Chinese Medicine

Easing the Passage: Supporting Tweens with Chinese Medicine


Adolescence is a time of great change and challenge. Adolescents experience rapid physical changes and strong emotional states. The rapid changes can create a feeling of unease in one’s body, particularly if one’s body doesn’t fit dominant gender and racial standards of beauty.

Acupuncture and other physical therapies can help reconnect adolescents to their body and restore a sense of safety within themselves. Chinese Medicine can provide insight into this stage of life and help to restore balance.

Chinese Medicine associates each season with specific organ systems and attributes. Adolescence is reflected by the attributes of Spring time. There is new plant growth, change and unpredictable weather.

In Chinese Medicine, the Spring is associated with the wood element and the organs liver and gallbladder. When healthy, the Liver and Gallbladder support clarity in judgment and confident decision making. They are also responsible for hormonal regulation, healthy joints and vision. A healthy wood element is best represented by bamboo. Bamboo is strong yet flexible and thrives in a wide variety of environments. When the wood element is out of balance there can be resistance to change, frustration, depression and physical symptoms such as headaches, joint problems, depression, irritability, menstrual disturbances and insomnia.

At Union Center for Healing, we provide care for all stages of life. For adolescents, we offer treatments that can ease the passage between childhood and adulthood. We are an inclusive center that serves the needs of all communities and values the uniqueness of each individual.

For tweens, we offer a special welcome package on their first visit. It includes a journal that can be used to write down their feelings and keep track of their symptoms. We also give our tweens a clearing spray formulated by energetic healer and herbalist Suzanne Ragan Lentz. This spray can be used in their room to clear energy and focus the mind. We provide customized dietary and lifestyle recommendations based on the principles of Chinese Medicine. If you know a tween who could benefit, you can contact us at

by Vickie Summerquist, LAC, LMP

Treating Headaches


I see a lot of people who suffer from headaches in my practice. I also see a lot of people who find great relief from their headaches with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Headaches are one of my favorite ailments to treat because it is very satisfying to witness someone’s headaches improve and even disappear completely during one appointment. Anyone who has ever suffered from migraines or any type of headache knows that your quality of life improves when your headaches go away.

In Western medicine, there are different categories of headaches, such as tension headaches, migraines, or cluster headaches.

In Chinese medicine, we pay attention to these diagnoses, but also have our own assessment of headaches based on where the energy is blocked, and to what severity. We look at which acupuncture channels are affected.

For example, headaches located in the:

  • temporal region, or side of the head, correspond to the Gallbladder or Triple Burner channel.
  • frontal area, or frontal sinus, corresponds to the Stomach or Large Intestine channel as this channel runs through that area.
  • occipital area or base of the skull and upper neck, correspond to the Urinary Bladder channel.

It is helpful to think about which organ systems or channels run through the areas where there is pain, as often this pain can be alleviated by unblocking stuck energy in these areas.

When treating headaches, I listen to my patients’ experience to get a sense of what triggers their headaches. Some triggers include menstruation, or other hormonal fluctuations, and factors related to the weather. For some patients, headaches started with a concussion years prior or some other sort of trauma or blockage. For headaches triggered by stress, there are many ways acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to decrease stress and assist the body’s natural ability to rest and repair itself.

I am interested in the full spectrum of care from treating the headache itself to getting to the root of what is causing those headaches and then working on a plan to help prevent them from recurring in the future. Different treatments work for different people. Sometimes I’ll insert acupuncture needles at the location of the headache itself and at other times at points far from that area. I enjoy the detective work involved with being an acupuncturist.

If you or someone you know suffers from headaches, consider trying acupuncture to alleviate pain and more deeply understand your headache triggers.

Author: Samara White, LAc, EAMP, LMP

Tips to Ease Your Transition to Summer


Chinese medicine is based on Taoism, a philosophy based on the observation of nature. As humans, we are at Mother Nature’s mercy, particularly the cycle of the seasons. We are at our best health and vitality when we flow with these cycles, as Taoists have done for thousands of years.

We typically think of four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Another major Chinese medical paradigm is the Theory of the 5 Elements, which are associated with the seasons. Summer is Fire, Fall is Metal, Winter is Water and Spring is Wood.

Chinese medicine recognizes one additional season, the “doyo,” or the season between the seasons, related to the element Earth. The doyo occurs in the Spring and late Summer/early Fall, when temperature and weather are fluctuating before completely turning to the next season. This is a common time for people to fall ill.

With the solstice on June 22, we officially enter Summer, our brightest time of year, both physically and emotionally. In Chinese medicine, Summer is associated with the element Fire, the color red, the bitter flavor (including leafy greens, coffee, and chocolate), the Heart, Pericardium and Small Intestine organ meridian systems and with embracing our dreams, joyful emotions, creativity, passion and love, even our sexuality.

The Pacific Northwest is heavily affected by the seasons, especially by the waxing and waning of the light. Some might even call our seasonal light extremes “bipolar” or manic depressive.

Summer is the joyful, sometimes manic, season, when the sun hits us and inspires our passion and creativity. The Fremont Summer Solstice parade is a perfect example of this energy! Channel this energy into healthy activities while enjoying our long days by playing outside, outdoor sports, travelling, cooking, barbecues, outdoor festivals and concerts, and creating art.

Common Summer ailments include rashes and constipation due to heat, halitosis (bad breath), seasonal allergies, insomnia — often due to our long PNW summer days, mania, anxiety, or despair.

Through Union Center for Healing, we have Chinese herbal formulas available for all of these conditions, as well as, for traveling as Summer is a popular time for long vacations.

Coconut and aloe are excellent cooling foods and topical treatments for hot conditions, like rashes, constipation and sunburn. Staying hydrated with plenty of healthy fluids like water and herbal teas can help treat or prevent halitosis.

In Summer, I make a cold herbal tea of rooibos, rosehips, and hibiscus, sweetened with local honey. You can find these in bulk in the herb and spice departments of PCC and Central Coop. Mint tea can be especially refreshing during the Summer months. Peppermint is more cooling, while spearmint is more warming.

Raw and cold foods are better tolerated in Summer, so dig in to those salads and cooling fresh fruit smoothies. As with everything, moderation is key as too much raw food and fruit can weaken digestion.

My Favorite Smoothie Recipe
1 Cups non dairy milk (coconut, almond, rice, hemp)
1 banana or ½ avocado
½ Cup fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, etc…)
½ Cup fresh greens (optional)
½ inch of ginger root, peeled (optional, especially if have weak digestion or run cold)

Add some supplements, such as protein powder, flax seed oil, bee pollen, powdered greens, and other powdered supplements like probiotics and maca root. I like to open the capsules and pour in the powder of some of my benign tasting supplements.

Holly C. Berman, EAMP, MSOM