How to Clear Brain Fog

  • Is it easy for you to wake up in the morning (no snooze buttons)?
  • Do you wake up feeling refreshed & alert?
  • Do you rely on coffee/tea to mentally wake up?
  • Have you had problems remembering names or where you left your phone or keys?
  • Do you walk into a room and forget why you’re there or what you’re looking for?
  • Do you have problems concentrating on a specific task for more than a few minutes?

What is brain fog?

Brain fog is an inability think clearly. You may feel spacey, have problems focusing on a specific task or feel mentally scattered with your thoughts jumping all over the place.  Brain fog can also cause forgetfulness, such as remembering someone’s name, what you ate for lunch yesterday, or where you left your keys.

How can Oriental Medicine help clear brain fog?

1. Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs improve sleep quality…
​​A lack of sleep at night opens the door wide-open to an invasion of brain fog. After a poor night of sleep, morning brain fog is almost a given. Acupuncture is proven clinically effective at treating insomnia, whether it’s an inability to fall asleep or difficulty staying asleep or restless sleep.  There are specific Chinese Herbal formulas for treating the root cause of insomnia too.

2. Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs relax the sympathetic nervous system…

The sympathetic nervous system controls the fight-or-flight response triggered by stress or trauma. It opens the airways, increases heart rate, and pushes oxygenated blood to the muscles. Think of it as the switch that tells the body to wake up. Acupuncture flips the off-switch in the sympathetic nervous system and allows the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. The parasympathetic nervous symptom controls rest and digestion. By shifting the body’s energy to slow down and focus on recovery, the mind calms down enabling more concentration & focus.

There are dozens of acupuncture points that calm the body-mind-spirit all the way from the head to the toes. There is a special constellation of four points on the head called si shen cong that translates to four spirit wisdom. The points are so effective at boosting memory & cognition that candidates taking national board exams are no longer allowed to enter testing centers with needles in si shen cong because it provides an unfair mental advantage!

3. Eat foods that increase cognition…

One of the best foods to increase brain power are walnuts. When you look at a walnut, it actually looks like two halves of a brain!  Adding walnuts to meals throughout the day can keep your brain nourished & focused. Add them to your breakfast on top of oatmeal, enjoy them as a side dish or snack, replace croutons with walnuts in your lunch salad, and incorporate them into dinner in a dish like honey-walnut shrimp stir fry (replace the toxic vegetable or canola oil with healthy coconut oil, please!).

Beans (black, navy & kidney beans) also bust brain fog! Try making a hearty bean soup with equal amounts of these three beans and season with a pinch of turmeric, dried thyme and fresh rosemary.

If you need a brain boost to-go, create a trail mix by combining walnuts, pine nuts, goji berries, pumpkin seeds & dried unsweetened blueberries. Yum!

If you’re lucky enough to have your local farm or market carry fresh quail eggs, eat 2-3 hardboiled quail eggs a day to improve memory and concentration.

4. Try natural alternatives to medications that cause brain fog… 

Many modern drugs (over-the-counter and prescription) can cause brain fog, drowsiness & metal confusion.

Chinese herbs offer a safe and effective alternative to many modern medications. When prescribed by a trained herbalist, there are usually no unwanted side-effects. There are over 100 ancient Chinese herbal formulas, each containing anywhere from 2 to 20 individual herbs that work synergistically together. Taking the right combination of Chinese herbs can dissipate daily brain fog in a natural way and reduce dependence on caffeine.

Contact Michelle for help clearing out your brain fog! 

A Modern Twist on Traditional Chinese Fire Cupping

Now introducing love cups at Indigo Healing Acupuncture!

Traditional Chinese Fire Cupping is a relaxing treatment to remove stagnation and improve the flow of Qi and blood.  Glass or ceramic cups are heated with fire to create a vacuum and applied to the skin to create suction.

Fire Cupping is pain-free and typically leaves painless circular marks that gradually disappear within 3-5 days as healing occurs.

I tell patients it feels like a reverse massage… instead of muscle compression via pressure, the cups pull up the skin which allows fascia and muscle fibers to lift & stretch.

Fire Cupping also supports the function of the lymphatic system by improving the flow of infection-fighting lymph fluid which helps rid the body of toxins and metabolic waste.

After a treatment with Traditional Chinese fire cupping, it’s important to drink water and non-caffeinated beverages so  the lymphatic system can work its magic.


herbal remedies

An herbal remedy to ease sugar cravings, crush anxious thoughts, and soften tobacco & alcohol addictions

​Do you have a sweet tooth?
​Are after-dinner desserts sabotaging your waistline?
Do you want to stop smoking or drinking?
Are you seeking quick relief from anxious thoughts?

​Herbal medicine has a solution!

Sweet Change is a mouth spray that stops sugar cravings.  3-6 sprays three times a day is all it takes.
It also calms the mind from anxious thoughts, which can help quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.

What more could you ask for?

Oh yeah, it’s compliant with keto, paleo, and whole 30 plans.

This magic potion contains these herbs:

Gymnema sylvestre (known as The Sugar Destroyer) has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

  • Helps abolish the taste of sugar
  • Helps manage sugar cravings and addictions
  • Helps manage intestinal absorption of glucose
  • Helps support healthy blood sugar & glucose metabolism
  • Helps maintain healthy weight

Ku Gua 

  • Helps reduce the amount of glucose released into the blood

Zhi Ju Zi 

  • Helps eliminate withdrawal symptoms
  • Natural liver detoxifier

Pei Lan 

  • Supports digestion

Shi Chang Pu 

  • Calms mind
  • Clears brain fog

Contact Michelle to order Sweet Change.

The Biggest Myth

What is a myth?
“A myth is a widely held but false belief or idea.”

What is balance?
“An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, I often talk about balance & harmony. I use acupuncture, fire cupping, moxibustion, and herbs as tools to cultivate optimal qi (life force) in the mind-body-spirit.  But is total balance & harmony realistic in this crazy thing we call life?  Or are we all chasing a myth? A perfect story with a perfect ending?

This tweet from Randi Zukerberg got me thinking:


In just one tweet, she asked an incredibly challenging question…

If there are 5 keys to a balanced life:

  1. Friends
  2. Work
  3. Family
  4. Fitness
  5. Sleep

How many can you do well? One? Three? Five(!)?

I’ll give an honest answer: At this point in my life, I can only do 2 (work & family). There is simply not enough qi or time in my day(s) to excel in the other areas. Yes, some days I hit the jackpot and can add sleep to make it 3, but nights with more than 7 hours of sleep are truly rare.

So, why are we all chasing this myth of having a perfect symphony of days spent cultivating friendships, building empires at work, spending quality time with family, exercising & eating well, and sleeping like a log every night? 

​More importantly, what is missing from this list in your life? Spirituality? Simple downtime?

Chinese Medicine is awesome at cultivating qi, but the truth is no one is in perfect balance & harmony, all of the time. It’s a myth, a fabricated story. They key is to pick what is right for you at this time in your life and the rest will follow in its own time.

Implementing an hour of Chinese Medicine into your week can help cultivate qi in your life so that you can remain upright and steady, like a tree firmly rooted and swaying in the gale-force winds of change & challenge.  So, pick your two or three and own the knowledge that it’s enough for you in this moment.

Fertility on a Weekly Budget: 3 Steps to Stop Wasting Money

Truth: Trying to Conceive (TTC) gets more expensive over time.

It’s undeniably tempting to self-educate & research the latest ways to get pregnant.  Unfortunately, it often leads to wasting money on supplements, herbs, fertility teas, and technology that don’t deliver a big fat positive (BFP). 

Wasting money & hope can make the whole process of TTC  even more overwhelming and  frustrating.

So, here is my advice if you have been trying to get pregnant and don’t know what to try/buy next.

Ask for help from a professional fertility expert.
It is a small investment that will save you time, money, and tears.

Here is my 3 step plan to getting pregnant on a budget:

1.  Commit to the journey:  There is no quick fix to establishing a fertile environment and it’s easy to forget there are two sides to fertility story:

  • It takes a minimum of 3 months (90 days) for a female to develop & produce an egg (oocyte).
  • It takes a minimum of 2.5 months (76 days) for a male to produce a sperm cell.

2.  Commit to a plan: If you thought committing to at least a 3 month journey sounded challenging,        this step is even more daunting, but much better for your wallet. Committing to a plan requires saying a firm “no” to that herb/tea/supplement you just read about on a fertility forum. Stop throwing money away by buying every supplement you hear about. Those $20 teas and bottles of herbs purchased by impulse shopping can add up fast!

3.  Commit to a budget:  Before you start shopping, commit to a budget that works for you.  You can always revamp it if your financial situation changes.  The most important thing is to stick to your budget, because the added stress of finances can push you over the edge when you’re TTC.

Here are some examples of how far your budget goes on a professionally designed fertility plan:


Please leave comments or reach out to Michelle if you need help designing a natural fertility plan that works for you & your wallet. Specific products used in this estimate are listed after the “Read More” jump.

Sending prosperity and baby dust your way! 
​For simplicity, all products priced on Amazon, links embedded here.

Turning Inwards to Nourish the Yin and Start Anew

In Chinese Medicine, winter is yin within yin.
A time to seek solitude.
A time to foster the natural tendency to turn inwards.

Since December I’ve been looking inwards, taking inventory, and finding out what really matters to me. This January, I’m ready to start with a clean slate.

For me, it’s time to let go of:

  • Stale or toxic relationships: I highly recommend the book Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping
  • Possessions: I’m generally a neat, organized person, so for me this meant cleaning out the closets, family junk drawers, and kitchen pantry
  • Habits: I didn’t think I was a coffee addict, but the truth came out when I stopped drinking it (see below)
  • Stagnant Energy: Last year, I didn’t allow myself time to ponder life & create. This year I’m committed to daily creating, with a new dreambook/planner from The Dragontree Apothecary that I work on first thing in the morning after consulting the I Ching.

​My clean slate phase kicked off in January with a 10-Day metabolic cleanse. It’s a product that many of my acupuncturist colleagues promote and is recommend 2-3 times a year.  Unfortunately, I haven’t done a cleanse in over 5 years, so I’ve had a lot to clear out.  Day 2 was brutal with nausea, vomiting, an intensely throbbing headache and bedtime at 7pm.  Day 3 started off much better and today (Day 4) I’m committed to working through the aches & pains of the next 6 days. Truth be told, I’m actually starting to enjoy the freedom that comes from not craving another cup of coffee and wondering what I’ll eat for lunch/dinner.  At the same time, I can’t wait until day 11 because my 1 cup of coffee per day will taste so good!

After the cleanse, I’ll be returning to my 99% Paleo lifestyle and favorite foods that nourish the yin: quinoa, chlorella & spirulina, black beans, organic eggs, and organic fruits like red grapes, raspberry & bananas.

What mindstate are you in this January?  Are you taking time this winter to turn inwards and nourish your yin?

3 Things to Know About Vitamins & Supplements

  • Did you take a vitamin or supplement today? 
  • Where did it come from?
  • Are you sure you know what was in it?

It can be tempting to use the internet (eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.) to save a few bucks on vitamins & supplements. The capsules & pills look the same so they must be the same, right? Absolutely not!

There are 3 things to know before you pop pills purchased on the internet:

  1. They may be fake: not contain any of the advertised ingredient
  2. They may be expired: old products repackaged as new
  3. They may be contaminated: unsafe handling leading to contamination or blatant tampering with ingredients

2013 research study used DNA analysis to identify the ingredients of 44 herbal supplements and 1 out of 3 of the supplements did not contain the advertised main ingredient! The supplements tested were brands available for purchase in supermarkets, health food stores, and pharmacies in Canada and the US.

2015 investigation by the Attorney General of New York found 4 out of 5 supplements purchased off the shelf from big box stores did not contain the advertised ingredient and even worse contained substances like sawdust, powdered vegetables, wheat, rice, and even powdered houseplants!

I urge all of my patients, family and friends to purchase vitamins and supplements from trusted sources. My definition of a trusted source is a seller that you can contact easily and will accept returns of a questionable product (i.e. safety seal broken, unusual odor/color/taste, unusual reaction to taking the supplement).  Licensed healthcare practitioners often carry high-quality brands that are not available for public sale… these are the brands I trust for my own family.

Know this: High-quality vitamins & supplements always cost more because they contain high-quality, verifiable real ingredients without cheap fillers.

You may think popping vitamins & supplements everyday will improve your health, but if they are counterfeit, fake, mislabeled, expired, or contaminated they are most likely causing harm to you now and damaging your long-term health.

Chinese Medicine for Diaper Rash

Earlier this week, my toddler came home from preschool with a terrible, angry diaper rash that made her waddle like she had just climbed off a horse. Her skin was bright red & swollen from her groin to her upper inner thighs.

After comforting her, my Acupuncturist brain took over to start treatment:

Step 1: Bath
Lukewarm bath with baking soda and oatmeal – I added 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of oatmeal to a filled bathtub. The alkaline nature of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) neutralized any remaining acidic residue and helped rebalance the pH of her skin. The natural phenols in oatmeal worked their anti-inflammatory magic to soothe her irritated skin. After her bath, the diaper rash was about 10% better.

Step 2: Salve
I gently patted her dry and applied a generous layer of Emily Hot Skin Soother* over the rash. This salve is all natural & cruelty free. It has an organic sunflower & beeswax base and several therapeutic Chinese herbs. Within minutes of applying, redness and pain had decreased by 70%.  
*Tip: Only purchase Emily Hot Skin Soother from a trusted source, like your healthcare provider. The jars are not sealed to prevent contamination from unscrupulous beings.

Step 3: Laser Acupuncture
I used a red Qi Pulse laser to activate specific acupuncture points along her Liver meridian and Large Intestine meridian to clear out the heat in her groin. I used the blue Qi Calm laser directly on the remaining red, rashy areas. The laser acupuncture visibly reduced the swelling and redness. The rash was about 90% gone at this point.

Step 4: Chinese Herbs
At bedtime I gave her a dose of Kan Gentle Warriors Fire Fighter, which is a Chinese herbal tincture formulated to treat heat conditions in the skin (such as rashes, eczema, psoriasis). This brand is only available from licensed health care practitioners and is a great addition to your at-home herbal apothecary. 

By the next morning, the diaper rash was 99% gone with only one very light pink area on her inner thigh.
​It’s now 2 days later and the rash has not returned. 

Want to learn more about how Chinese Medicine treats pediatric conditions? Contact Michelle!

3 Foods You Won’t Find in My Kitchen

​Thanksgiving is less than a week away and my kitchen will soon be a hot spot for baking & cooking.

Every year without fail, someone in my family will ask me where I keep the granulated sugar. When I tell them we don’t have any, a look of alarm will appear on their face:

“Whaaat?! How in the world can we make these cookies/muffins/pie/cinnamon rolls/biscuits without sugar?”

Before I answer, let’s back up for a minute.

As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I’ve had years of masters-level education on dietary nutrition. In my clinic, I educate patients on how what they eat affects their body, both good and bad. Have you heard the Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? It’s 100% true and the fundamental basis for why you won’t find these 3 foods in my kitchen:

  1. Granulated Sugar or Brown Sugar
  2. Vegetable oil (canola/rapeseed, corn, soy, vegetable, peanut, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, vegetable shortening, and margarine)
  3. Conventional corn products

I would bet you’d find these three foods in at least 95% of America’s kitchens. Without diving too deep into biochemistry or nutritional theory, here’s the down & dirty on each one:

  • Sugar: Sugar literally feeds disease & chronic illness in the human body.  Read this blog to understand the tip of the sugar iceberg:
  • Vegetable Oil: Most vegetable oils are genetically-modified, rancid, over-processed (aka hydrogenated) and nearly impossible for the body to process.
  • Conventional Corn: 88% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified (aka not actually corn anymore). A herbicide commonly used on GMO corn called glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) was linked to Celiac disease in a 2013 published research study. Read the study here.

So what WILL you find in my kitchen to replace these common foods?

  • Instead of sugar replacements, I use local raw honey, coconut crystals, or organic grade A maple syrup
  • Instead of vegetable oil, I use organic cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil, grass-fed organic butter and grass-fed organic ghee
  • Corn: I use organic corn sparingly because there is a risk of cross-contamination from GMO crops.

I hope you take the opportunity to banish sugar, vegetable oil, and GMO corn from your kitchen this holiday season! It certainly leads to some interesting conversations!

What you Need to Know About CBD Oil

Chinese Medicine has known the health benefits of cannabis seeds (Chinese herb huŏ má rén) for over 2,000 years.  Now, modern medicine is catching up and learning about the health benefits of cannabidol (CBD). There is a tidal wave of CBD oil products hitting the market… here’s a quick overview of what they are and how they work.

What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the human body that is regulated by the endocannaboid system in the nervous system (central & peripheral).  CBD can also be harvested from the Cannabis plant.

How does the body produce CBD?
Omega-3 fatty acids* are converted to CBD in the central nervous system. There are two types of cannaboid receptors (for the science folks: CB1 and CB2) distributed throughout the body.

*Wait, what are Omega-3 fatty acids?
This could be a whole blog post, but here’s a quick explanation of Omega-3 fatty acids. There are three types:

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): Found in chlorella, fish oil, anchovies, wild-caught salmon, wild-caught herring, wild-caught mackerel, wild-caught tuna, wild-caught halibut, organic chicken liver or organic grass-fed beef liver.
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid): Found in wild-caught fish
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid): Found in organic flaxseed oil, organic hemp oil

What does CBD do?
The CBD produced in the endocannaboid system helps maintains homeostasis (biological balance) throughout the body. If your body does not produce enough CBD, you may experience chronic aches and pain, headaches, migraines, insomnia, poor appetite, digestive problems (heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel), reduced immunity to bacteria and viruses, allergies, fertility issues, and/or memory problems. As you can see from this list, the endocannaboid system works hard to keep us feeling good!

What are plant based sources of CBD?
CBD is harvested from Cannabis (Cannabis sativa). CBD is the 2nd most abundant compound in the plant (the most abundant compound is tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC).

What can CBD oil products do?
Cannaboids derived from the plant Cannabis sativa have many therapeutic uses. Research studies show CBD reduces anxiety (including social anxiety disorder), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), epilepsy, and pain. There are links to research studies at the bottom of this post for reference.

Can CBD oil make me feel high?
No, but it does have a calming effect.
Is CBD oil legal? 
Yes, hemp-derived CBD oil is legal to purchase and use in the US.

Who should not use CBD?
If you look at the latest research on about “cannabidiol and pregnancy” or “cannabidiol and breast” you’ll see that CBD crosses the placenta and changes the morphology and physiology of cells in a developing fetus. Animal testing has demonstrated CBD is excreted in high concentrations in breast milk. The many benefits of CBD do not outweigh the risk it poses to fetal or infant development; therefore, we do not recommend it to pregnant or breastfeeding patients. There are much safer herbal alternatives available.

Book an appointment to find out if CBD is right for you!


Research on CBD…​

  • Esposito, G., Filippis, D. D., Cirillo, C., Iuvone, T., Capoccia, E., Scuderi, C., … Steardo, L. (2012). Cannabidiol in inflammatory bowel diseases: A brief overview. Phytotherapy Research27(5), 633-636. doi:10.1002/ptr.4781
  • Feinshtein, V., Erez, O., Ben-Zvi, Z., Erez, N., Eshkoli, T., Sheizaf, B., … Holcberg, G. (2013). Cannabidiol changes P-gp and BCRP expression in trophoblast cell lines. PeerJ1, e153. doi:10.7717/peerj.153
  • Russo, E. B. (2016). Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency reconsidered: Current research supports the theory in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, and other treatment-resistant syndromes. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research1(1), 154-165. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0009
  • Schier, A. R., Ribeiro, N. P., E Silva, A. C., Hallak, J. E., Crippa, J. A., Nardi, A. E., & Zuardi, A. W. (2012). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria34, S104-S117. doi:10.1016/s1516-4446(12)70057-0
  • Wang, G. S. (2016). Pediatric concerns due to expanded Cannabis use: Unintended consequences of legalization. Journal of Medical Toxicology13(1), 99-105. doi:10.1007/s13181-016-0552-x
  • Yoo, S. D., Fincher, T. K., & Holladay, J. W. (1994). Mammary excretion of cannabidiol in rabbits after intravenous administration. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology46(11), 926-928. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1994.tb05717.x

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