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Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of Gua Sha

Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of Gua Sha

Gua sha is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. Practitioners of this medicine believe that a person’s qi, or energy, must flow unhindered throughout the body so you can feel your best. When qi becomes stagnant, health problems occur. With Gua sha, your acupuncturist uses a smooth-edged tool to gently scrape areas of your body where inflammation or stagnant qi exist to help improve circulation and promote healing. When done correctly, Gua sha can help you unlock radiant skin and achieve holistic well-being. continue reading »

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How Much Sex is Healthy?



Not a frequently addressed subject in western medicine, most likely mostly because they don’t have a strong point of view, possibly also due to society’s repression on the matter. Is sex healthy, and if so, how often?

Generally, the answer is yes, sex is healthy, although most of us have heard stories of people—usually men—going into cardiac arrest and dying in the act. Much more common is the experience, also predominantly for men, of feeling exhausted or depleted immediately following. The French nickname the orgasm, le petit morte, or “little death.” The Chinese believe our “jing,” or fundamental physiological essence is stored within ejaculatory fluids, especially those of men. Supposedly women’s jing is stored more in placental fluids and lost through pregnancy and childbirth. Yet I have never heard a medical professional, beyond my own colleagues and teachers, discuss the issue.

Supposedly, up until our mid-20’s we have a relatively unlimited reserve of “jing,” and afterwards, we should be more mindful of how much we expend. I can’t relay a one-size-fits-all rule, but based on what I’ve read, in our thirties a few times a week is considered healthy, in our forties and fifties about once a week, and a maximum of a few times per month in our sixties and beyond. Any more would expend too much—any less could create stasis in the urogenital microbiome, which could send inflammatory heat upwards to the central nervous system. In other words, extended dry spells create stress. Overindulgence creates weakness.

Supposedly, sex is healthier than masturbation, first because of how supportive it is for the psyche, and how the “fire element” of the mind and heart balances the “water element” of our kidneys, or adrenal health. In theory, depletion of the latter might explain why overexcitement of the former can be the final straw to cardiac arrest. Secondly, although in the process men lose jing no matter what, it is hypothesized that by absorbing their partner’s genital fluids, jing is supplemented. There are ancient Taoist practices of men withholding their ejaculation or ejaculating “internally” to conserve, though this is not advisable in my opinion, without proper guidance and instruction.

According to the circadian clock of Chinese medicine, the optimum time to have sex is in the window of the pericardium, from 7-9pm, which would make the least healthy time between 7-9am, which is generally not a problem for people with small children. Besides the “ministerial fire of the pericardium” being weaker in the morning, most of us would have to still pursue our day’s activities sans the healthy physiological fluids we are intended to transform into cellular energy. In moderation, it’s probably fine. To mitigate the “side effects” of morning sex we might recommend taking it as easy as possible, consuming eggs and animal protein, and staying hydrated. Another potentially ideal time could be between 5-7pm, which corresponds to the kidneys, whose qi is largely responsible for our sexual health. Any time in the evening offers the virtue of rest following the act.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe we are meant to have much jing left when we die—in fact its complete desertion is considered the cause of death when biomedicine cites: “natural causes.” I believe in “leaving it all,” as they say in sports, as jing is expended not only through sexual activity, but through all our worldly pursuits and great effort in life. However, signs of premature “jing deficiency” usually pertain to the brain and bones, or any manifestation of looking older than one’s age. Neurological diseases, osteoporosis, loss of hair or its color in our twenties might all point to jing vacuity. I hope this provided some interesting insight in a realm where almost no clinicians do.



Posted in Aging, Emotional/Psychological Disorders, Men's Health, Women's Health | Comments Off on How Much Sex is Healthy?

Total Solar Eclipse, 2024!



Astrology is a bit like politics, in that I try to feel out the room before bringing it up to risking being alienated as the kooky, New Agey “acupuncture guy,” who believes in everything unproven. In fact, I feel I owe it to my profession, a system of medicine that has been repeatedly proven, to keep my affinity for the subjective or ethereal realm on the hush, at least until I’ve established some degree of intellectual and/or emotional credibility in the space.

Although I’ve heard of a few practitioners that take into consideration (Chinese) astrology when diagnosing patients, my understanding is that the two paradigms have nothing to do with one another. The fact that they often attract similar people is more a byproduct of western society in recent generations. I doubt during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE) in ancient China the acupuncturists were more inclined to be wary of Geminis, attracted to Pisces, or signed up for an ayahuasca retreat.

With that said, I enjoy astrology. I enjoy the psychology of it, the character trends and tendencies, and over the years I’ve observed obvious proclivities in each sign to offer part of the explanation for why people are the way they are.

On the other hand, I’ve never gotten excited about astrological forecasts. “What’s to come” for me this month or even this year, I take with the same grain of salt I do the meteorological 7-day forecast. Maybe I should, but I don’t write out my desires or intentions at each month’s new moon, frankly because when I did in the past I was always just disappointed!

However, I am quite excited and intrigued about the upcoming solar eclipse this Monday, April 8th. Supposedly a total solar eclipse is a time of major new beginnings, potentially coinciding with major terminations in our lives that are largely outside of our control. If nothing else, for something this unique I’ll at least take some time to observe, do some prayer or meditation, and dust off the old astrology pad for a list of intentions .

But don’t listen to me ramble on about it. I wouldn’t necessarily label astrology even a hobby—it’s more an interest of mine—and definitely not my formal education. If you’re curious about next week’s eclipse, I highly recommend the long-time astrology guru of NYC, Susan Miller’s Astrology Zone, here:

Good luck with everyone’s new beginnings, and see you on the other side!

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Spring is “Shao Yang” Season!

As I made my way this Monday through my ten-block, 2 ½ avenue walk from Penn Station to the office, the 41-degree winds whipping into my face, masquerading as 30 degrees, that lovely sweatshirt-only, spring day of the previous weekend felt like ancient history, only to return like an overdue hug on Tuesday.

Even on these open-air, warm days, I’m cynically aware of what they ares. A tease, a mere foreshadowing of the still relatively distant future, a glimpse into a climate we may or may not experience each year, and for the next several weeks one that will rear its head only sporadically, thereby confusing our wardrobes and forcing us to check the weather app daily.

Spring corresponds with the wood element in Chinese medicine, which corresponds with the gallbladder meridian, or shao yang layer of health and disease.

At their root, “shao yang pathologies,” which can be anything from gastrointestinal to neurological, emotional, autoimmune, or otherwise, are said to be caused by “dry,” or weak guts. Vulnerability in metabolism leads to inflammation that flares upwards, commonly manifesting in symptoms such as chest tightness, throat dryness, eye dryness, most dryness, headaches, etc.

“Heat above, Cold below,” as we call it, which really just means the “cold” or weak microbiome has caused substances that should have descended as stool or urine to rise in the form of inflammation and harass upper portions of the body. One of the most signature symptoms of a shao yang pathology is the experience some have of alternating heat and cold sensations. So, while we can probably blame much of spring’s recently more chaotic, unpredictable nature on global warming, there is systemic logic to it. We might even acknowledge that in spite of our ongoing environmental crisis, spring is still the only season that consistently behaves so erratically. And erratic… is shao yang. Even the “shao yang pulse,” is signified by being ever-changing. One minute it feels wiry and rapid under the clinician’s finger—the next it’s like a slippery little ball. As my teacher would say: “This person is ‘shao yang’.”

How to temper our internal and external shao yang challenges? Simple and same as always really: Warm, easily digestible foods, and early bedtimes.

Soups and stews, congees, eggs, and steamed vegetables are light on the gut. They should generate healthy metabolic fluids and are less likely to create inflammation. This will address the “cold below.” As for the “heat above,” early bedtimes will modulate neurotransmitters and maximize the kind of organ recovery that can be attained only through a good night’s sleep (and/or Chinese herbs).

Err on wardrobe for the calendar more than the forecast, obviously within reason. Our bodies are still considered “cold” from the half year of cold, so all the youthful “heat pathologies” walking around outside in cut-off belly shirts cut low again on top will be more vulnerable to viruses.

Exercise should be consistent, but moderate. Regular enough to quell the heat above, but mindful to not sweat so much as to weaken the cold below. If you’re aiming to have the beach body ready for summer, the best way is by avoiding gluten, dairy, sugar, and raw foods, along with mild core workouts.

Finally, the wood element of spring is most supported by the sour flavor, so this is a good time of year to add foods like lemon and vinegar to your daily intake. Although they are uncooked, pickled foods, such as sauerkraut or kimchi are good to have alongside your warm meal, as they help to prevent the “shao yang stomach.”


Happy Shao Yang Season, everyone!

Posted in Allergies, Herbal Medicine, Hypertension, liver, Nutrition, Self-Care, Spring, Traditional Chinese Medicine | Comments Off on Spring is “Shao Yang” Season!

Acupuncture for Orthopedic Pain

Acupuncture for Orthopedic Pain

Orthopedic pain is a big deal for many Americans, and it comes in many different forms including knee, hip, shoulder, and other joint pain. Acupuncture has been proven an effective tool to deal with orthopedic pain…even Harvard Medical School thinks so.  continue reading »

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