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Introduction to Sound Healing

Recently, one of our patients brought up the topic of sound healing. I was intrigued. Back when I was in acupuncture school, there were some students and instructors who were using “acutonics,” which involved placing tuning forks on various acupuncture points. At the time, I was too involved in my studies to investigate further, but I had always been curious. I decided to look into this area and share what I have found so far.

Sound healing is a type of holistic therapy that uses sound frequencies to promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote overall well-being.  This practice is based on the idea that sound waves can affect our physical and emotional states. The sounds used in this type of therapy can range from chanting, singing bowls, drums, tuning forks, and more. It’s been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to promote relaxation and balance.

Sound vibrations can affect our bodies in a variety of ways, both physically and emotionally. Here are a few examples:


Physical effects

  • Vibrations from sound waves can cause our bodies to resonate, which can have a calming or invigorating effect, depending on the frequency.
  • Low-frequency sounds can cause our bodies to vibrate, which can have a soothing effect and may even help reduce pain.
  • High-frequency sounds can be stimulating and may increase alertness and energy levels.

Emotional effects

  • Certain sounds and frequencies can trigger emotional responses, such as nostalgia, happiness, or even fear.
  • Music therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and certain frequencies may be particularly beneficial for emotional well-being.
  • Binaural beats, which are auditory illusions created by playing slightly different frequencies in each ear, have been used to induce different mental states, such as relaxation or focus.

Overall, sound vibrations can have a powerful impact on our bodies, both physically and emotionally, and can be used as a tool for healing and well-being.

What is a Frequency?

A frequency, in the context of sound, refers to the rate at which a sound wave vibrates per second.

Frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz), which is the number of vibrations per second. For example, a sound wave with a frequency of 440 Hz vibrates at a rate of 440 times per second, which is the standard tuning for most modern music.

All sounds have a specific frequency that determines their pitch, and some frequencies are believed to have different effects on our physical and emotional states. For example, high frequencies can be stimulating, while low frequencies can be soothing.

In sound healing, one of the important frequencies is 432 HZ. The theory behind 432 Hz is that it aligns with the vibrations of nature and the universe, and is therefore more harmonious than the standard tuning of 440 Hz. Some people believe that listening to music tuned to 432 Hz can have positive effects on health and well-being, such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and even stimulating DNA repair.

The music we are used to revolves around the frequency of 440 Hz. Hertz being the “pitch” of the note. Almost every single song you can think of is tuned this way using a 12 step scale. Many musicians are trained by “ear” to know these 12 steps very well. Tuning to different frequencies, that shifts the 12 steps ever so slightly in pitch. In recent years, tuning A4 to 432 Hz has become more popular in sound healing communities.

Music can be changed from 440 Hz to 432 Hz by imperceptibly slowing down (by 32 hundredths of a tone) the song, using music editing software.  While there are many claims to the effectiveness of sound healing, research is only just beginning to accumulate. Interestingly, one paper finds 432 Hz has mild but noticeable effects on heart rate and blood pressure.  I will continue to investigate this promising area and share what I have learned.  In the meantime, if you wish to experience 432 hz music, there are many songs which can be viewed in different videos on YouTube.

Case Study – Piriformis Syndrome

“Sciatica” is one of the conditions people seek acupuncture treatment for most frequently. As you will say in the case below, most of the time it is not actually sciatica which people are experiencing.  I have prepared the following case study for you in order to give you an idea of how we evaluate and treat such pain with acupuncture. I hope the insight it gives you provides you with the confidence to seek treatment if you are suffering from this type of pain.

Case Study – Sciatica or PIrifomis Syndrome?

A 28 year old male came to the office on a Saturday with pain in the left posterior hip. The pain had begun several days earlier while working (physical labor). He had a strong ache in posterior hip with a radiating sensation down the leg. Additionally, the sensation made him feel anxious and uneasy, causing difficulty sleeping. Ibuprofen helped it only slightly. He had diagnosed himself with sciatica. 

What Is the Sciatic Nerve? 

The sciatic nerve is composed of nerve roots from the L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3 vertebrae. They merge to form a single, large nerve which exits under a bony arch called the sciatic notch. The sciatic nerve runs through the pelvis, travelling under the piriformis muscle before heading down the back of the leg.

It separates into two branches at the back of the knee to form the tibial and peroneal nerves, which supply the lower leg and foot. The sural nerves branch off from the tibial and peroneal nerves, terminating in the foot.

The sciatic nerve provides motor input for bending the knee, bringing the thighs together (adduction), and flexing and extending the ankles and toes. It conveys sensation from the back of the thigh, the entire lower leg, the ankle, and the sole of the foot.

Sciatica Vs. Pseudo-Sciatica

Many people experience the symptoms described above and identify it as sciatica. In reality, most of the time they are experiencing “psuedo-sciatica.”  What is the difference?

True sciatica is a set of symptoms caused by irritation or compression on one or more spinal nerve roots in your lower spine, not the sciatic nerve itself. This could be due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis,. The nerve roots which merge together to form the sciatic nerve are under pressure. This is a form of radiculopathy. (Radix is a Latin term meaning root, and pathos is a Greek term for disease).

In reality, what most people are experiencing is a form of muscular tightness, called piriformis syndrome. In this case, the sciatic nerve is directly irritated or compressed by your piriformis muscle, deep in your hip. The symptoms of piriformis syndrome may affect the buttock and hip, as well as traveling down into the thigh and leg.

What is the Piriformis?

The piriformis muscle originates at the sacrum (the flat bone beneath your spine in the center of the pelvis) and attaches to a bony knob (the greater trochanter) on the femur (thigh bone) on the outermost part of the hip.

The function of the piriformis is to externally rotate and abduct the hip.  This means turning your hip outward and bringing your thigh outward to one side while your hip is bent. This happens when raising your knee and bringing your leg out when getting out of a car (which can be one of the painful movements when it is inflamed). It is also involved in walking, running and standing.

Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

Ordinarily, the sciatic nerve is directly underneath the piriformis. Occasionally, people have an atypical anatomical variation.  Sometimes, the sciatic nerve passes directly through the piriformis, which can lead to piriformis syndrome.  More commonly, there is inflammation of soft tissues, muscle spasm or both, causing nerve compression. 

This can happen with direct trauma such as a car accident or a fall. However, it is most likely the gradual tightening of the piriformis muscle is due to poor posture and overuse.  Activities, such as long distance running or prolonged standing without proper stretching and strengthening of piriformis muscle will contribute to piriformis syndrome. However, in my experience, people who sit for a long period of time with poor posture, especially drivers, seem to suffer from this the most.

Symptoms of PIriformis Syndrome

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome can be variable. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the opposite sacroiliac joint
  • Pain with sitting standing or walking for more than 20 minutes
  • Intense pain while sitting
  • Sensation of pins and needles, numbness, burning, tingling, or itching down the back of the thigh, usually stopping above the knee
  • Pain improves with movement
  • Pain when moving from sitting to standing
  • Foot numbness

Differentiation: Sciatica VS. Pseudo Sciatica

One way to tell is to consider WHERE the pain is felt:

  • In piriformis syndrome, buttock and hip pain is typically more common than lower back pain.
  • In sciatica, the leg pain is usually greater than lower back pain and the pain may extend below the knee. The affected leg may also feel heavy.

Another way to tell, is the effect of MOVEMENT

  • In piriformis syndrome, the pain typically increases while sitting for long periods of time and/or during hip movements.
  • In sciatica, raising the affected leg while lying down (while keeping the other leg straight) may induce pain.


The primary physical test for sciatic like symptoms is the Straight Leg Raising (SLR). The straight leg raise places stretch on the sciatic nerve as it passes through and around the structures of the pelvis and traverses down the posterior aspect of the thigh. The straight leg raise test is performed with the patient on their back. The examiner gently raises the patient’s straight leg, and the test is considered positive when the patient experiences pain along the lower limb.  In this case, the test was negative (which is good). 

The patient was walking with an antalgic gait.  Muscle testing revealed weakness at the gluteus medius (resisted hip abduction) and the tensor fascia latae.  Palpation revealed extremely tender points at the piriformis and gluteus medius.


The purpose of the physical exam is to identify areas of muscle tension and weakness.  Acupuncture points are selected based on their neuroanatomical relevance. The majority of points chosen are motor points. Motor points when stimulated, especially with electrical acupuncture, can normalize the tension in a given muscle. This, in turn, reduces pressure on the underlying nerves and gives pain relief.

Acupuncture was given in the first session to the following points. The points are given with their acupuncture nomenclature, as well as the important anatomy they reference. 

GB-29 : Motor Point of Tensor Fascia Latae

GB-30: Motor Point of Piriformis.

UB-53: Superior Gluteal Nerve: innervates Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus and Tensor Fascia Lata.  

UB-54: Inferior Gluteal Nerve: innervates Gluteus Maximus.

UB-37: Descending Branch of Posterior Femoral Cutaneous Nerve/Biceps Femoris Motor Point

UB 57: Lateral Head of Gastrocnemius Motor Point

The superior gluteal nerve was connected to the lateral gastrocnemius motor point for 10 minutes of electrical stimulation. Then gua sha was performed to the posterior hip and thigh. Upon standing, the patient felt better but still had some pain in the anterior aspect of the thigh. So treatment was performed to the following points:

ST-31 : Upper Rectus Femoris Motor Point

ST 32 : Lower Rectus Femoris Motor Point

These points were connected with .5 hz electrical stimulation for 10 minutes.

After the treatment, the patient had complete relief. The relief lasted for several hours, upon which the pain came back, but not as severe.  The patient required ibuprofen later that night, but by the next day the pain had abated substantially. Upon return to work on Monday, the patient was able to work with some restriction.  On Tuesday, we had a follow up visit. The pain was mostly resolved, we performed a treatment similar to the first, and the patient was released with a simple exercise to do at home for prevention.  


It is important not to just treat the painful areas, but also muscles that contribute to movement of the leg and back as a whole. In addition to the piriformis itself, the Gluteus medius (the hip abductor) and tensor fascia latae are almost always a part of the treatment.  In this case, it was also necessary to treat the hip flexor. These areas of weakness can be uncovered by careful exam.

Also of note, the acupuncture points are selected based on what neuroanatomical structure they relate to, versus the traditional selection of points based on meridians. This, in the author’s opinion, creates an approach which is both more reasoned and more accurate.

Not every case resolves so quickly and easily. The chronicity of the condition, structural imbalances, age, and diet all play a role. In some cases, Chinese herbal medicine such as Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is added. However, most cases can at least improve if not be totally resolved with acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment.


The One Simple Summer Eating Tip to Make You Feel Fantastic

Healthy eating tips for the summer are a little tricky.

Since the weather is warm, you need light, cooling foods. Juicy peaches, sweet watermelons, tomatoes hot off the vine… The right foods are easy to find. One trip through your garden or a walk through a farmer’s market and you’ll have the perfect summer meal.

But since you’re outside exercising and working in the garden, you build up an appetite. You work hard and play hard. You crave calories to keep the fire burning. Are cucumbers the first food you reach for after rototilling the garden? Probably not.

Unfortunately, many times craving calories trumps craving fresh food. You satisfy your appetite with a meal of tortilla chips and soda. Or brats and beer. Or hamburgers and ice cream.

And afterward you feel full, bloated and hot.

Fortunately there is a solution. It is possible to eat well, have energy and avoid feeling bloated.

The trick is in the timing.

With an easy tweak to your natural summer diet, you’ll feel fantastic.

Summer Eating Tips

It should come as no surprise that I recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables in the summer. In fact, I recommend eating fruits and vegetables all year, but in the summer they are especially important.

Summer is a yang season and is associated with the fire element. Fire governs the heart and small intestine. When fire is balanced within the body, the heart governs and circulates the blood properly and the intestines properly digest food. Emotionally you are balanced, sensitive and enthusiastic. You feel good.

There are a few simple guidelines to keep fire balanced.

  1. Focus on yin foods. Yin foods are wet and cool. Fruits and vegetables (especially green vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers and watercress) are yin. For protein, eat fish or seafood instead of meat. Smoothies and salads are yin and are excellent summer meals.
  2. Eat moderately. Avoid huge meals.
  3. Eat bitter foods. Bitter foods support the fire element. Coffee, tea and chocolate (without sugar) are all bitter and moderate amounts of them are appropriate for summer health. This is the season you can call your coffee a health food. Asparagus, bitter greens like kale, arugula or escarole, celery and rhubarb are all good foods for the summer.

Strawberry-Grapefruit Smoothie

Yield: Makes three 1 3/4-cup servings


1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 cups hulled fresh or frozen strawberries

1 sweet apple (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), peeled, cored and chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1 cup water


Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Recipe from: Whole Living

Eat Big in the Afternoon

If you focus on yin and bitter foods, your diet is cooling and light. But what happens when you need more energy than a slice of watermelon provides?

This is when the timing of your meals matters.

If you need a heavier meal, eat it mid to late afternoon. “Picnic time” is the best time to fuel up. Avoid eating a big meal early or late in the day.

A healthy summer eating plan starts with a breakfast of fruit, smoothies or yogurt. Have a salad for lunch. Eat a heavy meal later in the afternoon and end your day with more fruit.

By eating mostly fresh, light, wet foods and including a heavy meal only in the afternoon, you will help your fire burn bright but not out of control. You’ll feel light, cool and energized. Your heart, circulation and digestion will be strong. You won’t feel bloated or full.

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses nutrition as a tool to maintain health and promote healing. Eating a yin diet with your heavy meal in the late afternoon is good general advice, but your constitution may need a slightly different routine. The proportion of yin food matters and varies from person to person. To get the best summer eating tips, contact me and together we’ll make a plan that’s perfect for you.


Relieve Your Arthritis With Acupuncture

Arthritis is a painful and oftentimes debilitating condition that’s characterized by inflammation within one or more joints. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 2 people will develop osteoarthritis of the knee by the age of 85. It’s important to note, however, that there are several different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being just one. Other common types include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, Still’s disease, and ankylosing spondylitis.

While most people living with moderate-to-severe arthritis resort to prescription medication to mask their symptoms, a safer and more effective form of treatment may come in the form of a 2,000-plus-year-old Chinese practice called acupuncture. Numerous studies have found acupuncture to offer relief of many different types of arthritis. And best of all, it doesn’t come with the adverse side effects associated with arthritis medication.

Acupuncture and Arthritis: How It Works

Acupuncture is based on the belief that our bodies have an essential life/energy force (referred to as Qi). This force flows through the body, traveling along 20 channels (referred to as meridians). Normally, Qi flows unrestricted, keeping the individual healthy while warding off disease and illness. However, there are times when the Qi will become stagnant, blocked or dislodged from its normal position, leaving the individual susceptible to illness.

By placing thin needles directly under the skin, a licensed acupuncturists can stimulate the flow of Qi, correcting blockages and other abnormalities. Furthermore, acupuncture aids in regulating the nervous system, which in turn produces the natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins.

Studies Reaffirm Acupuncture For Arthritis

A group of German researchers conducted a study on 304,674 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Researchers split the patients into two groups, one of which received traditional routine care, while the other received 15 sessions of acupuncture. Researchers concluded that patients who had received acupuncture experienced better knee function, less pain, and an overall better quality of life than their counterparts.

Another study – this one originating out of China – found that both acupuncture and electroacupuncture were effective at reduce pain, inflammation and tenderness in parts of the body by arthritis. Granted, this was a small study with just 36 patients, but it’s just one more study attesting to the healing power of acupuncture.

Call us today at (630) 369-3237 to learn how you can get back on track to better health!

Acupuncture for Fertility

Alternative Treatments for Fertility

About 10 percent of couples struggle with infertility and an inability to conceive, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For those struggling to have children, fertility treatment can become tiring and expensive very quickly. There are numerous alternative treatments including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that have been thought to improve fertility.


More and more people are choosing acupuncture for fertility.  By increasing blood flow and Qi (pronounced “chee”) to the reproductive organs, acupuncture can help increase fertility. Stress has been noted to cause infertility in women due to an increase in the hormone cortisol. A change in hormones can cause the body to be put out of balance, affecting fertility. Acupuncture can help by decreasing stress with acupuncture points and returning the body to balance.

Acupuncture for fertility treatment has almost no side effects, compared to Western medications and hormone treatments that can cause lasting side effects.

Chinese Herbs

Women who received Chinese herbal treatments once a week for about three months were found to be twice as likely to become pregnant as women who didn’t receive the treatment, according to a study in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

Chinese herbal therapy uses more than 150 herbs found in groups of about 15 herbs in each treatment. The treatments are made of formulas that include natural ingredients such as bark, root, leaf, flower and plant extracts. These treatments are most commonly given in pill or tea form.

Clinical studies in China have shown that 70 percent of those struggling with fertility who were treated with Chinese herbs have become pregnant.

Ask an acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor on how you can receive Chinese herbal treatment.


Yoga is another way to increase fertility by reducing stress and increasing blood flow, which can help gynecological function.

Breathing practices that are done in yoga can help to relax the mind and lower cortisol levels, bringing hormones back to a normal balance.

Some poses can increase circulation to the reproductive organs including Seated Angle Pose. This pose consists of sitting with your legs stretched out to stretch the hamstrings, bringing more blood flow to the pelvic area.

If you have experience or supervision, yoga inversions such as headstands or shoulder stands can be extremely helpful fertility boosters as they balance the hormones.

Simple lifestyle changes can also help boost your fertility including eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, smoking and environmental toxins, and getting sufficient sleep.

Acupuncture for fertility can be a less expensive, non-invasive option for improving fertility!


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