The Doctor’s Office, Evolved: Local M.D.s Launch Fully Integrative Health Center

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by Karen G. Meshkov

Montgomery Integrative Health Group (MIHG), located inside a beautifully renovated, historic schoolhouse in Wyndmoor, feels more like a community center than a doctor’s office. Announcements for yoga classes and acupuncture sessions are handwritten in brightly colored chalk while patients and staff bustle about, creating an energy that’s warm and inviting.

The differences between MIHG and traditional medical practices are many. Here, patients are “members” that experience a host of unique benefits, such as personal health assessment coaching, an onsite chiropractor, acupuncturist and massage therapist, as well as community classes and meetup groups.

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Letter from the Publisher, June 2017

PAIN has an element of blank; / It cannot recollect

When it began, or if there were / A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself, / Its infinite realms contain

Its past, enlightened to perceive / New periods of pain.

~Emily Dickenson

Karen Meshkov, Natural Awakenings BuxMontPain is a chronic condition shared by 100 million Americans; it’s the leading reason people go to doctors in the U.S., costing the nation upwards of $635 billion a year—more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

WebMD explains how vast and amorphous the condition can be, saying, “Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating…the signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years.” Sometimes the cause is known, or eventually discovered; sometimes the source remains a mystery.

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Cutting-Edge Vets: Doylestown Vets’ Integrative Care Ethos

by Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov

DoyltestownVeterinaryHospital-Buddy1_0417It’s a Monday evening at Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Pet Care (DVH) and Buddy, a senior golden retriever, is lying belly down on the examination table. To one who has never seen a dog with a collection of acupuncture needles sticking out of his back, the scene might seem a bit strange. Acupuncture treatment sessions are an essential part of Buddy’s wellness regimen, as are similar treatments for many people who rely on this 2,000-year-old healing modality.

When his owners first came to DVH, he was suffering from pain and lameness. Buddy’s situation was serious with no conventional treatment options left to try. It was one year ago that they were lucky enough to find Dr. David MacDonald, one of the hospital’s resident veterinarians who specializes in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Buddy turns 13 years old next week, and his condition continues to improve.

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Many Paths To Healing: Exploring Modern Mental Health Practices, Treatments and Modalities

by Karen L. Smith, Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov

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Life is not without its ups and downs. At some point in the journey, we will likely be presented with circumstances that upset our mood and behavior. Though many tools and resources are available that can help us on our path to optimal mental health, the first challenge is figuring out what kind of help we need, and where we can get it.

As an advocate of integrative, holistic and complementary approaches to healing, Natural Awakenings offers this guide as our attempt to survey the contemporary healing landscape and raise awareness of the myriad resources available to those seeking inroads to a more emotionally healthy, happy and balanced life.

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Acupuncture, Actually: A Practical Look at Qi and ‘Energy’

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Paolo Propato and Grace Rollins, licensed acupuncturists at Bridge Acupuncture, discuss the energetics of acupuncture and what it’s like to work and train in their field of Chinese medicine.

Paolo: What is qi?
Grace: Many people think of qi as “energy”, but I think that’s too materialistic of a translation. Qi is basically a very useful term that sums up complex processes that together create recognizable phenomena in the body. If you try to think of qi as some kind of literal substance or force you’re just going to frustrate people interested in scientific backing; you won’t find a measurable “energy” that corresponds to what people who practice Asian medicine are talking about.

“Qi” for acupuncturists is “weather” as it relates to the body. Weather is electromagnetic and gravitational relationships between elements and molecules; it’s pressure dynamics, thermodynamics, radiation; it’s many processes, all overlapping and influencing each other. We can study it, characterize it and make predictions about it. The same way that we recognize many patterns in weather, we learn how to recognize patterns in qi, so we can influence bodily functions and promote health.

P: What do acupuncture methods actually do?
G: The traditional answer is that they stimulate special points that harmonize qi in the body, thereby promoting proper function and health. Scientifically, stimulating acupuncture points with needles and moxa has been shown to generate complex responses.

Needling causes distortions in chains of connective tissue throughout the body, which link different muscle groups, joints and organs. It also fires nerve endings that light up vastly different areas of the brain and spinal cord. Acupuncture causes an electrical distortion in the body’s electromagnetic field—you’re putting a metal needle into an ionic solution (the body), which immediately creates an electrical polarity. The micro-injury caused by needling and moxa heat is also a very powerful method of stimulating the immune system and cytokines (chemical messengers). Plus, with acupuncture needles you can physically loosen tight muscle and connective tissue to release restrictions and improve blood flow.

I think one of the challenges in studying acupuncture scientifically is that its methods do so much, all at once. One exact mechanism eludes us. That’s why, even though I have a very scientifically oriented mind, I still prefer the traditional Chinese and Japanese pre-scientific theoretical concepts. We still haven’t discovered a better way to describe the complex processes happening here.

P: What makes acupuncture unique compared to other modalities that work with the subtle energy of the body?
G: Acupuncture is old, people! Over 2,500 years old! Moxibustion, the practice of heating acupoints with the ember of dried mugwort, is even older. So even though acupuncture is dealing with complexities that resist the scientific method, it has withstood a very important test with its continued use over such a long period of time.

A good scientist remains open-minded to the things that science doesn’t yet have the tools to measure and explain. That applies to a lot of what happens in healing. But that doesn’t mean you have to be open-minded to everything. Innovation is good. It helps our medicine get better and better, but with a methodology that is mainly observational, you have to be careful not to be led astray.

For this reason, I approach change cautiously, and I gravitate toward Japanese acupuncture, which monitors feedback during the session. We’re always checking diagnostic qualities in the pulse, the abdomen or a symptomatic area for signs that our treatments are having the desired effect. Vetting my methods this way gives me confidence.

P: What are you feeling for before, during and after needling?
G: Patients like to ask me if I can “feel the energy,” and if you think of it like qi, the summation of complex processes, then the answer is absolutely yes. We rely on touch, smell, sight and sound to collect information about the patient—especially touch in Japanese acupuncture. If I have to wear a Band-Aid on just one finger, I feel like I have a hand tied behind my back—it affects what I can feel.

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Before needling, I’m feeling diagnostically for areas of restriction, imbalance and dysfunction in the patient. This might be structural, as in certain muscle groups or vertebral bodies that are too tight, twisted or compressed. Often internal imbalances will also be represented by certain qualities in the pulse, on the tongue or in reflective zones of the abdomen and back. For example, cardiac problems often show up with specific tender points on the upper torso and back.

Next I’m feeling for an appropriate point location; there are traditional anatomical locations as well as certain qualities that identify a “live” point. Depending on the point, it might be a recessed area, a tight spot, a tender spot, thicker skin or connective tissue—qualities that indicate a more effective point. When I insert the needle, there is a feeling I seek that acupuncturists call the “arrival of qi”. To me it’s like a density on the end of the needle, like it’s connected well. Learning to recognize it is part of our craft.

After needling I will re-check the diagnostic signs to see if the acupuncture was successful at balancing the qi. If I did a good job there should be signs of improvement; if not, I might need another point, or a different one, or to add moxa, for example.

I’m also feeling the qi of the person as a whole. This is the intuitive part, synthesizing the input from all of my senses.

P: How do you cultivate the necessary skills?
G: I started studying acupuncture at the same time I started studying Aikido and Zen meditation. Like acupuncture, Aikido trains the various senses of the body to harmonize with another person’s qi. These practices help me to be more centered and attuned to my patients, and to myself.

An invaluable part of my training is a regular apprenticeship with the acupuncture master Kiiko Matsumoto. I spend at least two or three weeks a year shadowing her here and in Japan, taking in practical knowledge as well as the qi of her practice—the complex combination of qualities that allow her to be a dynamic, effective practitioner.

Taking my own health seriously is also a critical way that I stay attuned to the balance of qi in others. I believe in it, I live it! I work on my posture throughout the day and study how to move in a way that’s healthy and efficient. I try to eat in a way that’s balanced ecologically, that doesn’t do me harm and that fills me with vitality. I get outdoors and experience the natural world to help keep those areas of my consciousness and humanity alive. I meditate, do yoga and exercise a lot, and I try to play and have fun. Last but not least, I get regular acupuncture!

Bridge Acupuncture, located at 30 Garden Alley, in Doylestown, is a Legacy Advertising partner of Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. To schedule an appointment with Paolo Propato or Grace Rollins, call 215-348-8058 or visit BridgeAcupuncture.com. October 2016.

Letter from the Publisher, October 2016

Karen_LFP_0516Fall is a time for learning, and this October, our curriculum includes current trends in energy medicine, energy healing and energy psychology (EP). Within the umbrella of “energy work” there exists a wide range of treatment options, from the ancient to the innovative, all with the purpose of balancing the body’s energetic flow, and achieving an optimal state of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Well-known body-centered practices like yoga, massage, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology and osteopathic manipulation; EP techniques including Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or “tapping”; Eric Pearl’s reconnective therapy; and Donna Eden’s energy medicine curriculum are only a sampling of the modalities that make up this growing body of practices.

We’re also celebrating the sea change in popular culture, as energy healing as a whole becomes more widely recognized by the mainstream. The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s 2012 survey reports that approximately 38 percent of U.S. adults and approximately 12 percent of children used some form of complementary health treatment, and that they collectively spent $30 billion in out-of-pocket costs on those services. Nearly 30 percent of that spending was for practices classified as energy medicine. The office’s 2016 strategic plan allocates considerable federal money to continued clinical trials to identify the safety and usefulness of these practices in disease prevention and treatment. Surely, this is a sign of a turning tide.

Examples of this shift abound in healthcare, educational and correctional settings. Yoga, after proving its efficacy as a form of physical fitness and stress relief, is currently being mined for its usefulness in managing more subtle, energetic aspects of mind and emotional regulation in schools, rehabilitation and prison settings.

Major medical centers are now offering a range of complementary and mind-body approaches, such as acupuncture, tai chi and massage, in combination with conventional, allopathic medical treatment, and they are measuring their results in respected, peer-reviewed journals. Nurses are training in reiki and Healing Touch and are offering those services to patients in oncology, surgical and palliative settings. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, over 800 American hospitals offered reiki as part of their hospital services.

Whereas EP evidence was mostly anecdotal ten years ago, The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) now cites over 80 research studies, including multiple randomized controlled trials published in professional and refereed journals, that confirm the treatment value of energy psychology when applied to many different problems, such as post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress management and performance enhancement. In 2012, ACEP became the first organization to be approved by the APA to give psychologists continuing education for energy psychology.

The research investigating the benefits of these modalities continues to increase as the interest from the public demands it.

It’s exciting to think about how these developments could impact the way we approach physical and mental health in our near and distant futures. Imagine teachers that can help children with ADHD into yoga poses, nurses trained to use hands-on healing after chemotherapy sessions, test proctors teaching EFT to a room of nervous students, and law enforcement officers skilled at guided mindful meditation, bringing presence and peace to the carceral environment.

Come, open your mind with us, and consider the possibilities for wellness in a more “energetic” tomorrow.

Together, we are “Making the Awakening” in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

Karen G. Meshkov

From Healed to Healers

Personal Experiences Inspire Local Acupuncturists

by Elisa Smith

rachel rizziRachel Rizzi, M.S., L.Ac., of Great Spring Acupuncture, had such a positive experience with acupuncture as a young adult that she decided to pursue it as a career. “I felt better physically and emotionally and wanted to be able to help others in the same way,” she says.
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The Yin and Yang of Addiction

Breaking the Cycle with Acupuncture and Lifestyle

by Grace Rollins and Paolo Propato

yin and yang of addictionOvereating, sugar, coffee, smartphone checking, YouTube binging, over-exercising. It may not be news that drugs, sex and gambling aren’t the only addictions out there.

Many people have behaviors they feel a compulsion toward on a regular basis, even though it negatively impacts their health, quality of life, finances or relationships. What gets in the way of acting in our own best interests? And what makes some people more vulnerable to addiction?
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JUNE 2015: Healing Addiction, Table of Contents

Click on image to read issue
or see Table of Contents below

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Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

Bridge Acupuncture, of Doylestown, is holding a free informational session about quitting smoking using acupuncture, from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m., February 19. At the meeting, Paolo Propato, licensed acupuncturist, will demonstrate the simple, virtually painless five-point ear acupuncture protocol that has been proven to help quitters reduce their cravings and succeed in staying off tobacco long enough to end addiction.
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Local Podiatrist and Acupuncturist Utilizes Lasers to Help Patients

Integrative Health Care is pleased to announce the arrival of the Nexus Laser—continuous wave-pulsed lasers delivering biostimulation therapy—in its Fountainville office. Dr. Lisa Rhodes, DPM, LAc, has found that lasers are used beneficially to address three major areas of patient problems, including pain/inflammation, unsightly toenails and wounds or infections.
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Find the Best Chiropractor for You

One of the most popular questions we hear is, “Who is the best chiropractor in the area?” To be fair, there are many qualified, well-established, and talented practitioners in the area. When selecting a chiropractor, one size does not fit all, and despite their reputation, not all chiropractors are “rack ’em, crack ’em”. It is well known that chiropractors do adjustments, but what makes one chiropractor different from another?

We decided to take a deeper look at some of the practices in the area to see what makes each unique, when you take the chiropractic out of the chiropractor.

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