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3 Ways Acupuncture Solves Modern Medical Mysteries

Do you suffer from an illness that is mysterious in origin?
Do you have a condition that MDs have described as idiopathic (no known cause)?
Have you tried every tool of modern medicine (pharmaceuticals, surgery, rest) and still haven’t found relief?
When I was in my late 20’s, I suffered from debilitating migraine headaches and idiopathic tachycardia (fast heartbeat). I had monthly appointments with a neurologist who had me try at least a dozen different medications to decrease the frequency and severity of my headaches. The side effects were brutal: weight gain, memory loss, personality changes… the list could go on & on. As a last resort, a coworker suggested scheduling an appointment with an acupuncturist across the street from our office. The acupuncturist had helped her with chronic insomnia and she convinced me I had nothing to lose by giving it a try.

I will never forget my first appointment. For an entire hour, the acupuncturist asked me about my illness and actually listened to my answers. I had never had a doctor really listen to me before. After checking my tongue and pulse, she explained my diagnosis and explained how acupuncture could help. Three months later, I walked out of her clinic migraine-free. My neurologist was astounded when I told him I was no longer taking the daily cocktail of prescriptions and had not had a migraine in a month.

So how does acupuncture solve medical mysteries?
Acupuncture is based on an entirely different medical system based on over 2,000 years of clinical experience. Specifically:
Acupuncturists treat the body-mind-spirit as a whole. There is no division between the physical body and the mind, nor is there a division between the physical body and the spirit. Acupuncture is a form of holistic medicine that understands the whole person, not just a constellation of symptoms.
Acupuncture promotes self-healing through homeostasis in the nervous system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and immune system. Each acupuncture point stimulates these systems which allows the body to self-regulate and heal itself.
Through tongue and pulse diagnosis, acupuncturists can diagnose and identify the root cause of every illness or pain. Unlike modern medicine, there is no such thing as an idiopathic illness or a mysterious symptom. Everything is connected and explainable, much like a leaf on a tree is dependent on healthy roots in the ground.
These three aspects of acupuncture enable modern medical mysteries to be solved in a gentle, safe, and nourishing manner.

To schedule a consultation to solve your own medical mystery, contact Michelle.

Wanted: Emotional Wellness

​With the tragic loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade to suicide this week, I wanted to share my thoughts on emotional wellness and mental illness. It’s time to change the way we (as a society) view mental illness and shift our focus to achieving emotional wellness.
​According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.

What does this mean? As Americans, we are all touched by mental illness. It is prevalent in our families, our friends, and our communities.

Our conventional healthcare system simply does not know how to handle mental illness or promote emotional wellness.

Despite scientific advances in understanding brain chemistry, there is a shame-based social stigma attached to conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar syndrome. Some professions/societies go so far as to penalize those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. As a result, millions of Americans suffer in secret because they are reluctant/scared to seek help.

As we’ve witnessed this week, social status, wealth, achievements, age, race, religion, and outward appearances do not protect anyone from suffering in secret from a mental illness. It can literally affect anyone at any time. There are not always outward signs of an impending mental crisis. Everyone we meet is fighting some type of battle that we know nothing about.

As a holistic practitioner, I treat patients as a whole person, mind-body-spirit. This approach is particularly helpful to de-stigmatizing mental illness and promoting emotional wellness. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, exercise, nutrition, meditation, gua-sha and tui-na are all helpful tools to promote a health emotional balance.

If you know someone whom is suffering, please know that help is always available, often at no-cost or low-cost. Now here is the shift to a societal focus on emotional wellness… as their friend (and as a fellow human), realize that you (yes! YOU!) have a responsibility to step up and find help when they cannot ask for it themselves.

Here’s where you can find help for your friend/spouse//lover/ex-lover/brother/sister/cousin/mother/father/aunt/uncle/teacher/colleague:
Mental Health America
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat. If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727). Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
The Child-Help USA 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453) crisis line assists both child and adult survivors of abuse, including sexual abuse. The hotline, staffed by mental health professionals, also provides treatment referrals.
If you know someone who is suffering, open your heart to them with love and understanding. If you are suffering, be kind to yourself and confide in someone to get you the help you deserve.

3 Ways Spirit Helps You Heal

  • Do you have health issues that don’t respond well to medical treatments or pharmaceuticals?
  • Have you been prescribed multiple medications for a constellation of symptoms? For example, one medication for arthritic pain in your hands, another medication for asthma, and a medication to relieve chronic back pain?

In Oriental Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body-mind-spirit is treated as a whole. The hands and lungs and back are treated together. There is no division between the physical body and the mind, nor is there a division between the physical body and the spirit. You are treated as a whole person, which is what we call holistic medicine.

Acupuncture treatments affect and heal the mind-body-spirit in ways that conventional Western medicine cannot.  During an acupuncture treatment, needles are placed on precise body points that activate healing and open your connection to Spirit.  Many acupuncture points are named for this ability, such as Shen Men (Spirit Gate).  During or after a treatment session, you may feel euphoric as physical pain diminishes and your Qi flows freely through your meridians. This is a wonderful window of time to easily connect to Spirit and express your true desires.

To you, Spirit may be God, the Universe, All-That-Is or whatever you perceive to be the origin and manifestation of your Life Force.  By connecting to Spirit through prayer, reading sacred texts like the Bible, meditation, or manifestation, Spirit will always respond to each of your requests in one of three ways:

  1. Yes, it is yours.
  2. The timing isn’t right, so keep the faith and remain patient.
  3. No, there is something even better coming for you.

When it comes to healing your whole self, Spirit will always answer your requests with one of these answers. It may come to you in a dream or daydream, as a special song on the radio, or as a physical symbol that holds a special meaning to you, such as a rainbow or bird. The answer is always there, the key is to give yourself enough time and space to receive it.  It is often in this space that the toughest health challenges are suddenly resolved.

To schedule a consultation or appointment to heal your mind-body-spirit, contact Michelle here.

Holistic Healing: A Different Approach to Medicine

At Indigo Healing Acupuncture, we practice holistic Oriental medicine.

This means that we see living beings (human or animal) as a complete, interrelated entity composed of a mind (consciousness), physical body, and spirit (soul).  Holistic medicine allows healing to occur on physical and metaphysical levels.

So, what is holistic medicine in a nutshell? Holistic medicine…

  • Sees a whole person, not a body part
  • Focuses on wellness, not disease

How does holistic medicine differ from modern medicine?
Modern medicine aims to identify the condition (and affix a label such as “heartburn”) and alleviate symptoms with drugs, physical therapy, radiation, or surgery.

Holistic medicine identifies the root cause of the pain/illness and treats the mind, body and spirit to provide relief and a return to wellness.

How does this work in real life?
Let me give you a real-life example of a common complaint. Let’s say you have lower back pain, labeled by modern medicine as lumbar spinal stenosis.

Modern medicine will measure the pain, document the location, order radiological scans (x-ray or MRI), and prescribe pain killers, physical therapy, surgery, or rest. You’ll likely walk out of the 10-minute appointment with as much pain (maybe more if you had to wait two hours for your five minutes of face time with the MD) as when you walked in.

A holistic practitioner will see you as a whole person. We’ll ask specific questions about where you live, what you eat, your emotional well-being, your exercise schedule, and the quality of your sleep. Within the framework of Oriental Medicine, we’ll combine these answers with tongue & pulse diagnosis to identify the root problem of your pain and treat it with acupuncture, moxibustion, tui nagua sha, cupping, and/or Chinese herbs. With this holistic approach, the acupuncture needles may not be placed on your back at all and you could still leave the appointment with no lower back painAnd, as a bonus, you’ll likely be in a better mood & sleep better that night as well!

Does insurance cover holistic medicine?
Many large medical insurance plans now cover acupuncture treatments for pain relief. Most employer-sponsored Health Spending Account and Flexible Spending Account (HSA/FSA) plans also include acupuncture as a covered service. Check your benefits summary for coverage details.

Are you ready to be seen as a whole person and give holistic medicine a try?

Case Study: An Integrative Approach to Chronic Insomnia

This case study of insomnia is a real-life example of how Chinese Medicine is combined with modern Western medicine to create the best outcome for our patients.  This approach is called integrative medicine because it combines traditional holistic medicine with the science of Western allopathic medicine.

Insomnia is generally defined as an inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or a combination of both. Chronic insomnia is difficulty sleeping for a month or longer. Insomnia afflicts up to 15% of the world’s population. Insomnia occurs when the biological drivers of sleep, circadian rhythms and homeostasis, are disrupted by emotional upset and chronic stress.

This letter is an example of how we coordinate care with a patient’s primary doctor:

Dear Primary Care Physician,
I have a patient suffering from chronic insomnia and would like your assistance with this case.

Case Summary:
The patient is a 32-year-old male with a chief complaint of restless sleep.  The history of present illness is insomnia difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep during the last six weeks. Sleep improves with daily exercise, is exacerbated by stress, crying baby, too much computer screen time. No night sweats, but sense of heat. Patient goes to bed at 11pm and is restless until 1-2am. He wakes 1x to urinate, usually between 4-5am. Vital signs are pulse 64 bpm, BP 118/68, 13 breaths per minute, body temp: 98.8 degrees F.

Based on the patient’s symptoms and tongue and pulse presentation, the TCM diagnosis is Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency insomnia.

Evidence-Based Approach:
In a review study conducted by O’Brien & Weber (2016), acupuncture was found to regulate “various neurotransmitters and hormones, such as endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotrophic hormone, cortisol, acetylcholine, melatonin, substance P, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and nitric oxide, known to be involved in sleep regulation. Acupuncture can also regulate higher cortical function, the HPA axis, and somato-visceral reflexes.”

The patient has agreed to receive a 60-minute Chinese Medicine treatment two times a week for four weeks. Reassessment will occur at the sixth appointment. Progress is tracked with the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) questionnaire. The patient completed the initial MYMOP prior to the first acupuncture treatment and will fill out a follow-up MYMOP questionnaire prior to the first appointment every week. An initial acupuncture point protocol was:

  • N-HN-54 an mian (peaceful sleep)
  • Bilateral KD-6 zhao hai (shining sea)
  • Bilateral HT-7 shen men (spirit gate)
  • Bilateral SP-6 san yin jiao (3 yin intersection)

Acupuncture needles were retained for 25 minutes while the patient was lying supine in a quiet, darkened room.

The patient received the traditional Chinese herbal formula Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (Ginseng and Zizyphus formula) with instructions to drink three cups per day in-between meals for four weeks.

​The patient is advised to avoid caffeine and alcohol, exercise in the morning (so as to not interfere with sleep in the evening), avoid spicy and greasy foods, drink water throughout the day and cease consumption by 8pm at night, and discontinue use of all electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.

Expected Outcomes/Prognosis:
Prior to his first acupuncture treatment, the patient identified insomnia with a MYMOP score of “6 – as bad as it can be”.  At his third appointment, he reported better sleep and a lower MYMOP score of “3”.  I expect him to obtain more high-quality sleep within the next two weeks of treatment and report another reduced MYMOP score.

Please order a CBC differential lab test and Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) for this patient and contact me with the results.

​I appreciate your willingness to share in the care of this patient.

Michelle Wendt, L.Ac. DACM, Dipl. OM

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.


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.

Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture for Anxiety

  • Do you think you may suffer from anxiety, but don’t want to admit it?
  • Are you looking for a natural approach to managing anxiety?

You’re not alone… anxiety is incredibly common with over 40 million adults currently affected in the US. ​In the timeframe between puberty and middle-age, women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men.

You may have anxiety if:

  • You’re afraid something awful might happen
  • You’re feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
  • You’re worrying too much
  • You’re not able to calm down, relax, or sleep
  • You’re unable to sit still
  • You’re easily annoyed or irritable

If you think you might have anxiety, consider visiting a licensed acupuncturist. We have lots of tools that can help ease anxiety symptoms naturally, without the unpleasant side effects of commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepines.

Chinese Medicine approaches anxiety by identifying the root cause and treating you holistically as a mind-body-soul.  

Scientists have researched the effects of acupuncture on anxiety and several studies have shown a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms in as little as one month of treatment. In some cases, research proved that acupuncture is just as effective as conventional treatments with pharmaceuticals or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Acupuncture treatments twice a week are relaxing and allow your mind-body-spirit to regain balance and heal. Patients generally sleep better, worry less, and feel more in touch with their emotions after receiving regular acupuncture treatments. If you’re feeling anxious about needles, laser acupuncture is a great alternative!

Chinese herbal medicine can also help ease anxiety symptoms in a gentle manner and can be taken as capsules, tablets, tinctures, or as a decoction (such as Enlighten Herbal Elixir).

If you’re interested in learning more about how Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can help with anxiety, contact Michelle for an appointment.  It’s truly never too soon to feel better!


A few research studies on acupuncture and anxiety from

Goyatá SLT, Avelino CCV, Santos SVM, Souza Jr DI, Gurgel MDSL, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm [Internet]. 2016;69(3):564-71. DOI:

Isoyama, Daniela, et al. “Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study.” Acupuncture in Medicine, vol. 30, no. 2, 2012, pp. 85-88.

Sniezek, David P., and Imran J. Siddiqui. “Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review.” Medical Acupuncture, vol. 25, no. 3, 2013, pp. 164-172.