<![CDATA[Bridge Acupuncture - Gentle and effective acupuncture in Doylestown, Bucks County PA - Blog]]>Mon, 29 Jul 2019 03:59:02 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[From patient to practitioner, and small lessons along the way]]>Sun, 28 Jul 2019 22:29:53 GMThttp://bridgeacupuncture.com/blog/from-patient-to-practitioner-and-small-lessons-along-the-wayPicture
(By Paolo Propato, LAc) Having suffered from life-long sinus issues, I found myself at age 24 sitting in a dark room in Florence, Italy as a heavy set man with a big mustache burned moxa cones. The room filled with the strange smell of mugwort smoke. My thought was, “I am paying this guy to help with my sinuses and he is making smoke.” After the session he was smiling and said, “I can help you. It may take some time and you have to do some dietary changes but I can help you.” I still don’t know why I made another appointment, but in the end it saved me from my doctor's push for surgery.

Fast forward to a few years later in Bucks County, when I found myself calling every acupuncturist in the tri-state area asking if I could hang out in their office. As fate would have it the only one kind enough to invite me in was close to home. Grace let me observe and eventually took me on as her assistant as I began to attend three years of grad school in northern New Jersey for acupuncture.

The nights studying, long car rides to school, odd jobs for extra cash-- although tiring and stressful, there was never a moment I thought of stopping. All I wanted was to go deeper into this medicine. The more I stood by Grace's side and watched patients heal, the more I was fueled to keep going. The smell of moxa, so strange years ago, had infused into my cells.

Certain moments stand out that have affected the way I practice. During my time at the student clinic in Montclair, NJ, I treated many cancer patients. CANCER: the word itself makes people shudder. Most of my classmates were much like myself, from lupus to colitis, they'd had some health issue and it was this medicine that had turned it around, inspiring them to study acupuncture. From my faith in their experiences and in Grace's clinic, I asked to take on these patients. I knew acupuncture could help, and it did.

I remember a patient of ours with cancer who did a tribal African dance for a classmate's baby shower. 

As she danced life poured out of her, filling the room. I teared up; when we first began treating her she was not supposed to have made it this long, and here she was, life of the party. It was then that I understood not to get caught up in the label of the disease, but to treat the root.

Once at Grace's side a patient was suffering from migraines. Prior to her treatment the patient was telling me that the migraines were better, the acupuncture was working. Usually patients say these statements with a smile, but she was more just stating a fact. On the table she seemed uneasy and later on we received an email that she was stopping treatment. I could not understand, why stop now that she was so close. Then I looked at the heading of the email: it was titled "MYGRAINE." It was then I understood that we have relationships with our illnesses and pains, and the process of growing out of them can sometimes be daunting.

There are many other cases that stand out as holding a lesson that helped to shape me as a practitioner. Really, every treatment has done so, no matter if it was for an autoimmune disease, the common cold, or the sciatica that we treat day in and day out. Every single one is unique. No matter the presentation the body is always trying to heal even without the needles or moxa. The body is always trying to find balance. And now I find myself saying, “ I can help, may take some time. You may have to do some dietary changes but I can help.”
<![CDATA[Bill Murray: A sage for the Spring]]>Mon, 22 Apr 2019 20:46:06 GMThttp://bridgeacupuncture.com/blog/bill-murray-a-sage-for-the-springPicture
(By Paolo Propoto, LAc) A few weeks ago I watched a documentary called Bill Murray Stories. A filmmaker travels the globe to find out the truth about urban legends surrounding Bill Murray. These stories revolve around him doing out-of-the-ordinary activities with common folk, like showing up at a frat party and washing their dishes, crashing a wedding, or working as a cashier at a gas station/bait shop in the middle of nowhere. These seemingly spontaneous acts are great examples of moving ourselves in ways that feel uncomfortable and out of routine, and brought to mind an important Daoist concept known as ziran 自然, which can be translated as "spontaneity" or "naturalness."

According to Daoist philosophy, the struggle to maintain ziran in one's life plays a role in the origin of pathology and disease. It's like a horse on a farm, saddled and fenced, versus the horse able to roam freely according to her nature. The longer she is subject to artificial restraints, the harder it is for her to rediscover her spontaneity were she allowed to roam free. If her nutritional, physical, mental and spiritual needs are met she may live a good ol’ life on the farm, but if she is locked up all day in solitude or overworked, pathology may ensue since these conditions are so far removed from her state of ziran.

If we follow this pathology back to its beginning--the horse no longer being free to roam--we will find what is called in Chinese medicine “Qi stagnation.” Knowingly or not, the family you were born into, the location and time period, the experiences as a child and throughout life shape your thoughts, create your actions, and become habits and lifestyle patterns, which in turn affect your mental and physical health.

Sometimes the resulting patterns do not agree with your naturalness, creating blockages and stagnation, like a creek hitting a dam. The flow will stagnate and lead up to a build up of debris and pathogens, or the water will go off course, flooding some areas and drying up others. If we can get into a state of ziran, blockages can be released and peace and joy can become once again our natural state.

This brings us back to Bill Murray. At first doing something different may create pensiveness and fear.That fear is the blockage of Qi, but once you go through the experience that block may be liberated. An analogy on the physical level is during first five minutes of a jog you feel heavy but then you hit that point where something shifts, lightness comes over you and you get into a zone. In acupuncture we call this "dredging the channels." By doing something out of our norm and challenging that part of us we are freeing the accumulations from lack of ziran.

This is very important when we look at the Spring's energetic nature: that of moving outward. After the hibernation of the Winter, Qi begins to make its way from the hidden interior back to the surface. This is a time many people begin to feel ill or out of sorts. This can be from pathology lying dormant and suddenly flowing outward, or from Qi trying to move to the exterior but being impeded. Why pathology; why impeded? From our mindsets and habits that we have been living out for many years.

By adding naturalness and spontaneity to our lives we can create new avenues for the Qi to pass. Allowing yourself to try different ways of eating, interacting with different people, experiencing different places, even exploring different postures and types of movement, you may discover modes of feeling joyful, energetic or peaceful. Sometimes acupuncture will liberate that state for a time, helping guide your discernment to the activities that feel in harmony with a state of free-flowing Qi.

The awareness that you may be something else than what you have been accustomed to may bring a sense of fear, curiosity or ecstasy into your mind and heart. This is an invitation to look deeper into your body and mind and ask, “Who am I?” Do not fear the answer but try to enjoy the process of all the possibilities. If you are moving naturally there is no conflict. There is a saying in Daoism, “There are 36 million ways to the Dao.” Find your way, no one else’s, even if that means washing dishes at some frat house at 3am.

<![CDATA[Yin-to-Yang seasonal change: Time for a tune-up]]>Sun, 31 Mar 2019 23:33:07 GMThttp://bridgeacupuncture.com/blog/yin-to-yang-seasonal-change-time-for-a-tune-upPicture
In classical Chinese medicine, our bodies are not seen as separate from the phenomena of nature. The transitions between seasons tend to be the most unstable, vulnerable times for human beings, when annoying symptoms and remitted conditions are more likely to flare up or be slow to recover. In particular, the transitions from Yang-to-Yin (Spring/Summer to Fall/Winter) and Yin-to-Yang (Fall/Winter to Spring/Summer) are difficult times for our health, and therefore a great time to harmonize with an acupuncture tune-up.

Even without our prompting, we notice every year that our clinic gets very busy during these transitions. We love taking care of the people we've been seeing over the years, and really like to emphasize the value of using acupuncture as preventative medicine-- to manage stress, keep your immune system healthy, and address symptoms before things get too haywire! We hope you will look ahead at your schedule and book a session if we haven't seen you in a while. It's also the perfect time to try acupuncture if you're new to our practice.

Enjoy those buds and flowers as they start to appear! 
<![CDATA[Simple rules for any diet]]>Fri, 01 Feb 2019 08:00:00 GMThttp://bridgeacupuncture.com/blog/simple-rules-for-any-dietPicture
(By Paolo Propato) Many people have been asking me if they should start a ketogenic diet. This diet is sparking interest and having many question what is best for their health. We have vegan, vegetarian, paleo, mediterranean... the list goes on. Each has positive aspects which helped certain people lose weight or overcome a health issue. Yet this does not mean a particular diet will necessarily work for you.

Someone that is anemic will not hear me advise to begin a vegan diet; nor would I prescribe a green juice fast to someone that been weakened by illness. Everything has its proper time and function.

In acupuncture we treat the individual pattern of a patient no matter what the symptom. If five people come in with back pain, different points will be used for each of them according to what is being seen through the pulses and palpation. We may also needle points that are known empirically to be effective for a symptom. As in acupuncture, a healing diet needs to be tailored to individual needs.

There are also dietary principles that can apply broadly across many styles of diet. How we eat is the beginning of the digestive process. Eating on the run is not the same as sitting with your food and savoring your meal. The art of taking time with your food to slowly appreciate its smell and color activates saliva and sends signals to the gut to prepare for digestion.

I observed the value of this process with my nephew at a birthday party.Once the commercial cake came out and he sat down and began to savor it. Suddenly, he pushed it away in disgust and said, “Tastes like chemical.” As a child who still mindfully tastes his food, he was aware of the difference between Nonna's broccoli rabe and homemade sausage, and the taste of processed junk. Taking time with each portion, he was able to listen to what his taste buds were telling him.

Refined sugars and processed foods only burden our system. How can the body adequately take care of a virus, parasite or any other stressor if it has to constantly use its energy to effectively break down substances that we as a species are not used to? By that measure, we must be careful of foods that have been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and chemicals. Choosing organic will help to reduce these toxins in your food supply as well as what contaminates our farmworkers and shared environment.

Variety is also important. No one food contains all the nutrients your body needs. If your eyes feast on the spectrum of colors represented in your diet and on your plate, your cells will be feasting as well. And just as the fading chlorophyll of fall leaves reveals the previously hidden colors, know that any green food contains within it a whole spectrum of colors (healing carotenes and antioxidants) as well. But it's not just about the plants; make sure you vary your other foods in order to access the broad variety of amino acids, minerals, fibers, organic acids, and vitamins.

Time and season adds another dimension to diet. Food comes at its proper time and should be eaten at its proper time. Try to eat in-season and as local as possible. Visit Japan and eat fish, but perhaps don't go to the desert of Dubai for sushi. Modern technology has made it possible to eat watermelons in February, but it doesn’t mean you should. Natural ways of preserving those foods for a later date traditionally involved some type of fermentation that has the bonus of aiding digestion and adding probiotics to the diet.

Of all the cultures that I have experienced from friends--Mexico, Russia, Italy, Iran, and Afghanistan--their cuisines all shared these simple facts before modernization. Putting into practice these 3 main points can already dramatically change your health despite what type of diet you follow: 

1. Take time with your food 
2. No refined sugars or processed foods 
3. Variety, local, organic and seasonal is best

​Buon appetito!
<![CDATA[Evidence for acupuncture as compared to common overused medical procedures]]>Tue, 08 Jan 2019 08:00:00 GMThttp://bridgeacupuncture.com/blog/evidence-for-acupuncture-as-compared-to-common-overused-medical-proceduresPicture
In this beautifully written report, "Acupuncture: An Overview of Scientific Evidence," studies examining the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of medical conditions are meta-reviewed and summarized. Some findings: 

* A 2013 network meta-analysis comparing physical treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee found that, when looking at high quality studies, acupuncture had the largest effect compared to usual care out of the conditions evaluated, out-performing exercise, sham acupuncture, and weight-loss. 
* A 2015 network meta-analysis comparing treatments in addition to exercise for shoulder impingement syndrome found that acupuncture was the most effective adjunctive treatment out of 17 interventions, outperforming all other adjuncts such as steroid injection, NSAIDs, and ultrasound therapy. 
* A 2016 comparison of 20 treatments for sciatica ranked acupuncture as 2nd most effective after the use of biological agents, outperforming manipulation, epidurals, disc surgery, opioids, exercise, and an invasive procedure called radiofrequency denervation, which came in last 
* In 2018, a network-meta-analysis found that acupuncture was more effective than drugs for treating chronic constipation and with the fewest side-effects.

The report places the evidence for acupuncture in context by highlighting the overuse of many highly invasive medical procedures which lack scientific support. "With such high use of medical treatments that are more likely to harm than help, it becomes axiomatic that in many clinical situations, patients would be best served to start with safer treatments, such as acupuncture, when indicated."
Finally, the report discusses the current research on known mechanisms of acupuncture, a knowledge base which has grown significantly in recent years. This should be interesting to anyone with a little bit of biology background and a lot of curiosity about "how exactly does acupuncture work?!" See the full report here.