Dr. Laurie Terzo, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, incorporates massage, cupping, guasha, functional medicine, and Chinese herbal medicine into your acupuncture treatment when warranted and explain how each addresses your particular condition.
Gua Sha is a manual therapy technique that uses different types of tools to mobilize and break up adhesions on the muscle, promote blood flow, move lymphatic fluid, and release stuck energy.
Gua sha is the light stroking of the skin, following meridians, muscle, and fascia lines. While your practitioner can apply a gua sha technique anywhere on the body and in many clinical situations, it is most often applied to the face, neck, and back, and it is called for anytime there is pain, inflammation, and stagnation in the body.
The secret of how gua sha works lies in how connective tissues function in our body. Connective tissue supports, connects, transmits, and contains every cell in the human body. Fascia, a type of connective tissue, connects the skin to deep layers of muscle, and to all other tissues, in what has been called a “body-wide signaling network.” The stroking technique of gua sha activates the most superficial level of fascia, which in turn activates both deep layers of fascia and organs far from the site of the stroking. This action releases deep muscle tension, increases micro-circulation, and causes vasodilation, all associated with pain reduction.
Clinical research has demonstrated that gua sha immediately reduces pain near the site of application as well as far from the site of application, making it a fantastic treatment method for any type of pain in the body (new, old, musculoskeletal, organ, digestive, headache, or just about anything else you can think of).
Gua sha has been around for a loooooooong time, it is incredibly useful and versatile and we love using it here in our clinic because of its unique ability to stimulate of the immune system through fascia and connective tissue.
Benefits of Gua Sha:
Relieving pain, especially from repetitive overuse, inexplicable muscle pain, pain from past injuries
Boost the immune system and relieve the symptoms of the common cold or flu
Faster recovery time from injuries
Facial Gua Sha (which I'll go into detail in another post) can de-puff the face by facilitating lymphatic drainage into the neck and bring fresh blood & nutrients to the skin for that healthy glow
What Are Those Red Marks? Don’t be alarmed, though; absolutely no pain or drama was involved. Sha of the skin may cause splotchy red marks (similar to cupping) to appear in the area as the blood rises to the surface of the skin. In Chinese Medicine we call this Sha
The "Sha" only appears in areas of tight muscles or area with muscular adhesions.
Don't worry, the marks are painless and will go away after a few days.
What To Do After Your Gua Sha Session
You may feel significant improvement just following your session but its a good idea to take it easy for the rest of the day and not over do it.
Gua sha opens your pores so you must keep the area covered and not exposed to cold, the sun, or wind for the first 24 hours. Although not painful, your skin will be sensitive and more prone to sun burning in that first 24 hours.
Whether you're trying to conceive, prevent pregnancy, or understand your body better, OPKs (Ovulation Predictor Kits) can be pretty darn helpful. Ovulation predictor kits react to the luteinizing hormone that is present in urine, which is at its peak 12–36 hours before the egg is released (or ovulation). While they are not my favorite way of determining ovulation, they are fairly easy to use and have a high accuracy rating. That being said, OPKs come with a few perimeters and a bit of a learning curve.
Below are the basics, pros and cons, tips, brands, and the problems we run across the most in the clinic.
Which to Choose
Fertility Monitors I've found that patients new to tracking their cycle will choose fertility monitors, such as ClearBlue, to track ovulation. These are a bit more high tech because they involve plugging the tests into a small machine that signals low, medium, or high fertility because they track both luteinizing hormone and estrogen levels. Pros
The Clearblue ovulation test detects your four most fertile days (most kits usually predict two) by tracking both LH surge and estrogen. Test once per day until estrogen levels rise, indicating high fertility (displayed with a flashing smiley face). Peak fertility happens after the LH surge, and it’s displayed with a static smiley face.
Considered to be 99% effective
Cons: The reason this is not my favorite:
women's hormones aren't synced up the way the monitor is programmed to look for, so they never get the high fertility signal and are left confused about when ovulation is actually happening.
Possibility of the monitor acting glitchy or not working at all.
Since a majority of women are tracking their cycle over several months, this option can become expensive.
Not a good option if you are over 40 or PCOS.
Now this is an Elanita style complaints, the whole smiley face thing feels less scientific to me and kinda patronizing.
Ovulation Strips These are as basic as it comes, They have one line for negative and two lines for positive, because they only track the rise in luteinizing hormone. When used every day you can see the line get darker and darker until it peaks. Pros:
Less expensive, especially the dip strip format, so you can buy a ton in bulk.
You need to pee into a clean cup first before dipping the test strip in depending on where you are when you test, this might require some coordination, or you might opt for the slightly more expensive midstream version (like these).
Only track LH
User's Manual OPKs are designed to test your urine for luteinizing hormone, which peaks mid-day, so I usually recommend testing sometime between noon-5pm. Begin testing 4-5 days prior to when it's estimated you ovulate, and test every day until after you get a positive. Some tests also often recommend you stop testing once you get a peak, but some women get at least 2 or 3 days of luteinizing hormone peaking before ovulation actually occurs. You can't know which day was your peak day unless you see another negative test again.
You should start taking tests several days before the expected ovulation (with a regular 28-day cycle, you should start on day 11–12).
Continue taking the tests until the result is positive.
It is better to do tests twice a day (but do not use the first morning urine).
Before taking a test, do not drink a lot of water and do not urinate for about 4 hours.
Follow the instructions closely (collect urine in a clean container, put the test strip in it for no more than 10 seconds, check the result no later than 10 minutes).
Track this info in your fertility app or on a graph! This is a great way to get a better understanding of your cycle.
To determine fertile days most accurately, you can additionally measure your basal temperature and/or monitor your cervical mucus during the cycle.
5 Common Problems We See In The Clinic
1. OPKs do NOT confirm that ovulation has occurred Although both urine and saliva kits test for increased hormone levels prior to ovulation, they do not confirm whether ovulation actually occurred. An LH surge can sometimes occur without the release of an egg. Likewise increased estrogen levels are not always followed by ovulation.
2. It is possible to miss the LH surge Because the LH surge can be extremely brief, it can be easy to miss. For this reason, some women may need to test their urine twice a day. If you find that your OPK is never positive, you may just be missing the LH surge. However, it could also mean that you’re not ovulating.
3. You may experience a ‘False’ LH surge It’s possible to have a ‘false’ LH surge before the ‘real’ one occurs. This can result in timing intercourse too early and missing your true fertile time. Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) can continually produce false LH surges.
4. Knowing when to test can be difficult (and can end up being expensive!) If you have irregular cycles, it can be a challenge to know when to begin testing with an OPK. Because the day of ovulation can vary widely between cycles and a urine based kit typically contains a limited number of tests, one kit is sometimes not enough. This can soon become expensive
5. Ovulation predictor kits will NOT alert you to a fertility problem An OPK can only identify when you might ovulate and will not provide other valuable information about your fertility. This is why we always recommend to collect at least 3 months worth of data before "trying" to conceive and use in tandem with another tracking method until you have a good grasp on your cycle.
Lastly... If you suspect you're not ovulating, or if you're having a lot of trouble figuring out if you are, make sure to work with a healthcare provider to create a plan that makes sense for you. If you'd like to work together to regulate your cycle you can learn more about acupuncture, send me a message, or make an appointment.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCING ISSUES WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: IRREGULAR OR DIFFICULT CYCLES, LOW ENERGY AND/OR MOTIVATION, FEELING TIRED, INSOMNIA, LOW SEX DRIVE, DIFFICULTY CONCEIVING?My hormone mini package may be just for you! In this package, I combine my #1 hormone test (the DUTCH test) with a one-hour consult with me reviewing the results and then creating personalized recommendations for your body, mind, and spirit based on the results. Why I love the DUTCH test:
It’s incredibly comprehensive! This test not only takes a look at your reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) but it also looks at the metabolites of these hormones (how the body breaks them down to use and get rid of). It also includes a look at your adrenals - including the main hormones (cortisol, DHEA) and a look at how your body is responding to stress.
It’s easy! The test kit is shipped to your home and utilizes urine (on strips) and saliva samples. These samples of urine and saliva are taken over a one day period and easy to do while at home, work, or out and about.
Gives us SO much specific information! Since this test not only looks at your sex hormones and your adrenal hormones, we are able to map out where your body needs support with nutrition or targeted supplements, vitamins, or herbs.
This test can be used for pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal, and menopausal women.
What’s included in this Mini Hormone Package:
The DUTCH Plus test ($499)
A one-hour phone consult with me ($300) reviewing the results and my personalized recommendations for you based on the test results. This may include nutrition, vitamins, supplements, lifestyle changes.
15% off of any vitamin, herb, or supplement recommendations.
This package normally is $550 for the DUTCH Complete & $650 for the DUTCH Plus, but for a limited time until 6/15/19, I am offering an intro discount of $150 off either test package!
For me, Spring is the most mysterious and confusing of seasons. Winter is a time of comfort and being cozy. Fall is is about organization, getting ready for the holidays, and new routines that lay ahead. Summer is for fun, rest, and indulging. Spring can conjure images of bunnies hopping around, birds singing, and flowers blooming but for me, Sping is really about rebirth, growing, unpredictable weather, and coming out of my lazy winter routine.
What does that really mean - Spring can be one tough season.
In TCM, spring is represented by the element wood. Wood represents birth and newness, the time for fresh ideas and new starts. Unsurprisingly, its color is green like the fresh growth of spring.
Wood governs your spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
A wood imbalance can lead to spinal problems, poor flexibility or arthritis.
Wood also governs your eyes.
Most important for your mood, wood governs your liver. Your liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) and smooth flowing Qi means health and vitality. The emotion associated with your liver is anger. If your liver is imbalanced your Qi will be disrupted and you’ll be angry.
In acupuncture terms, in order to have a healthy and happy spring you need to balance your wood element and care for your liver.
Try these spring acupuncture recommendations, to keep your wood balanced and your liver healthy.
Cleanse. Cleaning your digestive tract releases accumulated toxins, undigested food, parasites and fungi. With a clean colon your digestion is more efficient and your body is healthier.
Detox your liver. Reduce or eliminate alcohol or drugs that are toxic to your liver. Consider a detox that specifically targets your liver. Let us know if you need suggestions or help with this!
Stretch. Start or recommit to a healthy stretching routine. Try yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or other exercises that move, loosen and flex your joints.
Exercise your eyes. Massage your face, especially around your eyes. Roll your eyes and move them in figure 8s. Practice focusing on distant objects and then focusing on close objects in quick succession. Put time limits on your computer sessions. These exercises strengthen your eyes and can improve your eyesight.
Control your anger. If you're notice your anger getting the best of you more days than not, create a healthy anger management plan. Journal, meditate or get counseling. Put limits on stressful situations. Find activities that refocus your energy in healthy ways.
Chinese New Year brings in a festive month of events, exhibits and experiences. The majority of these events, which are held throughout February, are free to the public and welcome families and people of all ages
Links to detailed information about events in our area
February 5, 2019 is the start of the Lunar Year of the Earth (Brown) Pig! The Pig is a kind, generous, and gentle soul. Pigs are naturally peaceful and forgiving, they tend to avoid conflict, unless provoked. In Chinese culture, Pigs symbolize the values of family, friends, home and good food.
The Pig thrives on celebration, ease, enjoyment and whole-heartedly sharing the above with its loved ones. In the Pig year, power and status take the backseat, and everyone is invited to join the fun! The Pig is the last animal of the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle. This points to an opportunity for completion of long-term or delayed projects, closing up of unfinished investigations and lawsuits. Earth element relates to the qualities of stability, nourishment, and harmony, and is also connected to the digestive system in Chinese medicine. The Earth element in a balanced state allows for easy transformation of raw materials into energy and vitality, both in the realm of food and of thought.
The Pig year brings the energy of sticking closer to home, discouraging too much travel. Emotionally, people should have easier access to affection and consolation of their loved ones, and any confrontations should be quick to diffuse. The Pig’s main goal is contentment and enjoyment of life – resetting and preparing for the new 12-year cycle. Here is hoping that the influence of the Earth Pig, will bring us some peace, contentment and the experience of being nourished by our community!
There are a number of chronic degenerative eye problems that respond to acupuncture. In this episode, our guest discusses his experience using acupuncture to effectively treat macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt’s and diabetic retinopathy. Check out our very own Dr. Bezjak. She and Mats Sexton LAc discuss Chinese Medicine and the treatment of eye disorders.discuss not only treating the eyes, but how the eyes are a part of the nervous system and using acupuncture helps the entire body to find a deeper level of health and wellbeing. Click here to listen.
While you may have been told that there is nothing to be done about a diagnosis of macular degeneration, patients receiving acupuncture and herbal medicine have made measurable improvements in their vision loss.
Acupuncture can treat many eye diseases, including but not limited to:
wet or dry type ARMD (macular degeneration)
Patients experience increased visual acuity, improved perception of light, regression of symptoms or halt the progression of disease. About 80% of patients will notice discernible and measurable changes in their vision in 10 treatments.
I know you %$&#!!!! thinking: acupuncture...eyes....is this acupuncture in my eyes?? The answer is, no!
Super fine acupuncture needles go in many assorted places around the body, and are a surprisingly effective, natural approach to controlling and even improving degenerative eye diseases. Herbal medicine is as easy as taking some pills, just like taking any other medication.
Dr. Jennifer Bezjak L.Ac. DACM, has intensive training in the highly specialized treatment approach that is necessary when treating ophthalmologic conditions. She received her masters and her doctorate degree at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco and has studied with Mats Sexton L.Ac., who has been a a TCM eye specialist since 2003. Her mom was her first macular degeneration patient, and her complete regression of the disease inspired Dr. Bezjak to specialize in this complex and vital area of medicine.
Why does acupuncture work when my ophthalmologist says there is no treatment? Because acupuncture treats the whole body along with the eyes. Chronic and degenerative eye disease are often accompanied by systemic diseases like: hypertension, diabetes, digestive issues, menstrual/fertility/menopausal issues, insomnia, or chronic pain. Eyes are sensitive and complex organs, with very tiny vasculature that will be the first to show signs of vulnerability to systemic diseases. Everything is connected. Ophthalmologists are often the first physicians to discover a person’s systemic disease pattern such as stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer. Just as the eyes can be a window to our overall health, Chinese medicine uses the same approach: and treats the whole body to achieve healing in the eyes.
Treatment Plans for Vision Disorders The treatment course for eye care is not like the usual acupuncture appointment.
First time appointments are for 90 minutes to allow plenty of time to discuss your health, evaluate your vision, treat, and to explain herbal prescriptions if necessary. At your first appointment, we will discuss the issue you are seeking treatment for and then we will ask you questions to understand your constitution. Chinese medicine is customized medicine for each individual, so we will likely spend 30 minutes getting to the root of the problem. If an herbal prescription is needed, then we will give you detailed instructions on dose, frequency, and duration of the medicine.
Subsequently, you will receive two 30 minute treatments a day for 5 consecutive days, for a total of 10 treatments in 1 week. You will receive a treatment, take an hour long break and then return for the second treatment that same day. I will perform a visual assessment at the beginning and at the end of the treatment course. Next, we will decide if another 10 session course is appropriate, or if we will move onto to weekly and then monthly treatments.
Payment and Fees Please be advised: While acupuncture in general may be covered by your insurance, acupuncture for vision diseases are not covered. Payment is due at the time of service.
The fee for the initial evaluation and 10 treatments is $3600.
Visual tests are performed to chart the progress of the acupuncture treatments and to gauge their effect on the eyes before and after treatment. The testing is not designed or intended to diagnose any western diseases. If you are having vision problems, you should visit your regular Ophthalmologist for a complete work up.
Dr. Bezjak will not see patients for eye care without a prior ophthalmologists visit.
I love this picture taken from my friend KJ - its a perfect example how bad the air quality is.
Many of us are facing the first hand devastation of the current fires in Northern California. As the Bay Area far and wide is impacted by the heavy, smokey air, we wanted to make a few suggestions to help keep you healthy and safe.
Right now were unsure when the air quality will stabilize but until then before leaving the house - check the ever shifting air quality at airnow.gov
Wear a mask when outside for extended periods. Although a N95 respirator is ideal, some prevention is better than nothing.
Use a Neti pot if you have one. Clearing the build up out of your sinuses daily can help immensely.
Eating pears (check out our recipe here) can calm a scratchy throat and dry cough, especially when boiled or sautéed with honey.
Take extra immune support as your body is recognizing the stressors present. Things like a lingering cough, sinus congestion, and dry, red or watery eyes are examples of ways our immune system lets us know its under stress and trying to rid our body of the junk we're being exposed to. (If you need input here please email us directly)
Remain indoors. Yeah, you won’t hear me say that very often but especially if there is a preexisting vulnerability, it can be very important to avoid unnecessary exposure to more smoke. There is likely still some amount of particulate matter in the air, but it certainly seems lessened.
Don’t increase particulate matter in the air – This includes not lighting candles, woodstoves, fireplaces, cooking food at high temperatures on the stovetop and not vacuuming. All of these activities either increase or create particulate density and circulation in the air.
HEPA filters or even air conditioners with filters and recirculating air can help cut down on particulate matter in the air indoors. Do NOT use an air conditioner or swamp cooler if it doesn’t have air filters or it will only suck in smoke and make breathing conditions worse.
Avoid unnecessarily exerting yourself. Heavy breathing means you’re going to suck in more smoke. Avoid it if possible.
Be especially conscious of breathing conditions for children and pregnant women.
Stay hydrated. Drink detoxifying and cooling teas like dandelion or mint are especially helpful.
If your system tends towards asthma, respiratory conditions, or you have a chronic health issue or weakened immune system please be extra careful
There is not one person in the bay area that has not been affected by this fire. Reach out to all those in your communities that need extra support as well. KQED has put together a great list of ways to help.
Cupping and acupuncture can be very helpful. We've gotten busy at the office since the fires, we are doing our best to accommodate everyone. If you've been affected by the fires either physically or emotionally, please don't hesitate to reach out so we can find a time that works for you!