While acupuncture stands alone as a wonderfully safe and effective treatment option, many patients may find additional benefits by incorporating some of the self care ideas described on this page. These recommendations come from varied healing traditions and are quite compatible with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Please ask at your next appointment if you have any questions!
Prevention of Viral Illnesses & Self-Care Advice
From the International College of Integrative Medicine (
• Eat clean food (fresh, local, mostly produce, free of preservatives, dyes, additives and pesticides) – lots of fruits and vegetables, and also nuts and
• Drink clean water (filtered, not from a plastic bottle).
• Exercise most days of the week. (30 min to target heart rate 5 days per week)
• Sleep soundly 7-8 hours per night.
• Spend time daily in gratitude, prayer, and meditation.
• Consider daily saline lavage of mucus membranes (neti pot).
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick. (14 days quarantine after known COVID-19 infection)
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Pay attention to instructions. Some
cleaners require 10 MINUTES of contact time for disinfection to occur.
• Follow CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recommendations for using a face mask. Currently, the CDC recommends that everyone
wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have fever or symptoms of COVID-19. This is because of evidence
that people with COVID-19 can spread the disease, even when they don’t have any symptoms. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young
children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare
The physicians of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service and the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine urge a nutrient-based method
to prevent or minimize symptoms for future viral infection. The following inexpensive supplemental levels are recommended for adults; for children
reduce these in proportion to body weight:
1. Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (or more) daily, in divided doses.
2. Vitamin D3: 2,000 International Units daily. (Start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000)
3. Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate, or chloride form)
4. Zinc: 20 mg daily
5. Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily
Allergies & Sinusitis
Self massage can provide much needed relief when you are having sinus issues. Below are a few video links that demonstrate self massage to clear sinus pressure.
Lung Health in Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, there are a variety of approaches that help support lung health. Supporting the lung on all levels, not just the physical, can have tremendous benefits for your overall health.
This is an excellent article on foods to favor and ones to avoid when your sinuses are giving you trouble.
Lung 9 is a point on your wrist that is good for cough and can be stimulated with acupressure. Use pleasantly strong, steady pressure for about 3 minutes on each side and repeat throughout the day as needed.
Anxiety and Depression
Bach Flower Remedies
To support emotional balance and healing, take a look at a homeopathic line called Bach Flower Remedies to see if there are any that seem relevant for you. Purchase one or a few to use together (I recommend combining no more than 4 or 5 at a time). Dr. Bach's "Rescue Remedy" is a premixed formula that's good for general stress relief, but not personally tailored to your specific needs.
Even a 5-10 minute daily meditation practice can make a big difference in stress, anxiety, and depression. It can be as easy as sitting and paying attention to how your body feels as you breath. I find guided meditations helpful and can sometimes be easier to take on. Many guided meditations are available online. Tara Brach is one teacher I like a lot and she has some great meditations on her website:
Most cities have group meditations and classes available for people to learn and practice meditation. An internet search should easily help you find a teacher or group in your area.
Books are also a great place to start learning about mediation. Two of my favorite books on meditation are Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield.
Having someone to talk to is sometimes what we need to feel better, and a professional therapist can help guide you on this path. The frequency and duration of therapy can vary greatly based on the issues you are facing, but whether short term or long term, many people respond positively and see major benefits from therapy.
Arnica Montana is a homeopathic remedy used for pain, swelling, bruising, arthritis, and injuries. It is available as an oral dose, but I usually recommend trying the topical (gel/cream/ointment) first. Arnicare brand can often be found with other pain topicals in the pharmacy section of most major stores. It's great to have in your medicine cabinet--useful for pain related to overuse or trauma and helps bruises to heal more quickly and completely.
This mineral supports healthy muscle and nerve function, brain function, energy production, restful sleep, and a host of biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium can be helpful in relaxing muscles and decreasing both body and headache pains. It is useful for reducing muscle spasms and twitches. We get some magnesium through the foods we eat, but most people are getting less than they need.
If you'd like to boost your magnesium, you might begin with an oral supplement, a topical application, or both. There are many types of magnesium, but some are better (more readily absorbed by the body) than others. I recommend one of the following--magnesium glycinate, magnesium aspartate, or magnesium l-threonate/magtein. You probably won't find these in the local pharmacy but they are easy to order from Amazon or Lucky Vitamins.
This article does a good job of describing some of the different types of magnesium
For topical application try magnesium oil, which isn't actually an oil but magnesium chloride dissolved into water that ends up having a slippery, oily feel. It's applied to the skin directly onto areas of pain then rubbed in. Expect to notice a slight stinging/itching/burning sensation for about 10-20 minutes after application, very common and usually subsides if you begin using magnesium oil regularly. Available for purchase from Rainbow Blossom or Whole Foods or you can make your own with a 50-50 mix of Epsom salt and water. Mix in a spray bottle for easy use. Or try an epsom salt soak in warm/hot water!
Po Sum On & Dr. Bob’s Medicated Oil
There are two oils that I love which are variations on the same formula so they smell and work the same. They are great for any kind of musculoskeletal pain and are perfect for use with massage or gua sha. I also like them on the forehead and neck for headache--watch out for fumes getting in your eyes, though. And they are nice on the chest for a stuffy nose! Here are links for both oils on Amazon.
Fermented foods (miso, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, keifer) are great for gut health! When the gut is happy, the whole body (and mind!) is happy. Eat more cooked and warm foods than raw or cold, especially for breakfast and in the winter. Larger meals early in the day and smaller meals at night.
Limit dairy, sugar, spicy foods, fried foods, and alcohol. Eat more foods that are bitter, sour, or pungent. This website provides examples of foods in those taste categories.
For acid reflux, chew or just swallow a small amount--maybe 1/4 to 1/2 tsp--of (organic) grated lemon rind before bed.
Water! Gulp down a big glass of water within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. According to TCM, the large intestine is most active from 5-7am so a flush of water around this time can really help to get things moving when you are constipated or digestion is running a little slow
Ginger is a fantastic stomach settler for when you feel nauseous. There are several options for ginger tea at the grocery in tea bag form or you can just add thin slices of fresh ginger to boiling water. You might add a bit of lemon and/or honey to taste. I recommend drinking this throughout the day or as needed. You can have it hot or make a larger batch to keep as iced tea in the fridge.
Many people benefit from daily or occasional use of probiotics or digestive enzymes. These are easily purchased at any drugstore, grocery or online.
Headache & Migraine
This delicious remedy is absolutely worth a try if you suffer from migraines. At the onset of symptoms, mix 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of powdered ginger into water and drink it down. Easy, safe, effective!
Large Intestine 4 is a point on your hand that can be stimulated with acupressure to relieve headache and migraine. Use pleasantly strong, steady pressure for about 3 minutes on each side and repeat throughout the day as needed.
Magnesium is another safe, effective, and natural way to help alleviate headache pain. For more information, scroll back to the Body Pain section of this webpage, or click here.
This is an easy trick you can try with things you may already have on hand. The idea here is that stress hormones that become active at night, waking us up, can be soothed by a tiny taste of sugar and salt.
5 Tbsp organic cane sugar
2-3 tsp sea salt (Himalayan pink or another natural salt would work as well)
Mix well and keep by the bed. Take a small scoop (or lick your finger and dip it in) when you get into bed. Take a little more if you wake
during the night.
Another option that can be helpful with sleep is a homeopathic remedy called "Rescue Sleep" or "Rescue Night" which is part of the Dr. Bach product line.
Melatonin is a safe, natural and non-habit forming supplement you can take to help with sleep, and can be found in most drug stores and supermarkets. Be sure to read the bottle for specific directions on dosage and timing.
Here's a link to an article with a variety of information and ideas for you to try from acupuncturists all over the country. Feel free to try what speaks to you and leave the rest for someone else.
Colloidal silver is a clear, tasteless liquid that can be used both externally or internally. Externally, it can be applied to the skin for wound healing. Internally, it can support immunity. It is easy to find online, and may be available at many traditional or natural grocery stores.
This is a Chinese herbal formula with various dermatological and gynecological uses. Ask at your next appointment if it might be helpful for you.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is good for inflamed skin or scalp. You might want to dilute it with a carrier oil or just dab on sparingly (a Q-tip or cotton ball will work great). If your scalp runs a little on the dry side, put 50 drops or so of tea tree oil into your shampoo bottle for preventative dandruff care.
It might sound crazy, but I have had several friends quit smoking by using the book "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" by Allen Carr. The general idea is the book tries to help you see cigarettes and the act of smoking in a new way. You may be able to find a copy at your local library or bookstore, and, of course, is available for purchase online.