Tibetan Medicinal Foot Soaks Relieve Neuropathy and Other Pain!

I am so thrilled to be one of a select group of acupuncture clinics from around the world to offer Tibetan Medicinal Foot Soak Therapy to people in Decatur and surrounding Atlanta communities. This herbal therapy is fantastic for issues like nerve pain, arthritis related pain, pain and inflammation caused by gut dysbiosis, plantar fasciitis, gout, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, some gynecological issues and endocrine disorders. They are also be great for endurance athletes recovering from big races or intense training. The herbs work by increasing microcirculation and reducing inflammation.

My personal experience with these herbs has been life changing. I was a runner. I loved to run in the woods. It was my “me time;” my time to reflect, to relax, to breathe. After an injury I developed this chronic hip pain that no modality, including years of physical therapy and a lot of acupuncture, could fully relieve. I finally gave up running as it was just too painful. Along came the Tibetan Medicinal Foot Soaks. I originally became interested in them because I treat a lot of neuropathy but decided I would do a few soaks myself so I could better guide patients in how to do them at home. A few soaks in I noticed I did not have any hip pain when walking. Interesting and novel. I am now slowly building up my running. No pain. I feel like a giddy kid in a candy store and I want to share that with any of you who have chronic pain.

The herbs are in a little bag that looks like a teabag. You put them in hot water above your ankles and soak for 30-45 minutes, keeping the water nice and hot. Easy peasy. The herbs are absorbed transdermally so they don’t interfere with any Western pharmaceuticals you might be taking. The herbs in this special formula are of the highest quality; they are typically reserved for the elite ruling class in China. You can get more information about the therapeutic properties of the herbs and their sourcing in this short podcast

When are the medicinal foot soaks contraindicated? With anything that is made worse by increasing blood circulation such as metastatic cancer or acute infections.

This therapy is an easy, convenient and cost effective way for patients to take charge of their own health and healing. I know that herbs are powerful but I am really blown away at the effects these have had with my patients who have chronic pain or diabetic and other neuropathies. Interested? Patients must come in for a consult prior to purchasing the foot soaks so I can ensure safety and that the foot soaks would be effective for your condition. Schedule a consult today by calling 404-695-0905.

Know anyone that has neuropathy or other chronic pain? Please share this information with them!

Resolve Tendonitis with Acupuncture

Musicians, athletes and computer users often experience a repetitive strain injury known as tendonitis.  Commonly called tennis elbow or golfers elbow (depending on which side of the elbow is experiencing pain), the pain can become debilitating if left untreated.  Often people start to feel like there is no hope of ever being pain free again.  The good news is that acupuncture is extremely effective at resolving tendonitis!

When we repeatedly do the same motion, such as using a computer mouse/touchpad or swinging a golf club, muscles and tendons can fatigue and local inflammation and pain result.  Acupuncture works by reducing inflammation and swelling while calming irritated nerves.  I typically combine acupuncture with gua sha for maximum effectiveness. 

For at-home care I recommend that patients use gentle heat, NOT ICE, for pain relief.  New research has shown that ice slows down healing.  Massaging topical ointments like arnica cream or Tiger Balm (both available on-line or at your local health food store) into the painful area is also helpful.  To promote faster healing internally reduce or eliminate inflammatory foods such as alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods.  You can increase tendon nourishing foods such as beef, beef broth, black beans and root vegetables. 

My last bit of advice: don’t wait.  The sooner you come in for treatment the fewer treatments you will need to fully resolve the pain.  If you or someone you know is suffering from tendonitis book your appointment today and be on your way to a pain-free life!

Pain Relief Without Pills

A new review of evidence from clinical trials published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, found acupuncture was helpful in managing chronic back and knee pain (1).  This is a very important finding in the midst of the current epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 40 Americans die each day of prescription opioid overdoses (2).  Many doctors are at a loss for how to help their patients experiencing chronic pain now that the full extent of the problem with opioids is known.  

Fortunately, acupuncture can reduce and in some cases even eliminate the need for opioid and non-opioid drugs in cases of acute and chronic pain.  Pain is the most common ailment I treatment in my Dunwoody, Georgia acupuncture clinic.  Each day I treat people with low back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip pain and headaches.  Most patients leave in less pain then when they arrived and most complete their course of care and get back to living the life they love. 

You can read my blog post about back pain here.

This ancient medicine brings profound healing for the body and addresses the emotional weariness that comes with chronic pain.  So many of my patients arrived depressed and exhausted…emotionally worn out from months or years of pain.  Acupuncture lightens their mood, gives them hope and brings them relief from pain.  

If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic pain call 404-695-0905 today to schedule and appointment and get your life back. 


1.     Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. September 2016;91(9):1292-1306.

2.     The Daily Press, March 15, 2016.http://www.dailypress.com/news/hc-cdc-opiate-guidelines-0315-20160315-story.html

Cupping is Not Only for Olympians

While cupping has been practiced for centuries it certainly is getting a lot of play at the 2016 Olympics!  The first documented use of cupping dates back to 1550 BC but most Americans have learned about cupping after seeing the signature round cupping marks on athletes and celebrities in the last few years.  As cupping has increased in popularity I get more requests for it at my Decatur, GA acupuncture clinc. 

Cupping is one tool in my Chinese Medicine toolbox.  The idea behind cupping is quite simple: a specially made glass, bamboo or plastic cup is suctioned onto the skin.  The vacuum pulls the tissue up into the cup that increases the circulation of blood and lymph thus relieving muscle tension and soreness.  In traditional fire cupping, the kind I generally practice, a flame creates the vacuum in the cup before it is placed on the body.   Once the cups are applied they can be gently moved over the body or sit stationary depending on the goal of the treatment. 

I like to use cupping for back and shoulder pain and find that it works best in conjunction with acupuncture.  For example, I have a lot of people come in with tight upper back, shoulders and neck due to stress and too much time sitting at a computer.  Cupping works to relieve the muscle tension but acupuncture works on the nervous system to induce a state of deep relaxation.  Over time this relaxation extends into a shift in how your body actually responds to stress. 

Cupping is not only used for muscle tension.  I frequently use cupping for respiratory conditions as it works to clear congestion from the lungs.  And, because cupping works to increase circulation, it can also provide relief for people who suffer from chronic fatigue. 

So, what are those marks that cupping leaves?  First off, they are not bruises.   The marks are not tender and there is no trauma to the skin, which is the hallmark of a bruise.  The discoloration is simply old, deoxygenated blood that has been pulled out of the muscle to help the body recover faster.   The color of the marks and how long they last is actually diagnostic.  If practiced by a skilled acupuncturist cupping should not hurt and should not create any blisters.  You may feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup but that often feels good and relaxes sore muscles.  Most people say how relaxed and loose they feel after receiving cupping. 

Ready to try cupping?  Schedule your appointment today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture...Part 1

In my Decatur acupuncture clinic I get asked these questions all of the time.  Since they crop up frequently I think it means that they are great questions!  So, if you are new to acupuncture and have wondered about these things then this post is for you!  Or perhaps you have been seeing me and just have not asked your burning question…then this post is for you too! 

1. Does it hurt?  This has to be the top question and for good reason!  Who wants to do something that hurts?   Acupuncture should not be painful (and this goes for cupping and gua sha as well).  You may feel a momentary sharpness, a zing or some achiness with some points but that should be gone before you can even tell me about it.  I have many patients that don’t feel any of the needles and a few that are more sensitive but still don’t find the process painful.  I have had people come see me after receiving “dry needling” from a physical therapist because it was so painful. I can make their pain go away without actually causing them pain in the process.  A win-win. 

2. Are the needles sterile?  Yes, acupuncture needles are sterile, single-use, medical devices.  After one use they are placed in a sharps container and disposed of as medical waste.  All acupuncturists are required to have certification in clean needle technique.   

3. What should I do or not do after an acupuncture treatment?  In general you want to take it easy for a few hours after a treatment.  You don’t have to go home and curl up on the couch (but by all means do so if you want!) but just go easy for a few hours.  Give your body what it wants.  Drink water, move gently, eat lightly.  Don’t do a big workout or hop in a sauna or hit the bar.  Just let your body integrate the treatment and go for a run or do that ashtanga yoga class tomorrow. 

4.  How many treatments will I need?  The number of acupuncture treatments depends upon you and how long your have been experiencing your problem.  If it is something that has been going on for years it will likely take more treatments than something that happened last weekend.  For example, if you wrenched your back last weekend we can probably get your back to pain-free and fully functioning in a couple of treatments.  If you have been experiencing back pain for the last year that will take more then a couple of treatments to resolve.  You will likely feel relief in the first one to two sessions but to fully resolve any long standing issue you will need to correct the underlying problem.  Think of it like taking antibiotics.  You start to feel better in the first couple of days but you need to complete the course of medication or your risk a relapse. 

5.  What conditions does acupuncture treat?  Just about anything!  In the era of super specialized medicine this sounds crazy to some people.  Because acupuncture focuses on re-establishing health rather than chasing symptoms it can resolve a wide range of issues.  Check out this page for a list of conditions I commonly treat: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/conditions/

6.  How can acupuncture treat issues like anxiety and depression?  Many people think acupuncture is just for physical pain.  While it is fantastic at resolving physical pain it is equally powerful for resolving emotional pain.  Chinese Medicine is holistic, meaning it treats the mind, body and spirit.  The mind, body and spirit are inseparable and emotions can impact the health of the physical body and visa versa.  Think about the last time you experienced a loss or heartbreak, it probably took a physical toll as well as an emotional toll.  With the heaviness in your chest you may have felt like your heart was physically breaking.  The emotions are just a more ethereal aspect of our body.  My background is in social work and I bring a particular expertise in treating psychological issues.  Here are some related blog posts you might enjoy: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/brokenopen and http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/relieveanxietytwithacupuncture .

Have a burning question I missed?  Please write it the comment section and I’ll do a part 2 blog post!

Heal Low Back Pain with Acupuncture

I have been using acupuncture to treat a lot of low back pain lately.  Acute “threw my back out” type of pain, chronic daily achiness type of pain, sciatic pain shooting down my legs and “when I move this way I get stuck” type of pain. 

Low back pain affects millions of people each year and is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.  The most common Western Medicine treatment for low back pain is to prescribe pain medication and perhaps a course of physical therapy.  Many of my patients went this route and found that they still had pain and their physical activity was still limited.  They came in for acupuncture because they wanted to live a pain-free, medication-free life.  Who doesn’t? 

Acupuncture is effective for back pain due to disk herniation, sprained/strained muscles, arthritis, failed back surgery and other causes.  Research has shown acupuncture to be more effective than NSAIDs in relieving pain.  A meta-analysis (fancy word for systematic review of high quality research trials) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found acupuncture was found effective for reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis, chronic headache, shoulder pain, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and back pain (Vickers AJ, Linde K. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain. JAMA. 2014;311(9):955-956. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285478).

What I find in my clinic is that acupuncture provides lasting results.  Patients typically leave in much less pain than when they arrived.  For the first time they feel hope.  Hope that they can get back to doing what they love, hope that they can sleep through the night without pain, hope that they can crawl around on the floor with their kids/grandkids, hope that they can just get back to feeling like themselves again. That pain relief?  It’s real.  However acupuncture is not magic; it is medicine.  Just like antibiotics or physical therapy there is a course of treatment that should be followed.  Acupuncture gently moves your body back into a state of balance.  With treatment, I find that patients’ hopes become reality. 

Want to get back to living the life you love?  Call and schedule your first appointment today. 

Heal Injuries and Improve Sports Performance with Acupuncture!

Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries.  Some of the earliest uses of acupuncture were to heal injuries and increase stamina of Chinese warriors and soldiers.  It has survived for 2000 years because it works! 

Today many professional sports and Olympic teams have acupuncturists on staff.  From 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali of Team Asana to Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rogers athletes are looking for ways to shorten recovery time and boost performance.

Acupuncture is highly effective for both acute and chronic injuries.  In fact, the World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment for injuries, orthopedic conditions, and acute and chronic pain. 

Acupuncture can accelerate the healing time of acute injuries such as strains, sprains and even broken bone by increasing blood flow to the area and decreasing swelling and bruising.  Increased blood flow allows cells responsible for tissue repair and remodeling to get to the area of injury and start working.  Acupuncture is especially useful when tendons and ligaments are involved as they have less blood flow by nature; acupuncture creates microcirculation thus increasing blood flow. 

Acupuncture is also very effective for chronic pain related to common sports injuries such as IT Band Syndrome, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, tennis and golfers elbow and shoulder pain.  These common injuries can cause athletes to reduce training or stop altogether.  Left untreated they can snowball into a variety of compensation injuries as athletes try to continue training and unintentionally change their movement patterns to protect the injured area.  Similarly to acute injuries, acupuncture increases blood flow allowing for tissue repair and remodeling.  Additionally, acupuncture points are frequently located at trigger points in muscles and get great relief when needled.  Other acupuncture points are located at muscle motor points or at nerve rich tendons thus having both a nervous system and muscular system effect. 

Another common area of concern for athletes is overtraining.  Having multiple workouts in a row with fatigue and tired and/or heavy legs can be a sign of overtraining.  Rest, good nutrition and acupuncture can help you climb out of that hole before it gets too deep! 

While it is great for athletes that acupuncture relieves pain and resolves injuries but it is even more beneficial before those things surface.  Acupuncture naturally boosts energy levels, aids recovery from hard training and races and improves overall performance.  Studies have shown that athletes who received acupuncture for muscle soreness 24 to 48 hour exercising to exhaustion reported significantly less pain then those who did not receive acupuncture.  Several athletes that I treat for issues unrelated to performance have posted PRs with less effort and quicker recovery. 

Looking to heal and injury or improve performance?  Call Karen at 404.695.0905 today to schedule and appointment!