Basic Self Care Tips for Fall

Basic Self Care Tips for Fall

contributed by Alexandra McElwee (Mend Acupuncturist)

One of the many beauties of Chinese Medicine is the idea that we are a part of nature, and so naturally our lifestyles should change and be in harmony with the seasons.

The transition from summer to fall is a big one, especially for those of us who are particularly sensitive to change. Summer is all about yang – heat, connectivity with others, lots of energy. The fall season is a transition into the yin energy of winter, which is more inward, restorative and cooling. What better time for self-care than in the face of change? Here are a few basic tips to help you adjust to the fall season.

Tip # 1: Honor the Change of Season. One of the best things to do is to simply recognize and honor the change of season and how it affects you. The days are shorter, it is getting darker earlier, and your energy level and mood may change as a result – so take more time for yourself and get plenty of rest. Grounding is essential for season changes and one helpful way to do this is to focus on your feet – give yourself a foot massage at the beginning or the end of your day to help you feel connected and in your body.

Tip #2: Shift Your Diet. It’s time to do away with all of those green summer salads and raw veggies, and instead try to eat more hearty and cooked foods. Trade that iced tea for some hot tea. Root vegetables such as beets, sweet potatoes, ginger, garlic, leeks, and carrots are particularly recommended at this time because they are seasonal, nourishing and energetically grounding.

Tip #3: Boost Your Immune System. In Chinese Medicine each season is linked to different organ system. The fall correlates with the lungs which play a key role in our immune system. A couple of things we can do to help keep the lungs strong are to 1.) To dress warmly for the season, taking special care to keep the neck and upper back covered because they are vulnerable areas and 2.) Breathe fully and deeply.

Tip #4: Get Acupuncture! Come and get some acupuncture, of course! Acupuncture treatments will help your body and mind adapt to the changing of the seasons as well as boost your immunity.

Ready for your Fall Acupuncture Session? Schedule Here.

Late Summer DIY Wellness

Late Summer DIY Wellness

contributed by Nikki Hatch, L.Ac. (Mend Acupuncturist)

During the late Summer heat and dampness  tend to be prominent. Both of these elements can easily throw the heart and spleen function out of balance. Internally we may be feeling clammy, sweaty/sticky, have a poor appetite, heaviness in the limbs and fatigue may arise.

Tip # 1: Eat cooked foods that nourish the spleen-pancreas and ease digestion. Don’t combine too many ingredients and use minimal seasoning. Reduce the intake of complex sugars, dairy and greasy foods. Since this season is associated with the color yellow and the sweet flavor, try incorporating golden and orange-colored foods that are mildly sweet into your diet; such as: apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, chestnuts, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, squash, and yams.

Tip #2: Feel stuck? Move! This aids in reducing damp and stagnation in the body. Choose an activity that brings your heart joy: hula hooping, dancing, yoga, biking, tai chi, hiking, swimming etc.

Tip #3: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent body fluid deficiency.

Tip #4: This is the season of thoughtfulness. Be mindful of how you can nourish yourself and others. Create space to reflect on the harvest of your life. Reflect on where you are in life, your relationships, your work…where are the seeds you have sowed bearing fruit? Where are aspects of your life where the harvest is rich? Where do you find the growth stunted?

Ready for a late summer tune up? Schedule Here.

Addressing Needle Fears

On the topic of “Does it Hurt?”

You know when you were little and played with a safety pin or sewing needle for that thrill of danger? Sliding it just barely under the skin to see what would happen, it doesn’t hurt, but still has that sense of potential pain. I’ve been thinking of scenarios to compare acupuncture needles with. It certainly doesn’t feel like getting a shot, but at the same time, yes, you do feel it. If you are dealing with needle fears or just feel uncomfortable at the thought of getting a bunch of needles stuck into your body, I have good news for you.

Acupuncture is meant to be relaxing

The stereotypical image of getting acupuncture is of a patient lying on a table, needles poking out everywhere, including their face, while they hold very still. First of all, you don’t need to lie perfectly still while getting acupuncture, it is meant to be a gentle, relaxing process. Your therapist will help get you in a position that feels comfortable, you will not be trapped in any sense of the word. You will be able to move if needed to scratch your face or sneeze, but mostly you can just lie back and relax.

If you are at all nervous, there are many ways your therapist can help you over this hump, it should be a stress-free process. They are happy to go at whatever pace you are comfortable with, explain where and why each needle is being applied, and will certainly avoid certain areas you might be more sensitive to. If needles really are a no-go, they can use alternative methods to access the acupuncture points such as press balls, press tacks (not wall tacks!) or heat.

Needle design

It may help to consider the design of an acupuncture needle, which is much more like a pin or a kitten’s whisker. Since a treatment does not involve an injection of any kind, the needles are very different than a medical needle used to give shots or draw blood, which are much thicker and hollow. Acupuncture pins are literally whisker thin, like a hair, and solid. They are pain-free when inserted, but like anything that touches your skin, there is a sensation involved. Unlike the distinct pressing and pinching feeling experienced when getting an injection, an acupuncture insertion is like a hard tap to the area that is over almost as soon as it starts. There is virtually no sensation when they are removed, and none at all once they are in.

But, why?

Now that we’ve established that getting a treatment is nothing like getting a bunch of shots, the question remains, why the needles? The purpose of acupuncture is to tap into your body’s own resources for self regulation. There are hundreds of points each with a specific action/effect on the body, inserting needles into them activates that point. This stimulates the specific action and effect that each point has to offer. It helps to think of a treatment as a gentle way of soothing what ails you, no suffering required.  

Ready to give it a try?


Walk-in Clinic Becomes a By Appointment Clinic

We know, we know, you love the walk-in clinic. We do, too! Please just trust on this. Our fees will stay the same, and we will still be open 7 days a week, we just ask that you schedule your appointment in advance, here’s why:

Scheduled appointments happen

Good intentions for walk-ins can get overthrown by life (work needing more of you, feeling guilty about not getting home sooner to family, and even a rainy day can make it a bit of an uphill battle to get out). “If I had a penny for every time I hear a patient in the Community Clinic say, ‘I was meaning to here last week!” The patient will observe that they needed a bit of TLC sooner but life got in the way of life. We don’t hear these same sentiments in our One on One clinic. The reason is simple: in One on One patients have to schedule and so the rhythm is there for them. Acupuncture is not another thing to squeeze in, it’s a treat on the week’s schedule.

With acupuncture, the dose matters

Similar to making use of a medication such as an antibiotic or antidepressant, or even an herbal therapy, acupuncture takes the right dosing. Every successful research study looking at acupuncture includes a course of about 12 or more sessions. We always say, “if you’ve tried acupuncture once, you have not tried acupuncture.”

Owner and acupuncturist Sarah O’Leary reflected on her own introduction to acupuncture.  “I started going to acupuncture at first in a student clinic where a series was required to sign up,” Sarah reports. “It was just interesting at first, but it did not cause any real or meaningful changes. But after ten sessions the reason I came in (migraines) had been addressed significantly. And my mood was impressively improved, I felt less rocked by events in my life. Over the course of a year in acupuncture my allergies became a non issue and I got sick less often. If I had not committed to those ten sessions I would have never gone back after session one or two.”

The benefits of moving to the scheduled community clinic model (vs. walk-in)

  1. A more even traffic flow in the clinic and peaceful experience

  2. More attentive and less rushed acupuncturists

  3. The chance to make and stick to a plan with your acupuncturist and see results faster

  4. By scheduling ahead, you will definitely get a chair without waiting, and we can make sure you get in and out in a timely manner.

  5. Same day appts can still be made as close to an hour in advance for those unexpected needs.

Same Day Appointments

For acute issues like headaches, colds, unexpected anxiety or sleep trouble you can still get a same day appointment. Simply call or book online. Had a tough day at work and need to destress? Appointments can be made as close as an hour in advance for those unexpected needs. We recommend downloading the scheduling app here. Or you can always call (410-235-1776), we have added receptionist hours 7 days a week to be sure the phone is picked up when you call.

Schedule your next visit here.

Happy New Year from Mend

Year in Review from our Acupuncture Team

The New Year holiday is a wonderful time for reflection and celebration. It turns out 2016 wasn’t all bad. The acupuncture team at Mend had quite a year indeed. Sarah, Kim, Michael, Kristy and Claire reflect on the year behind and the year ahead. Their quirky and heartfelt responses are the pulse of the practice at Mend.

Q: Tell us something wonderful that happened in your life this year

KimKim: This past year I challenged myself to do a few things that were WAY outside of my comfort zone, I took improv classes and I trained for and completed a triathlon. The significance of this to me was that I found putting myself out there in vulnerable and uncomfortable ways was incredibly empowering.

Michael: This year, I became the proud legal guardian and caretaker of Mina the world’s most adorable snowshoe cat, as her previous owner finalized her relocation and marriage plans in Brazil.  She’s 18 and has had a challenging and tumultuous life, and I’m honored to be able to give her a ‘Golden years forever home’ for her well earned retirement.    

ClaireClaire: In addition to Mend, I’m excited to be working at an addiction recovery center in West Baltimore. It’s a very special place. It’s a strong community where hearts are open and bureaucracy takes a back seat. It’s a place where I go to find my center and remember what’s important, perhaps just as much as the clients passing through the program.

Q: What does New Year’s mean to you?

Sarah: The way the light hits the windows in my house this time of year makes me want to get rid of all of my belongings (or maybe just dust). For me, it’s a chance to decide what didn’t work last year and shed it. Last year I got so excited and occupied by our move to Remington I decided I could let physical activity and strength-building slide. That doesn’t feel like it’s working for me anymore. I’m at a gym “appointment” twice weekly now. Those shaky planks and wobbly burpees remind me that I have just this one humble body.

Claire: A new year to me is a time to step back, get quiet and dust off my journal or any piece of paper and scribble a bit. The old me used to just write the things I thought I had done wrong and how I could fix them in the new year. That piece of paper started looking strangely the same year after year. Over the past few years, I have changed my language a bit. I honor what I’ve done in the last year, where I’ve stumbled, and note where I’d like to put my energy in the coming year.

KristyKristy: For so many clients and myself, this has been a year of reserving energy, and refocusing goals. Frustration and anxiety often run alongside those moments where we realize that our current reality is not where we ultimately want to be. But the realization, or x-factor, is exactly what we need to provide momentum to take steps toward our vision.  

Q: This has been a year of transition for Mend, tell us how it’s going from your perspective

MichaelMichael:  I love hearing from our patients and volunteers, how our expansion is seen through their eyes, as a reflection of their own esteem for what we do and the impact we’ve had on their lives.  It’s really heartwarming, and sustaining, to hear how much we mean to so many people, and the chance to bring that to another location is validating to the whole experience.

Claire: I think it’s going great – being able to refer a client to a massage, a private session or a community session is powerful. It allows the mom and pop feel of this business to stay strong.  I very much look forward to practicing in the community space when it opens up in Remington.

Kim: I am thrilled about all aspects of this transitional year for Mend! The seeds that were planted are starting to sprout and I think we’ll see tremendous growth this year. It’s very exciting! Our group of practitioners all complement each other in meaningful ways, our support staff has expanded and is dedicated to helping us grow, our clients are engaged in their health care process and the health care providers that we have presented to this past year are interested in learning about what acupuncture has to offer their patients. We are poised for a phenomenal 2017 thanks to the collective efforts of all of our Menders, both clients and staff alike!

sarahSarah: I have learned a lot this year. Mostly I have learned that there are some ideas in Acupuncture theory and TCM that culturally we are not just ready for, but need. My mentor Bob Duggan (the co-founder of the acupuncture graduate program here: Maryland University of Integrative Health, formerly Tai Sophia) passed this year. He would say, “We are losing common sense in healthcare.” He’d quote his mentor (philosopher Ivan Illich): “To hell with health…it’s a modern addiction.” He’d ask his faculty and students, “How are you? Are you getting enough movement? Have you had enough water today? Are you breathing? Are things harmonious in your relationships? Have you had a good meal today?” It is so simple really. He would say acupuncture is simply waking-up the body or reminding us of what we already know. My shoulder hurts if I sit for too long. My migraine comes on when I don’t go to bed by 10pm. I feel overwhelmed when I haven’t had coffee with a friend or when I don’t have time to myself. It may not be an MRI or a steroid injection; it may be the thing I know I crave.

Q: What’s your sign? (Zodiac or Chinese version) How do you think this year will go? What about last year?

Meta Slider - HTML Overlay - mpo-130502-9304Michael: Apparently I share a zodiac sign with our president-elect and twit’er-in-chief.  The thought of a Gemini president is truly terrifying.  God help us all.

Sarah: I was born in the year of the monkey. This was a Monkey year. Monkey years are unpredictable, fast changing and full of shenanigans; this year reminded us to keep a sense of humor. That it did. This is the year of the Rooster ahead of us (beginning late January which marks the Chinese New Year and the beginning of Spring on the TCM calendar). Being detail oriented matters this year more than others. This year your action will determine more than the placement of the stars. For a monkey like me, this is a great exercise! It’s a good reminder to be conscious of where to hunker down and put energy and to also conserve and be intentional (and less distracted!).

Kim:  My zodiac sign is Virgo and I’m an Ox. Although last year was one of great personal and professional growth  I also feel like 2016 was laden with a collective anxiety fueled by relentless media exposure, global instability and social injustices both here and abroad. My hope for this year is that despite the big problems of the world we remember kindness and equity right where you are is very powerful.

Q: Tell us a little about your journey as an acupuncturist this year. What was something you learned? What do you hope to change or improve on in the coming year?

mpo-130502-9249Kristy: I have learned so much from clients this year about how acupuncture nourishes the inside changes necessary to make the outside changes we crave for our lives. 2016 was the rest and reserve time, 2017 will be the year to fully step into the vision we see for ourselves.

Kim: This year I realized that I enjoy reading about acupuncture research, something I never would have anticipated enjoying. I’m passionate about trying to move our profession forward and believe that educating both the public and health care providers about acupuncture is an essential part of that evolution. I have a lot to learn about being a proficient educator and look forward to dedicating more time to honing that skill. One of the reasons I became an acupuncturist is because there’s always something new to learn and integrate into the actual practice of acupuncture.  Improving my skills so that I can provide good care for my clients is always my greatest motivator.

Sarah: This year I learned a series of points used by the military (they call it “Battlefield Acupuncture” and train their medics in the points for pain primary). It’s been great for patients who are dealing with pain they’ve had for decades. It’s been a great new tool.

Michael: The biggest lesson I can share from this year is the importance of self-care and professional boundaries for everyone in healthcare and human services.  It’s one of the things I think many of our patients seek from us, and are so grateful for – that we hold space for their healing in such a gentle and uplifting manner.  2016 has been a reminder for me, bringing a slew of tests of my ability to seek out and maintain spaces and activities to appropriately maintain such a level of personal balance as to be able to authentically show up in clinic with the energy for our patients.  Having had my ideals and sanctuaries challenged by factors beyond my control has emphasized for me the need to plan ahead and be a bit more proactive about defending, and cherishing, the sacred things in our lives.  



17 Reasons Why Remington is Baltimore’s Best Kept Secret

img_6021We’ve had our first two months here at the new Mend location in Remington Row. We are luxuriating in some of the surprises and amenities around us. It is certain now that Remington is Baltimore’s best kept secret.

Sarah’s love for Remington: a brief history

Full disclosure, Remington has always had my heart. My husband and I moved into Remington in 2003. We had our first baby and sleepless nights here, and spent many hours on our front porch with now lifetime friends. We lived on Wyman Park Drive across from Wyman Park (a hidden wooded-park that follows the Stony Brook stream designed by the famous Olmsted brothers of Central Park fame).

We lived in Remington for seven sweet years before confronting the public school challenges at the time and moving to the Roland Park school district. Now that I’m back working in the neighborhood I see other families that got creative by making use of charters and the well-renowned Remington based co-op school as the public school finds its way.

Mend’s expansion to Remington

When the opportunity to move Mend to Remington popped up, it was a no brainer. It’s got my heart, clearly, but it’s also one of Baltimore’s best kept secrets. The “best secrets” part has grown tremendously in the last five years or so.

On month two of Mend’s doors being open here and my being back in Remington, here’s my list of my favorite Remington delights and surprises.

1. The new Rite Aid on 29th Street has an incredible sparkling water selection. It’s phenomenal really.

2. The Maryland Avenue Cycle Track is open now. This 2.6 mile protected bike path connects Downtown/Inner Harbor through Mt. Vernon and Station North to Remington (plus once you arrive, the bike racks here are beautiful).

3. Hopkins is all over the Remington development. Hopkins Community Physicians moved their practices to Remington Row (above us). Their clinic is beautiful. With the Hopkins Homewood Campus’ entrance moving to Remington Avenue, the Hopkins presence is easy to feel especially with their attention to security and easy to access transportation options (the Hopkins shuttle comes right to our door).

4. The new R.House Food Hall is thrilling. Have you seen the huge clear glass garage doors that open up to that generous deck on warm weather days? Imagine hot arepas or korean bowl in one hand, a cold beer in the other, with the breeze on your skin. The shuffle board table?? Poke bowls?? Three kinds of iced coffee?? Dreamy. And, it’s all dangerously right next door.

5. The white corner row home under construction (previously a plumbing company) across from our storefront. Guess what? It’s going to be a terrarium bar, small neighborhood nursery, and host of workshops like bouquet making and kids classes (brought to us by B.Willow). Fun, huh?

6. I think we’ve discovered Baltimore’s best urban picnic spot: the generously sized wood and rock benches in front of Remington Row. With wide pathways and thoughtful landscaping, they have become great meeting places and a not-too-shabby place to get some sun and fresh air. Not to mention great people watching and dog petting opportunities.

7. In the spirit of new outdoor spaces in Remington, psst, there’s a private outdoor courtyard on the 2nd floor of Remington Row. It’s as if you’ve been transported to another place. Make friends with a Remington Row resident to be able to enjoy the secret garden. We are hoping to offer outdoor acupuncture this spring in the loungers out there. We’ll keep you posted.

8. While opening another location, admittedly fitness has fallen off. Lucky me that we’re next door to the newly opened Movement Lab. It’s just beautiful inside, and the teachers there are simply lovely and welcoming and it just feels good. Our favorites so far: sunrise yoga and Muay Thai kickboxing. It’s a lovely fitness buffet. I’ll see you there. If I’m not there, please find me at the gluten free bakery (read on)…

9. Six words: The Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Cookie. Sweet 27 (a vegan, gluten free bakery) was a Remington pioneer. And they continue to innovate. I’ll say it one more time – The Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Cookie. Just trust me on this.

10. I’m surprised how much I’m tickled by the four floors of underground parking below us. This garage makes me want to throw a party. I would even eat off of the floor of this garage. It’s simply a delight in there (and we can validate the party, the parking aspect anyway).

11. Thanks for sharing part of your estate Parts & Labor. We’ll be seeing you around the fire at the new, beautiful Parts & Labor fire pit. Their happy hour deals are pretty amazing by the way (e.g. $1 pony beers). When it gets too cold for fire pits – come into the warmest, dimmest lit little speak-easy spot in the middle of undiscovered Remington: WC Harlan. It’s all a good surprise.

12. Best tacos in town at Clavel. Enough said. Just go.

13. Biscuits and slow cooked things by Blacksauce Kitchen is coming very soon. No longer will you have to bear the treacherous elements at the farmer’s market to get your hands on one of those comfort-biscuit sandwiches. They are opening soon; look for them on 29th street!

14. Charmingtons continues to satisfy us with damn good coffee. The layout of large, long tables is good for introverts AND meetings AND your satellite office. Thank you Charmington’s for being there for us always.

15. The makers and woodworkers knew about Remington before anyone else. Remington has attracted some of our favorite woodworkers (e.g., Hadley Woodshop) , metalsmiths (e.g. Majer Metal Works) and other makerspaces. Walk through the neighborhood and you’ll smell sawdust and fire. That’s the smell of something good happening.

16. The Remington O.G. = The Diz. They serve up a really good pub burger and a huge fire place inside makes you want to stay awhile.

17. Last but not least, a delightful thing to love about being in Remington: it’s less than a mile from our original main street love, Hampden. It’s the elbow grease and shoestring budgets of hundreds of small business owners in Hampden that, in part, inspired confidence in the Remington development. Hampden is still home to our sister walk-in community clinic, and home to some of our favorite businesses that are too many to name here.

It’s nice to be home here. Can’t wait to have you for a visit! Schedule your One on One visit here. (Walk-in sessions coming to Remington in February.)

Mend is Expanding. Here are the details.

Mend is Expanding. Here are the details.

Interview with Mend’s Founder

Nostalgia hovered over the table as Sarah O’Leary, founder of Mend, took a sip of coffee and described her family. Her grandfather was a doctor and grandmother a nurse. They ran an old-fashioned community health clinic where patients could walk in and get personalized, hands-on care. Continuing the tradition, her father, also a doctor, saw major shifts in how healthcare was delivered. His career evolved from a single practicing doctor, to managed care. He was referring patients to acupuncture as far back as the ’80s, when the practice was just emerging in the United States.
Although acupuncture is often perceived as specialized care, this is certainly not the case in China, where the practice originates from. Acupuncture is used in China for all kinds of ailments, from aches and pains, to acute injuries, to emotional distress. Fusing the vision of community health care Sarah witnessed growing up, with the Chinese practice of having acupuncture available within arms reach, Mend was born.
Mend’s One on One Clinic has been in practice for over ten years (previously Seeds Wellness), with most patients able to use their health insurance for acupuncture treatments. By opening up their doors for walk-in acupuncture, and developing relationships with primary care physicians, Mend is helping to bring the practice to the masses. Which has meant a lot of bodies in the door, and the current space just can’t house the demand. This is one of the central reasons why Mend is expanding to Remington.
We sat down with O’Leary and Kim Hennessee (Mend’s Education Director) to find out more about their expansion plans.

What’s happening with Mend?

The One on One Clinic (currently above Cafe Hon) will be moving to the Remington location. Mend has simply outgrown its Hampden location because of the higher demand for acupuncture services.
Mend will be a One on One Clinic clinic in Remington with community clinics in both the Remington and Hampden locations.

Why Remington?

Just as Hampden exploded in popularity in the last ten years, Remington is gearing up for the same potential.
“Remington Row invites a main street experience with many Baltimore based business concentrated within a few block radius. When the opportunity arose to expand into Remington we jumped on it; the development project is a significant benefit to the community and we are proud to be a part of this historical and economical shift,” says O’Leary of the choice to expand to R
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-30-01-pmMend’s new digs at Remington Row (2700 Remington Avenue) has a lot of great benefits.
Mend will enjoy a first floor, walk-in from the street location in a brand new building that is LEED certified. The construction is being done by Seawall, whose vision of a better Baltimore is another huge positive. Because the building is new, patients will enjoy plenty of free parking in the building’s underground garage and handicap access.
Just above Mend, the Wyman Park branch of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians clinic hasmoved into the space. O’Leary and Mend’s outreach team have worked hard over the years to develop relationships with primary care providers in order to include acupuncture in the integrative care model that many physicians are becoming more open to. The close proximity to a Hopkins clinic will be a wonderful opportunity for patients to get a variety of health care needs met in one location. At a time when healthcare has gotten really complicated, acupuncture breathes simplicity into getting treatment for a wide variety of conditions.
Plus, right down the street will be R.House, a paradise of food and drink stalls, perfect for a post-treatment lunch.

What about the Hampden locations?

Don’t fret! The community clinic in Hampden is staying put. The One on One clinic will be moving and adding a 2nd community clinic in Remington. This make it the first Hybrid Acupuncture Clinic in Maryland.

Can I still make appointments with my favorite acupuncturist?

Of course! The staff isn’t changing, only the location. Mend is also bringing in resident therapists such as massage, mental health and nutrition guidance during off-clinic hours.

Will the hours be the same? What about the drop-in clinic?

Once the new space opens, the Drop-in Community Clinic will be open half the week in Remington and half the week in Hampden so patients can drop-in at one of the clinics seven days a week. The one-to-one clinic is by appointment.

When does the new location open?

The One on One Clinic opens mid-October and the community clinic will be ready for drop-ins starting in November. *Schedule your One on One appointments as usual. Move date estimated to be Oct 16. We’ll call to confirm location that week!

What about parking?

Parking is one of the reasons we picked Remington Row. Patients will enjoy plenty of free parking in the building’s underground garage and handicap access.

We Can’t Wait to Show you Around!

written by Gwen Van Velsor

I didn’t have anxiety, anxiety had me

HiResCo-written by local food blogger and writer Gwen Van Velsor and Sarah O’Leary, L.Ac. & Kim Hennessee, L.Ac.

Rolling up my mat at the end of a very sweaty Bikram yoga session, my heart still beating fast, I couldn’t catch my breath. From the moment I’d offered the instructor a hurried “namaste,” my brain had hit full tilt-a-whirl with all the tasks for the day ahead, all the tasks I’d failed to do yesterday, and the current drama that was my love life. It didn’t help that I hadn’t slept soundly in weeks, fueled my caffeine addiction like a fiend and considered sweet potato chips dinner. Before leaning into a full on panic attack, I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing.

I didn’t have anxiety, anxiety had me

Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways. Usually characterized by feelings of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear, anxiety can send us into a tailspin of worry and stress. These feelings can consume our brains, our bodies and our very breath without treatment.

The difference between anxiety and/or depression that is managed is that you can experience the feelings of either, but know that they are not forever. When it “has you” you can feel buried in the experience. You may feel rather removed from what it feels like to be happy, content or calm. For some of us, using medication for a period of time to help lift the ‘heavy load’ that we can’t seem to budge on our own is necessary and extremely helpful.

For some, medication is a good choice. It may not be true for all that if you: eat right, exercise, avoid caffeine, and live a healthy lifestyle, your anxiety or depression will go away. And while anxiety is sensitive to stress, stress is not necessarily always the root. Avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it.

It is not uncommon for even those who feel their anxiety and depression is mostly managed with medication to still experience bouts of anxiety or depression. While some of the anxiety or depression will be lifted, those feelings won’t be “cured” with medication. When feelings of discomfort still arise it can feel disappointing or even scary: “is IT coming back?”. This is when we encourage folks to reach into their tool belt to look for ways to be in their experience with less suffering: getting outside, exercise, or acupuncture.

How acupuncture helps

Studies are showing that acupuncture has antidepressant effects and in some cases, is just as effective as medication. Acupuncture stimulates the the production of certain opioids that the affect the nervous system. In the opposite way that stress activates the nervous system, acupuncture stimulates the relaxation response thereby allowing your body to naturally self regulate. Additionally acupuncture has been shown to relieve some of the side effects, namely loss of libido, from taking SSRI’s which are commonly used to treat anxiety and depression.

By considering the unique needs of each patient, acupuncturists seeks to identify the imbalances that may be causing the anxiety, versus treating just the symptoms themselves. Your acupuncturist will take time to learn about your unique story and work to get you out of the extreme feelings anxiety brings about and toward a state of more balance.

We’ve added therapy to our community

When anxiety and depression “have us,” we can turn to our tool belt of resources, including “talk therapy,” or cognitive behavior therapy. Many studies point to the long-term effectiveness of therapy, which can be just as effective as medication, for the treatment of anxiety.

Here at Mend we want to give you as many tools as possible to combat the anxiety or depression that is holding you down. Sarah, Mend’s founder, was a social worker before becoming an acupuncturist. She also grew up with a therapist for a mom. She’s simply a fan of talk therapy and enjoys an open door relationship with a therapist herself.

We are thrilled to partner with two wonderful Baltimore based therapists Erin Mannion, LCSW-C and Rebecca Burrett, LCSW-C. They offer their services in our One on One Clinic weekly.

A combination of resources

Anxiety is complicated. What works for one person may not work for another. Join us in taking a holistic approach to your wellness by giving acupuncture a try for your anxiety symptoms. We also wholeheartedly encourage you to address anxiety by partnering treatment with therapy, exercise, medication, meditation, or whatever other methods you have gathered in your toolbelt.


(This time BREATHE).

Yang, Liu, Na Yue, Xiaocang Zhua, Qiuqin Hana, Bin Lia, Qiong Liu, Gencheng Wu, and Jin Yu. “Electroacupuncture promotes proliferation of amplifying neural progenitors and preserves quiescent neural progenitors from apoptosis to alleviate depressive-like and anxiety-like behaviours.”

Arranz, Lorena et al., Impairment of several immune functions in anxious women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research , 2007, Volume 62 , Issue 1 , 1 – 8

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Myth-Conceptions,” or Common Fabrications, Fibs, and Folklore About Anxiety, 2016

Here’s Why Cupping Is All The Rage—And Why You Should Jump On The Bandwagon

You’ve seen lots of talk about cupping this week. And perhaps this summer, you saw this new ad from Under Armour featuring our (now 24-time) Olympic-medal winner Michael Phelps. If you pay close attention starting 44 seconds into the video, you’ll see Phelps getting cupping.

Cupping is a Chinese medicine technique that has been used for centuries for many different conditions. Acupuncturists commonly use cupping as an adjunct therapy to acupuncture. For people with needle fears, cupping on its own can offer a great alternative treatment.

Phelps isn’t the only famous person to discover the benefits of cupping. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have been photographed with distinctive cupping marks on their backs and shoulders. What was once a mysterious, almost scary-looking treatment in the West is now hitting the mainstream due to its numerous health benefits.

What is cupping?

To perform cupping, acupuncturists place glass, bamboo, or silicone cups on the skin, creating a vacuum-like seal. There are different techniques for creating this vacuum, including lighting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball inside the cup or attaching suction pumps to the end of the cups.

When the cups are placed on the skin, the superficial muscle layer is drawn up into the cup, which stimulates the circulation of blood, breaks up adhesions, and creates a pathway for toxins to be drawn out of the body through the lymphatic system. Cupping can affect tissues up to four inches deep—impacting blood vessels, fascia, muscles, and scar tissue.

More and more, cupping is showing up in physical therapy and massage offices as well, under a different name—myofascial decompression (MFD). MFD is essentially the same thing as cupping, and it is being used in the Olympic games for pre and post-workout recovery and detoxification.

Cupping decompresses adhesions and scar tissue, relaxes muscles in spasm, decreases trigger-point pain, and decreases tissue changes and inflammation following trauma. Cumulative treatments increase muscle endurance, circulation, and lymphatic drainage. They enhance athletes’ overall ability to recover from workouts and strenuous activity. No wonder Phelps is using it!

Where do the cups go?

Most pictures of cupping show it being done on the back, and that is a common place to receive cupping. However, cupping can be done on any part of the body where there’s enough skin to support the cups. (See below for a list of conditions that cupping can help with.)

There are two types of popular cupping techniques, stationary and gliding cups. Stationary cups are where one or several cups are placed in the treatment zone for 5-10 minutes. Gliding cups are when a topical ointment or liniment is placed on the skin and then the cups are gently moved across the skin, usually along meridians or fascia/muscle planes. I like to use Tiger Balm—not the kind you buy at CVS, the real stuff!—with gliding cups on tight and sore muscles.

What does cupping feel like?

Judging from the marks cupping leaves on the skin, you would think it would be a painful experience. Quite the opposite! Cupping is usually very pleasant, like a unique form of massage.

Cupping is different from massage in that with massage, the tissues are pressed, whereas cupping is the opposite—the tissues are pulled up. Cupping feels like a gentle suction is pulling away tension from tight and painful areas of the body.

Why does cupping leave marks on the skin?

Depending on the amount of suction and the state of the underlying tissues, cupping can leave circular marks on the skin that range from a light yellow to pinkish red to dark purple. From an acupuncture perspective, the darker the marks, the more stagnation of qi and blood in that area. Stagnation leads to pain and dysfunction within tissues, so cupping—like acupuncture—aims to clear the stagnation before it causes problems.

From a Western standpoint, cupping creates more space between the tissue layers to get rid of dead cellular debris and excess fluids and toxins. It also breaks up scar tissue. The marks, then, are caused by this debris being pulled up and deposited under the skin, which is actually the most effective place for the lymphatic system to drain it away.

What are the benefits of cupping?

To recap, here are the benefits of cupping:

  • Stimulates whole-body relaxation response (parasympathetic response)
  • Stimulates oxygenation and detoxification of blood while promoting a feeling of lightness and tension relief
  • Detoxifies metabolic debris in muscle tissue, fascia, and skin
  • Increases range of motion, breaks up adhesions, and promotes healing in scar tissue and chronic injury sites
  • Increases lymphatic drainage and promotes circulation
  • Given these benefits, here are some of the conditions for which cupping can be really helpful:
  • Tight and stiff muscles
  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome and IT band pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Migraines
  • Respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis
  • Anxiety, depression, and stress
  • High blood pressure (by calming the nervous system)
  • Cellulite

Are there any cautions to be aware of with cupping?

As I mentioned, cupping can leave marks on your skin. It may take a few days to a week to fade completely. This is important to remember if you have a wedding or special event to attend!

Keep the area where you received cupping covered from extreme changes in temperature (for example, a hot sauna or cold air conditioning) immediately after treatment. Cupping opens your pores, making you more susceptible to catching a cold.

Do not receive cupping on the low abdomen or low back if you are pregnant.

Do not receive cupping on areas where you have thin or damaged skin, or if you are taking blood thinners.

Interested in trying cupping for yourself?

Schedule a One on One session and enjoy cupping as part of your acupuncture visit.
*Private sessions can include a variety of added modalities to the acupuncture therapy including cupping, gua sha, moxa heat therapy and lifestyle and dietary counseling as needed.


By Julia Sanfilippo, originally posted on AcuTake
Author Julia Sanfilippo is a licensed acupuncturist by the California Acupuncture Board and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is a certified massage therapist by the National Certification of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, a certified ART™ (Active Release Techniques) Total Body Provider, and a registered yoga teacher. She was voted Best Acupuncture and Best Massage by La Jolla Village News in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Julia ran her first one-mile race when she was three years old, and she swam competitively for 13 years. She has a fundamental connection to the physical body and a great appreciation for overall health. Her mission is to empower her patients to create a lifestyle and wellness program that promotes the healthiest version of themselves.