Tools We Use: Herbal Formulas

Ever wondered how someone trained in herbs can help you? In this video we talk about herbal energetics, how practitioners type people and create a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) diagnosis, and two common examples of misused herbs.

Katherine MacKenzie


Gua Sha for Pain

Back in the spring, I demonstrated how to use gua sha to alleviate a cough or shortness of breath and to improve lung health. This tool also has the ability to alleviate muscle tightness!

In this video here, I have a patient who came in with ankle pain and lateral lower leg pain. The source turned out to be a trigger point in the Peroneal Longus muscle. Trigger point therapy can be very intense for some people, so gua sha is an excellent tool to use to loosen muscles up for those that are sensitive.

Gua sha smooths the fascia that encases the muscle allowing the muscle to expand and relax more easily and it pushes lactic acid out providing pain relief in the area. Gua sha also breaks up blood stagnation in that muscle promoting better blood flow to the area.

If you are highly sensitive to needles or trigger point therapy – that’s okay! Gua sha can be a great tool for you as it’s effective, but more comfortable.

❤️Alyx Soesman, Acupuncturist


Tools We Use at Nirvana: Cupping

Most people are familiar with cupping because they have seen circular marks on the bodies of athletes who are receiving cupping as therapy to help their bodies perform (and heal from) peak athletic performance. In Chinese Medical practice we typically use cupping to “clear stagnation”. And most often, this stagnation manifests as pain.

When qi and blood does not flow smoothly through the body, the result is pain. Cupping can help to break up and bring that stagnation to the surface, where it can more easily leave the body for good. The marks, or bruising, is a great sign of therapeutic release.

I also use cupping for lung issues. I have a patient with asthma, difficulty breathing, and a pattern that we call “Phlegm in the Lungs”. Cupping is a great assistant to acupuncture and herbs because it can pull that stagnation (this time in the form of stubborn phlegm), up from the depths of the inner body toward the surface where it can more easily be removed. After a few treatments I have had patients tell me that they can more easily breathe and that they feel less congestion in their chest/lungs; one patient was even able to begin running again, which they had to stop due to the pain it caused on their lungs.

Whatever reason you need cupping for, it is important to keep the area of your body that was cupped covered with clothing (for a few days post-treatment). Cupping opens up the body to allow stagnation to leave, but we don’t want elements such as cold to come in, as that can create new problems.

Joel Fasciani
PC: Thank you to nicolemantilla


Tools We Use at Nirvana: Infrared Heat Lamp

It’s getting colder as we continue to transform from Summer into Winter and the season of adding heat has arrived. As it’s started to become colder, Acupuncture Nirvana is now providing heated massage tables and infrared heat lamps have become more desirable.

As great as the infrared heat lamp feels in providing heat for our bodies, it actually provides more than that. It also attracts blood flow to the area the lamp is pointing at. Infrared heat lamps are also able to penetrate deeper than the superficial part of our bodies (the skin) which has a strong therapeutic effect. Infrared heat has the ability to regenerate cells, clear inflammation, and detoxify tissue and our blood. And the best part: it is entirely safe, natural, painless, and noninvasive.



You think, “I’ll just look at the news online for a quick second, that’s all.”  The first thing you see are dire warnings of the market about to crash, COVID19 numbers growing again, and yet another story about a disaster.  Your heart starts to race and palpate, and you take a few deep breaths to remain calm and stable and turn away from the news to focus on your day and dealing with what happens during it.  Sometimes that alone is a lot.

These days many of us are facing a constant “fight or flight” syndrome, where our sympathetic nervous systems are staying on more than they should be, causing our parasympathetic nervous system’s rest and digest abilities to be a little less capable.   They say the body keeps score of this tension and trauma, creating holding patterns in our muscles.  But we also know that when our sympathetic system is in fight or flight all the time and doesn’t get a chance to rest, less blood flow is sent to the organ systems – they have less of a chance to recover.   When we are stressed and anxious it can often impact sleep patterns, and sleep is another time our body can recover.

This is why boundaries are important during this time.  Acupuncture can help all of these side effects, relaxing muscles, calming down the sympathetic nervous system, calming the spirit, improving blood circulation and stimulating a healing response.  But if you do not have boundaries that are firm it will be hard to recover from so much bad news.  By boundaries I mean very consciously deciding what you take in and who you allow into your world and not giving attention to the rest.  Watching your reactions and responses as well, so that you have the stamina to offer compassion even when you are inundated by confrontational or difficult or anxious conversations.  Choose who and what you want to invest in and stay the course.  Maybe you are putting up your hand to more things, but this will mean that the people and things you value enough to give your attention to have more of that attention, because you are investing it carefully.  

Kat MacKenzie, MS, LAc