summer. Another nice substitute, is salt. It becomes more drying and astringent, but feels great on the feet in the summer.

Have fun and experiment. You can add essential oils, flower buds, use a mix of oils, french clay, etc.

-Use your dietary choices to help keep you hydrated and full. Eat a lot of soups and stews, heavy on the veggies and broth. The water content fills you up faster and keeps you satisfied, in fact this is an old dieter's trick. This time of year, everybody wants to diet and/or do a cleanse anyways, so kill two birds with one stone.
Go easy on the dairy and fatty foods, they can lead to too much mucus production which burdens the lungs. But make sure you are getting your good fats, those are essential for the skin, like avocado.
And don’t forget the fiber! Beans and veggies are great in soups and stews. The fiber will help pull toxins out of the body, so they don’t have to come out through the skin.

-Use a filtered shower head. In Chicago we have heavily chlorinated water that is also very hard. It’s brutal in the winter! A filtered shower head can make a big difference in how comfortable you are in your skin, literally. I use an inexpensive version by Culligan that I got on Amazon. It was super easy to install and the filter gets replaced every 6 months or so. You can buy fancy versions if you want to upgrade, but if it’s you’re first time, just see if you like it before you buy the best or biggest one.

Our lungs, along with our kidney system in Chinese Medicine, work together to make up a big part of our immune system. An intact  physical barrier is a crucial part of that system. If we are taking care of our skin, we are not only more comfortable, but also more healthy. The simple hacks listed above are easy to do and can add up to big changes.

If your skin needs extra help in the winter, come and see me for a treatment. I also have some amazing products that are chemical and preservative free for the face and the body. Check out Emily Skin Soothers and Angelica & Peony.


November Acutake Newsletter

November Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

Acupuncture Makes You More Grateful

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

Acupuncture is a great teacher on gratitude.

The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we already have everything we need to be well. In contrast to biomedicine, which prioritizes external interventions, acupuncture takes what’s already there and rearranges it into something positive.

Acupuncture doesn’t add or subtract anything. Rather, it prompts the body to do what it already knows how to do.

An acupuncture perspective teaches us to appreciate what we have rather than what we are lacking. This inspires gratitude, which can have profound implications, especially this time of year.

Read the article

October Acutake Newsletter

October Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

What to Eat This Fall and Winter

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

Hot apple cider, chunky sweaters, and crackling fireplaces. It’s becoming that time of year again, when we pull out our cozy-time favorites and huddle indoors to stay warm. As we settle into fall, colder darker days urge us to slow down, conserve energy, and rebuild our strength for the coming spring.

According to Chinese-medical theory, people should live in harmony with nature. The colder months are perfect for slowing down, resting, and becoming introspective. The food we eat also plays a key role in the conservation and rebuilding of energy this time of year.

When you think of fall and winter, think warm food.

Soups, roasted veggies, and slow-cooker meals are some of the mainstays necessary for building energy and a healthy immune system. In addition to warming your food through preparation, all foods contain certain energetic properties, so eating foods that are warm in quality is just as important as how they are prepared.

Read the article

September Acutake Newsletter

September Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

7 Acupuncture Tips for a Healthy Fall

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

Fall is right around the corner.

New seasons are an opportunity to assess our states of health and realign with our natural rhythms. From an acupuncture perspective, fall is about refinement. It’s time to pare down, to let go of the excesses we allowed ourselves in summer and focus on what’s necessary for winter.

In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Weather and climate, particularly during the transition from one season to another, factor significantly into acupuncture diagnoses and treatment plans.

The transition into fall is especially noteworthy because it signifies moving from the more active seasons to the more passive. This directly impacts how we feel, and how we prevent and treat illness.

Here are seven acupuncture-inspired tips for staying healthy this fall.

Get the fall health tips

Late Summer 2017

by Jennifer L Fockler

spleen and stomach season

Can you believe its September already? Summer has flown by and now kids are going back to school and you can start to feel Autumn on the horizon.

This time of year is known as late summer, its element is earth and its color is yellow. The major organs associated with this season are the spleen and stomach. That’s the all important digestive engine that is the first stop for so many metabolic functions, like making blood, energy levels, clarity of thought, phlegm, and obviously effecting things later down the line like your bowel movements.

Late summer is also the time of year associated with dampness, which is a kind of Chinese medical term that can get confusing. I always think of a moldy bathroom, especially because mold allergies kick up this time of year. The air gets thick and things feel heavy, it will also smell funky if there is mold and mildew. If you took a really hot shower, it will be considered damp heat. If you are in a cold and leaking basement, that’s cold-damp. So, if you can picture those two environments, then you can get a general idea of what this could do in the body.

Allergies have really been hitting our area hard lately, that’s damp stuck in the wrong place, like your sinuses or throat. A good way to treat some of these symptoms is by heating up your digestion with things like ginger and cinnamon, avoiding dairy and cold or raw foods. This will help your spleen not produce damp, which can turn into phlegm. It will also keep your energy levels higher and keep your thoughts clearer as well.

Fluids and staying hydrated are so important to moving the damp. Picture a swamp with standing water and soggy soil, this happens because nothing is moving. A lot of times if you increase your water intake, you create movement and can flush out the stagnant water. But sometimes the water can get stuck in a specific area of the body, like edema in the ankles or a bad phlegm cough. In these situations, herbs are a crucial part of treatment. They really help the body cycle through fluids and break up phlegm to pull it out and can get very precise with the area they are targeting.

I personally, have a hard time staying hydrated and find electrolyte drinks to be super helpful. I like coconut water or smart water and I even put a few drops of salt water in my filtered water if I'm feeling really off. Some people like sipping on hot water or herbal teas all day. You have to find what works for you. And yes, you will be peeing more, there’s no way around it.

The Spleen and stomach are also the first stop for blood production. We all know blood is pretty important. If you are low on blood and fluids, you can feel weak, dizzy when you stand up, have tight muscles and cramping in the calves, muscle spasms, twitching eyelids, headaches, cold hands and feet, fuzzy thinking, trouble falling asleep, plus more!

For women especially, blood is so important, because we lose blood every month and the nature of pregnancy takes a toll on our resources. The spleen in Chinese medicine makes blood, controls blood and is susceptible to damp, in addition, the spleen is one of the first organs to get taxed by our busy and stressful lifestyles. You can see how important the Earth system of the Spleen and Stomach are, and how a little nurturing can go a long way, especially at this time of year.

Some easy ways to help your Earth organs at home is to eat simple balanced meals, really going for that Goldilocks zone of not too much or too little, not too spicy or fatty, lots of veggies and grains, with small amounts of meat and spice.

If you are trying to build blood add goji berries to everything. Eat red and purple fruits and veggies like raspberries, blueberries, and eggplants.

If you have weak digestion like acid reflux, ulcers, or other sensitivities then stay away from your trigger foods (obviously) and add pumpkin and rice into your routine. This will even work on your pet dog and cats. I also like to add probiotics and enzymes, and if you are really having a hard time try an Aloe Vera drink.

Some of you may know that I have the start of an ulcer under my esophageal sphincter that can be super painful and refer into my left shoulder. It gave me a good scare enough times that I ended up in the ER and eventually got an endoscope. Long story short, I understand how crucial the Spleen and Stomach are to our well -being on a whole other level.

This is a huge area in Chinese medicine, in fact there is a whole school of thought that “goes through the Earth” with its own text called the Pi Wei Lun. I personally find the Chinese Medical approach to be much more nuanced and detailed, and definitely less invasive. It also alleviates symptoms with out sacrificing long term health and with little side effects, but it takes work. You have to be committed and make changes.

This time of year is the perfect time to nourish your spleen and stomach for so many reasons.  If you can relate to any of the things mentioned above, come in for a treatment. We can get you feeling better with acupuncture and herbs in no time and get your body prepped for the cold and flu season. Click here to make an appointment.