Acupuncture and Myofascial Release Therapy

Spencer Leek, LMT

Many people ask me if it’s OK to get acupuncture while receiving myofascial release therapy (MFR).  I say YES, they are very complementary therapies.  I try to explain how the fascial system is not only the conductive system in which the chi (bodily energy) flows; it also surrounds every nerve in the body.   Even the weight of a human hair can change the conductivity of a nerve cell.   Therefore, MFR can help open up the restrictions, like log jams, in the energy system.

Today I was re-reading John Barnes’ book, “Healing Ancient Wounds” in preparation for a Skill Enhancement Seminar.  A “Skill Enhancement” is a week of working with John Barnes and his team of therapists in his clinic, Therapy on the Rocks in Sedona, AZ.  In Sedona, therapists learn by working directly with John, treating his patients with him, and refining skills with his team of therapists.  This is this will be my second Skill Enhancement and my first since becoming an “Expert Therapist” three years ago.

The better explanation from John on why the two therapist are complementary is, “When you have fascial restrictions, it is the equivalent of twisting or crushing copper wire.  The fascial restrictions are compressing the acupuncture meridians, and as they are twisted and crushed they lose their ability to conduct the “chi”, or bioenergy, properly.” (Barnes, p. 65).

All the methods of improving the movement of bioenergy (chi) can improve your health.  MFR is particularly effective at removing the crushing forces of a damaged fascial system and allowing your body and chi to move more easily.


Why Does an Acupuncturist Look at My Tongue?

By Anne Carruth, LAc


“Why do you look at my tongue?”

I get this question a lot.

No, I’m not checking up on your dental hygiene or trying to catch you drinking coffee.  The tongue is a traditional diagnostic tool in Chinese Medicine.  Your Qi meridians are associated with specific regions of the tongue – think reflexology.

When I look at your tongue I view at it as a whole, first, and then for changes in the specific meridian zones.  I consider its shape, thickness, & width.  Is it symmetrically shaped, does it fill up your whole mouth or seem too small?  Is it long, short, narrow?  Does it have a pointed, rounded, or square tip?  What about scalloped edges or puffy areas?  I look at the color of your tongue and whether or not it has cracks or dark papillae on it. Tongues can be red, pink, pale, purple, orange, brown, and even black –  and each color tells me a bit about what’s going on internally.  I assess the coating on your tongue.  Is it spread evenly over the whole tongue?  Is it thick, thin, sticky, or foamy? Is the coating yellow, white, brown, or clear?  This gets tricky when people brush their tongues.  Ideally you shouldn’t brush your tongue the night before, or morning of acupuncture, so that I can get an accurate reading of your tongue coating.  All of these details, and many more, help me understand how your meridian systems are functioning and where you need a little support.

Get to know your own tongue.  Seriously!  Stick it out & relax it.  Check it regularly and notice when it changes.  Does it get thicker when you’re tired or sleeping poorly?  Do the tip and edges get redder when you’re experiencing a lot of stress?  Is the coating thicker when you’re sick?  If you have digestive problems, see if there’s a crack in the Stomach & Spleen region of your tongue.  Your tongue says so much! – no pun intended.

Recognizing changes in your tongue, even if you don’t know exactly what they mean, can alert you to subtle imbalances in your system.  So stick it out and wag it around…in the name of wellness!




Craniosacral Therapy – a Subtle Treatment with Big Benefits

By Sarah Grumbling, LMT

A craniosacral therapy (CST) session can look very different day to day, patient to patient. Often times I treat people who suffer from migraines, jaw pain/tension, concussion, whiplash or low back pain (areas specific to the cranium or sacrum), but truly, this treatment can address a number of issues throughout the entire body ranging from muskulo-skeletal pain to post traumatic stress to digestive disorders. By approaching the body with a light touch, we can feel into the layers of restriction, and once identified, let the body guide us — sometimes it pulls you in quite deep, and other times there are layers closer to the surface that require an attentive presence before unwinding. In a way CST is like a mirror in that we try to match or ‘blend and meld’ to the tissue’s movement, depth, tension, and then, as the area of restriction begins to move, we follow.

This is essentially how we approach the bones of the craniosacral sysyem — your 16 cranial/facial bones, your 24 vertebrae, sacrum, and coccyx (tailbone) — as restrictions in this system transfer via the body’s fascial network, often leading to pain and tension in the muscular system. If you have ever had a concussion or experienced trauma to the face, there could be restrictions in the “joints” (sutures) of the cranial bones that typically don’t get addressed in a massage session. These restrictions can lead to chronic headaches, eye strain, jaw tension, neck pain, even depression.

But craniosacral also can work directly with the muscles, connective tissue, organs, and all the systems throughout the body. Guided by the premise of facilitating rather than “doing,” the body will lead your craniosacral therapist to the area of most significant restriction. For example, a patient with ongoing digestive distress may also have chronic low back pain. If the body leads me to the abdomen, it’s possible I might find restriction in say, the small intestine. Since this organ is surrounded by strong layers of connective tissue that directly link it to the lumbar spine, it is very plausible that a restriction in the small intestine could be the source of the back pain. I often like to remind my clients that we are not simply made up of front, back and sides — we have a middle! Your body is a whole, three dimensional creation. Our many layers extend down the core where ‘front’ and ‘back’ meet and intertwine, concocting our ‘middle’ and influencing the entire system.

Here are some benefits clients have reported after craniosacral therapy:

  • deep, profound relaxation (release of stress)
  • pain relief of acute car accident injury
  • fewer (to none!) and less severe migraines
  • improved digestion
  • decreased anxiety
  • increased body awareness
  • release of old scar tissue — particularly from appendectomy surgery
  • improved mobility around areas of injury or surgery
  • more ease in the breath
  • the feeling of very deep massage, “from the inside out”
  • more grounded, connected and a sense of wholeness — feeling ‘put back together’

By facilitating the body’s release from deep within the craniosacral system, changes can be felt throughout the entire body, from head to feet, and everywhere in between. Come see me for a session and feel how it works!

— Sarah Grumbling, LMT

To schedule a craniosacral therapy session with Sarah, please visit our online scheduler here.

cranial parade


by Anne Carruth, LAc

Are you ready to truly look and feel younger? To have a smoother, firmer complexion with fewer lines and wrinkles?  How about more energy, deeper sleep, increased confidence, and less stress? 

Give me 5 weeks, and I’ll give you a younger-looking, more vibrant YOU.  My secret weapon: Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.

For centuries this ancient beauty treatment was considered a luxury reserved for royalty.  It was employed by emperors and empresses as far back as 970 A.D.  Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture (FRA), sometimes called an “Acupuncture Facelift”, increases Qi and blood flow to the face and neck, promotes collagen production, and tones and tightens the skin and facial muscles.  The FRA program entails 2 acupuncture visits each week for 5 weeks (10 treatments total), and now also includes a cleanse.  The program not only rejuvenates the face and neck, but also strengthens the internal systems that support our skin, and overall vitality.

What FRA can do for you:

  • Lift and tighten skin
  • Eliminate fine lines
  • Reduce deep wrinkles and grooves
  • Even skin tone and reduce sun damage, age spots, and acne marks
  • Increase collagen production
  • Redefine the jawline and tighten the neck
  • Lift sagging jowls and droopy eyelids
  • Reduce undereye bags and puffiness
  • Increase blood, Qi, and moisture
     flow to the skin

And since you’ll be receiving full face and body acupuncture treatments twice weekly during your 5 week series, you can look forward to improved digestion, fewer aches and pains, balanced hormones, less stress, a boosted immune system, deeper sleep, and more energy.  The FRA Series is a complete overhaul for your body, inside and out!

The Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture Program costs $1,750 and includes:

  • Acupuncture on your face and body twice weekly for 5 consecutive weeks
  • Chinese herbal formulas specific to your constitution to support your skin and overall health
  • A full line of professional-grade, toxin free skincare products for you to use during and after your series ($287 retail value)
  • Continued discounts on the entire skincare line after completing the program
  • Your own dermal roller to help you build collagen and exfoliate at home ($40 retail value)
  • A 14 Day Guided Cleanse to reduce inflammation, facilitate detoxification,support collagen production, load your body with nutrients, increase energy, and help you clean up your diet ($150 retail value)

It is simply amazing to see the changes in people’s skin, bodies, and confidence during this 5 week transformation!  I am continually impressed by the care and effort my patients dedicate to their wellness, and it’s extra fun when everyone else can suddenly see the results.  Help me spread the word that there are safe, natural, and effective ways to turn back the clock and love the way you look.  And FRA is for men and women, so don’t be shy, fellas.

I can take two new cosmetic patients this month!

Contact me – Anne Carruth, LAc — if you’re interested and I’ll get you scheduled. Email or call the clinic at 503-445-7767!


Here’s a great little article that gives more info on cosmetic acupuncture, and compares it to other common cosmetic procedures.

The Wet Sock Treatment: An Amazing Cure with a Weird Name

By Anne Carruth, LAc

The Wet Sock Treatment.  It sounds like a practical joke pulled by a naughty band of 2nd graders, right?

Well, The Wet Sock Treatment is actually a simple immune-boosting, cold-kicking home therapy that you can use on yourself and loved ones.  It’s perfect for both children and adults at the first sign of a sniffle or sore throat, or to help kick those lingering cold symptoms.

Here’s the rundown:


You’ll need 1 pair of thin cotton socks & 1 pair of thick wool socks.

1.  Soak the thin cotton socks in cold, cold water & gently wring them out.  Or get them wet & put them in the refrigerator for a few hours.

2.  Just as you’re getting into bed, put on the cold, wet cotton socks.
Stick with me here.  I know it sounds wretched, but as soon as you put on the wool socks your feet start warming up.  I promise it’s doable.   

3.  Put the dry, thick wool socks on over the cold, wet cotton socks & go to sleep.

That’s it.  You’ll sleep like a baby, wake up with dry socks, and feel loads better in the morning.

How does it work?:

The theory is that the shock of cold to your feet cues your body to rush blood to your extremities and heat up those piggly wigglies.  Overall blood circulation and lymph activity is stimulated, jumpstarting your immune system.  My personal experience has been that The Wet Sock Treatment nips a sore throat in the bud, has helped me get over lingering cold and flu symptoms, and I always sleep extremely well when I do the treatment.  My one piece of advice is to make sure the wet socks are COTTON.  I did this once with a pair of thin, synthetic liner socks for my wet layer.  I don’t know what they were made of, but they were still damp in the morning and I certainly didn’t feel better.

You can pamper yourself a bit by rubbing a few drops of calming or immune supporting essential oils into the soles of your feet before putting on the wet socks.  Try lavender, rosemary, or thyme.  You can also start the whole process with a warm foot soak before applying the cold, wet socks.

Stave off those cold and flu bugs this season, but if you do find yourself feeling crummy, be sure to come in for some acupuncture.  Chinese medicine is great for easing aches and pains, resolving congestion, coughs, and headaches, and boosting your energy.


Three Easy Ways to Improve your Posture

By Angela de Roos, LMT

Breath is the first and last thing we will do.  Do it well.  Watch your breath as it moves your spine.  In those micro moments when you might be driving, or at your desk, or about to scroll thru Face Book again, or… Let your attention (even as you do what you do)go to the movement your body makes as you inhale and exhale.  The deeper your exhale, the more relaxed your central nervous system will become.  Notice places that move and places that do not.  Focus in on all four sides of your belly as you breath.  Start at the belly, breathe into your chest and let the exhale fall over your shoulders and down your back.  Create length in your spine with your awareness and your breath.

As we scurry through our day often we are on our toes or possibly the inner or outer edges of our feet.  Plant your feet as you walk.  Our feet carry a heavy load for being so small.  We want to set up a good foundation because the rest of our body depends on our weight being evenly transferred.  Let your heel lead as you walk, this will allow you to lean back a bit and trust.  As your heel strikes the ground first, roll your foot out like you had a rolling pin and you were trying to press as much of the surface of your foot into the floor as possible.  The heel comes first, then the whole ball of the foot, then the toes.  With more pride in your stride, you’ll have more pep in your step.

Unlock your knees and feel grounded almost immediately.  Try it, just lock your knees for a moment and feel your weight move forward.  Then give your knees a mini bend.  Just a few millimeters into your standing poses will unlock your pelvis and help create even distribution into the feet. The knees are not weight bearing joints, while locking the knees may provide a sense of security, it can also lead to unnecessary strain in the lower back and pelvis. Create openness in your knees and your feet can exchange more information with the earth.  And create more freedom and range of motion in your hips.

As you watch your breath, plant your feet and unlock your knees you deepen your connection with yourself and the world around you.


This is the Cranial Parade!

Sarah Grumbling, LMT 

Who are these wacky creatures tromping through your head?

Why cranial bones of course!!

Did you know your skull is home to 16 different cranial bones, and while once believed to be fused into one whole unit, they actually move, all day long? Bones in the craniosacral system (like the ones pictured here: occiput, sphenoid, sacrum and temporal) gently rock and roll with the craniosacral rhythm, created by the brain’s production and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid. This subtle movement transfers throughout the body via our intricate fascial network and can be felt by experienced practitioners trained in Crainosacral Therapy. When cranial bone movement is restricted, the effects can be widespread and we can end up with a whole slew of discomfort like headaches (migraines), jaw pain (TMJD), insomnia, low back and neck pain. Craniosacral Therapy gently eases restrictions and brings healthy movement back to not only the cranial bones, but the entire body! A deeply relaxing craniosacral treatment is quite subtle, often requiring only 5 grams of pressure from the practitioner. Functioning as a “reset” to the central nervous system, this modality is especially beneficial to anyone experiencing stress or anxiety after recent traumatic events such as car accidents, surgery, or concussions.

With a newly expanded schedule, I am offering craniosacral sessions Tuesday through Saturday here at Portland Natural Health. Please visit our online scheduler to book your next appointment, or call the front desk at: (503) 445-7767.

Let’s work together to unwind tension and give your cranium freedom in movement!

~Sarah Grumbling, LMT #19491


cranial parade

Sulfur, Water, and Health: A Hidden Cause of Your Chronic Symptoms?

By Greg Nigh, ND, LAc

Maria and I recently traveled to Varna, Bulgaria. There we attended, and I spoke at, the 10th annual Conference on the Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Water. This might sound like a conference that has little to do with medicine. In fact I think the discoveries being made about the unique properties of water are going to redefine our entire understanding about health, disease and the practice of medicine.

Water in our bodies is not like the liquid water that we drink out of a glass. Water in our cells and throughout our bodies is more like a gel, with a very definite structure and different chemical properties than non-gelled water. Most importantly, it is the maintenance of this structured water in and around our cells that is vital to our health.

Structured water regulates the movement of nutrients in and out of our cells. It also allows cells to communicate with each other. When this communication between cells breaks down, it can be a first step in the development of cancer. Another extremely important role of this structured water is to act as an energy reserve. The thicker this layer of structured water around our cells, the stronger the “battery” this water becomes for each cell.

My own talk at the conference was to described the central role of the element sulfur in building and maintaining this structured water in the body. I explained why sulfur is critical for “water health,” and how a variety of heavy metals, environmental pollutants and especially glyphosate, the chemical found in Roundup and other herbicides, can cause significant damage to the structure of water in our bodies. This can and does lead to many chronic health problems.

I finished my talk by describing the diet protocol that was developed by Maria, Immersion Health‘s nutrition therapist. Used in combination with several specific detoxification therapies and nutrients to help sulfur metabolism, Maria and I have watched dozens of patients recover – often in just a few days – from a wide range of symptoms that had sometimes been present for decades prior. The most common conditions associated with sulfur issues are skin rashes, hives, or itching; hot flashes and sweats, including menopausal; brain fog, anxiety and concentration issues; joint pain; and headaches, including migraines. These and other symptoms have been amazingly responsive to our Low Sulfur Protocol.

Anyone interested in an evaluation of their sulfur metabolism and possibly going through our 2-week Low Sulfur Protocol should contact our clinic at 503-719-4806 or email


Can Posture Change Your Mood?

 Stefan M. Herold, DC, DACNB

When is the last time you skipped?  And I don’t mean skipped out on work or school, but ‘skip-walked’. It’s a movement that children naturally adopt the world over. I myself skipped with my 2 year old niece at the Minnesota State Fair last month and enjoyed every minute of it.  Yet most adults must feel too embarrassed to go skipping down the sidewalk in front of their neighbors.

What a shame, cause simple changes in our posture or movement can have very real affects on our mood, even our hormone levels.

Another example are ‘power poses’.  You know – standing like Superman with hands on your hips and chest puffed out.  Studies show that simply standing in a power pose for one minute will raise testosterone by 8% and decrease the stress hormone cortisol by 25%!

Standing with shoulders slumped forward, however, resulted in a drop in testosterone by 10% and rise in stress hormones by 15%.  All from a change in body posture.  If you want to learn more, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talks on power poses – super interesting stuff.  (Check that out right here.)

Don’t feel confident?  Stand up straight, put a smile on your face and fake it – your body chemistry can’t tell the difference.


4 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy this Fall

Greetings readers!

I am Dr. Stephen Levy, ND, LAc, LMT and I welcome you all back to the Portland Natural Health Blog. Today, I want to offer you some practical and easily accomplished advice for how to stay healthy this fall. Yes, it’s fall already and that means cold and flu season is upon us. In order to avoid illness during this transitional time I have included 4 tips for you to remember to maintain your vitality.

    1. Get more sleep! Proper sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Sleep is the time used by the body to heal. Immune cells are created at this time and they roam the body while you sleep gobbling up invaders and help to repair damaged cells and tissues. Detoxification is at its highest level while you slumber clearing the body of waste and debris. If you are not getting enough sleep then you are cutting these valuable processes short and weakening your immune system and opening yourself up to colds and flus. On average, between 8-10 hours of sleep per night is recommended.
    2. Root Out! This means shift your diet to the seasonal change. This is the time when root vegetables are abundant and they are a great source of antioxidant rich vitamins and minerals. Root vegetables include a wide variety of foods such as: carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, taro, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, onions, and many more. Are you hungry yet? Well go root out this fall!
    3. Wear a Scarf! Dressing warm for this season should include wearing a scarf. In Chinese Medicine it is believed that colds and flus are often caused by external factors such as wind, cold, and dampness, etc. and that these invaders will often enter the body through points located on the neck, head, and throat. To guard against these elements a scarf will cover and protect those points and help keep you healthy; not to mention, scarves are fashionable and look great on both men and women.
    4. Wash Your Hands! This is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy this fall. Washing your hands frequently will help prevent the spread of germs from others to you and vice versa. Use simple soap and water, lather up, rub hands together for 20 seconds, rinse, dry and viola! Easy to do but often overlooked. In a pinch, appropriate substitutes to hand washing can include anti-microbial hand sanitizers and essential oil blends such as On Guard.

Well, there you go; 4 simple, easy things you can do to keep yourself healthy this fall. I hope this helps so that you can enjoy the splendor of Autumn here in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for reading!

In Health and Healing,
Dr. Levy