The most common cause of Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) pain is from grinding and clenching the teeth. This occurs mostly when sleeping or during stressful moments in the day. Other causes can be from arthritis, overuse, injury, and structural issues. One of the most popular treatments is a mouth guard from the dentist that protects the enamel of your teeth. With constant grinding and clenching, the tooth itself can wear quickly leading to tooth loss and nerve damage. As for clenching our teeth when stressed, our brain gets a feeling of satisfaction from feeling the two layers of teeth together. This is a self-soothing behavior that unfortunately damages our teeth. The mouth guard places a layer of material between the teeth so that brain cannot get that stress relief it is looking for. Over time, our brain will find another outlet. Other forms of treatment may involve antidepressants, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories or anti-depressants. (Dimitroulis, 2018)
Symptoms of TMJ
If you suffer from this, you know about the headaches, neck pain, and loss of function. TMJ Syndrome effects muscles of the skull and neck such as the temporalis, masseters, pterygoid group, sternocleidomastoid, scalene, splenius group and the occipitals. The referral pain from these muscles can lead to various types of headaches, neck pain, muscle stiffness, clicking and popping of the jaw, tinnitus (ear ringing), mock sinus infections, dizziness, and blurred vision. (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research).
How Massage Helps
As a licensed massage therapist, I will work with the muscles related to the jaw from multiple angles to address the pain and dysfunction from the tight muscles related to the temporomandibular joint. I may even put on gloves and go inside the mouth to address tight bands of fiber and trigger points in the smaller muscles directly related to the movement of the jaw. This 30–60-minute massage may also entail working on local muscles of the face and scalp, as well as the neck and shoulders to address all associated musculature and referral pain patterns. (Flagg, 2009). Massage can also support various treatments by communicating with your medical team for an integrative approach. In my treatment room I treat the patient, not just the symptom, so each appointment will begin with a thorough intake to provide an individualized treatment plan.
I Feel Your Pain
Patients are always asking me “Can you feel it?”. My answer is usually “If you are feeling it, so am I”. This is because I feel with my hands, and then react to what is under them and what a patient’s body is communicating from a particular technique. In this case, I also have a particular empathy as I understand what this type of pain syndrome feels like. Not only am I prone to clenching and have been wearing a mouth guard for years, but I also suffered from a traumatic injury to the jaw dislocating it from the joint. Being a patient myself, I have a deeper compassion and understanding as I work with those seeking relief.
Natural Care Center (NCC)
Looking to see a Massage Therapist at the Natural Care Center? Therapeutic or medical massage employs a variety of modalities in order to address underlying conditions, injuries, pain, or stress. Techniques such as lymphatic drainage, shiatsu, deep tissue, and other focused treatments are used to achieve specific goals set by the patient and massage therapist.
During your first visit at the NCC, your massage therapist will review relevant information and formulate massage sessions that target to your specific needs. To talk with someone about making an appointment, call 443-906-5794 or email .
Dimitroulis, G. Management of temporomandibular joint disorders: A surgeon’s perspective. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12593) Australian Dental Journal. 2018;63 Suppl 1:S79-S90.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders. (https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmj) Accessed 4/23/22.
Flagg, Retta. (2009). Massage for TMJ Syndrome (live).
Nutritional science typically explores the effect nutrients, foods, and eating patterns have on human biochemistry and health. But what about how we eat? In this post, I will explore the practice of mindful eating and its researched effects on health and psychology.
Mindful Eating vs. Mindless Eating
To understand what mindful eating is and how it works, it is helpful to understand its opposite behavior. We can categorize a very common way of eating as mindless eating. This occurs when we are not aware of our experience of eating. There are many factors that can induce mindless eating such as stress, difficulty regulating emotions, being distracted while eating, or eating too quickly. Social situations, culture, and familial conditioning also play a role in how mindfully we eat (Wansink, 2010). Food choices can become more challenging when we haven’t eaten all day which means it is easier to eat mindlessly.
What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating happens when we are fully aware of the experience of eating. It includes noticing the flavor, satisfaction, smell and feel of food being eaten. When eating mindfully, one can notice internal states such as hunger level, satiety, and physical fullness (Kristeller et al., 2014). There tends to be self-reports of increased pleasure and satisfaction from food with the practice of mindful eating (Kristeller et al., 2014). Mindful eating can happen naturally, but its occurrence can be limited by learned eating habits, emotional states, and distractions (Wansink, 2010). Cultivating mindful eating as a new habit can occur with the support of training and practice. The Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) is a studied approach to eating mindfully. This training is a non-dieting approach to eating that teaches participants to become aware of the complexity, choices, and experiences that occur while eating (Kristeller et al., 2014).
Researched Effects of MB-EAT
Several studies have been conducted exploring the effects of MB-EAT. Kristeller & Hallett (1999) performed a single-group, extended baseline follow-up design that included 18 participants, most of whom were obese middle-aged women with binge-eating disorder (BED). After MB-EAT intervention, binge episodes decreased from 4 per week to 1.5. Measures of depression and binge severity also decreased. In a randomized clinical trial, 194 adults with obesity were randomly placed into a 5.5 month program that either included MB-EAT or did not include MB-EAT (Daubenmier et al., 2016). While there were no substantial differences in weight loss between the groups, cardiometabolic markers such as fasting glucose and lipids were improved in the treatment group receiving MB-EAT.
Please note that this post is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional care by a physician or other qualified medical professionals. It is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you are interested in nutritional support, consider reaching out to the Natural Care Center for consultations by calling 443-906-9754 or emailing
Natural Care Center (NCC)
Looking to see a Nutritionist at the Natural Care Center to meet your nutritional needs? Integrative nutritionists use science-based diet and nutrition therapies to support your personal health and well-being. They recognize that individualized nutrition is essential to health and their integrative approach is not limited to one dietary theory. And for more than 40 years, the Natural Care Center at Maryland University of Integrative Health, which includes our student teaching clinic and professional practitioners, has provided powerful, meaningful, and effective healing experiences for patients and clients that arrive with a wide array of health challenges.
During your first visit at the NCC, your practitioner will gather information about your health and personal history, review your dietary preferences and health concerns, and assess your nutritional status. Together with your nutritionist, you will craft a personalized nutrition plan to start you on your path to greater health and vitality.To talk with someone about making an appointment, call 443-906-5794 or email .
Daubenmier, J., Moran, P. J., Kristeller, J., Acree, M., Bacchetti, P., Kemeny, M. E., … & Hecht, F. M. (2016). Effects of a mindfulness‐based weight loss intervention in adults with obesity: A randomized clinical trial. Obesity, 24(4), 794-804.
Kristeller, J. L., & Hallett, C. B. (1999). An exploratory study of a meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder. Journal of Health Psychology. 4(3), 357-363.
Kristeller, J., Wolever, R. Q., & Sheets, V. (2014). Mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT) for binge eating: A randomized clinical trial. Mindfulness, 5(3), 282-297.
Wansink, B. (2010). From mindless eating to mindlessly eating better. Physiology & behavior, 100(5), 454-463.
Legal Love Tip™: Copying your friend’s legal document could make it worse.
Here are 3 reasons why:
It may not even fully cover you.
If your friend cut and pasted the wrong language from the internet or used someone else’s document, you could be exposed.
You could be getting a chopped up, piecemeal document (that neither you nor they know is piecemeal).
You could use a document that doesn’t even apply to you.
You could copy someone else’s legal document and make it worse than not having one at all.
One health coach client came to me to have me review her Client Agreement… only it was a template she got off the internet for a CONSTRUCTION company. She had no idea it was full of language that made no sense for a health coach and that could hurt her. I kid you not.
Even if a document was initially prepared by a lawyer, I can’t tell you how many times people try to edit their own legal documents and make mistakes.
Both of you could end up using legal language that doesn’t sufficiently cover either of you which can leave you open to giving refunds or dealing with conflicts and confrontation from clients or other people.
It could be a violation.
Unbeknownst to you, copying a friend’s document is actually taking (some might say “stealing”) work that someone else paid for.
You might be violating their copyright rights. You might be using the document without permission.
Even if they say “it’s okay” to copy their document, it might not be okay. They could be violating copyright laws by giving it to you. Don’t put them or yourself in that position.
It can be bad karma.
Copying someone else’s work probably isn’t truly in alignment with your core values and the type of person you want to be.
It can be bad juju. It can be low-vibe.
It’s not showing respect for your work or business or for other people’s work or business.
Did you know that when you put legit contracts and terms in place, you support your sacral chakra?
Your sacral chakra is your 2nd chakra down in your hip region “where all of the good stuff lives”, as I like to say. When you use high vibe (not copied!) legal documents, you’re aligning yourself with expansiveness, abundance, and boundaries associated with the sacral chakra.
You’re showing respect for your business – and as you do so, other people will tend to show your business trust and respect too.
Here’s to taking the time to get the right legal documents and legal tips for integrative health professionals for YOUR business by doing it right and honoring yourself and your biz – and not copying others’ docs.
P.S. Hear more about these reasons and also receive 3 tips for choosing the right documents for you in this previously-aired Legally Enlightened Podcast EpisodeHERE. And if you need help with getting legal docs for your biz, just hit reply and let us know. We’re always happy to help or to refer you to another attorney who can help you.
Easy legal steps for entrepreneurs and small business owners – with lots of Legal Love™. Get free legal tips, DIY legal templates and online legal courses atlisafraley.com.
Legal Tips for Integrative Health Professionals
*Affiliate Disclosure: MUIH receives a referral commission on all purchases made through the MUIH partner link with the exclusive MUIH partner discount. There is no additional cost to you by using this link, and your generous support allows us to offer more Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) programming in the future.
by Dr. Oscar Coetzee – Associate Professor/Clinician/Researcher
What is Sports Nutrition?
Nutrition is one of the fastest growing professions in the world according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. It will grow as a profession between 15% – 22% in the next five years, and it is estimated due to the chronic illness in the USA, the demand will outweigh the supply. The integration of the Functional Medical Paradigm all over the world in education, is setting nutritional professionals apart from any other medical specialty, as the true success of functional medicine lies in the nutritional intervention and lifestyle modifications. Thus, many subspecialities are forming in nutrition, and the one still on the outside looking in, is sports nutrition.
The Importance of Sports Nutrition
Every aspect of sport performance enhancement today is at the highest level through the evolution of computer science and high-level biomedical research. Yet, in sports nutrition it is still about macros and calories, and pretty much a one size fits all approach. Some diets like Carbohydrate loading, Ketogenic or Paleolithic and certain nutraceuticals are highly touted for sports performance, but none of these have been truly investigated through proper research in the scientific literature. Bio-individuality seems to be left out when it comes to sports nutrition specifically. Various electrolytes, antioxidants, fatty acids and branched chain amino acids are frequently promoted as the all-encompassing nutrients for top athletes. But are they? Is it possible that for one athlete a specific amino acid or antioxidant can be a friend and for another a foe? As a part of my practice, I have worked with professional athletes for more than 15 years. I have sculpted my assessments and interventions through trial and error and created a new area of sports performance that I term Psychonutrigenomics. In collaboration with Diagnostic Lab Solutions, my team and I have been able to take sports performance, sports nutrition and sports immunity to a level of total athletic individuality. Through the implementation of this approach, we have had various international victories and successes, taking our athletes to the peak of individual achievement.
It is time that we march to a different drummer, time to truly evolve the field of sports nutrition and performance by integrating the individual assessments of metabolic, physical, genetic, biochemical and psychological markers. As an example, mental clarity and anxiety control can come from proper nutrient absorption through the conversion of amino acids like tryptophan and tyrosine. They convert into neurotransmitters (NT) serotonin and dopamine, which in turn convert into some catecholamines like epinephrine and norepinephrine. These NT and catecholamines have everything to do with focus, motivation, concentration and athletic performance and they require iron, vit. C and B6, and SAMe. These micronutrients can only be obtained through food and supplementation, of which most humans in the USA are deficient. In addition to this, some people have issues genetically in converting these, and others are just in a state of malabsorption due to overtraining or intestinal permeability, thus they cannot have these intermediates convert properly. The science of nutritional assessment has come very far, and today we can determine if you have a genetic shortcoming, if you are immunocompromised, if you are malnourished, if you have an energy conversion deficit or all the above.
In order to evolve athletes to optimal performance from a bio-individual perspective; the athlete needs to be assessed at 5 levels:
Psychology of performance – assessing personality performance profiling.
Proteomics – the large-scale study of proteins, and their involvement in human performance.
Metabolomics – the scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites, the small molecule substrates, intermediates and products of metabolism, as it relates to energy and athletic performance.
Nutrigenomics – the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the optimizing performance.
Microbiomes – the study of the totality of microorganisms and their collective genetic material present in or on the human body and the effect on human performance, recovery and immunity.
In partnering with Diagnostic Solutions Lab, we incorporate various functional tests, to determine the origin and baseline of each athlete, in order to design the appropriate intervention strategy not only for performance but also recovery, something that is very often overlooked in professional athletes.
Various tests we use from DSL to assess the above criteria:
The GI-MAP’s™accuracy and reliability allows practitioners to create personalized treatment protocols to address gut dysfunction. Although qPCR is becoming more commonplace in in-vitro diagnostics (IVD), DSL is the only laboratory in the United States exclusively using qPCR technology for advanced comprehensive stool testing. This technology is used routinely in clinical and academic research because it provides highly-accurate quantification, as well as high levels of sensitivity and specificity. Standard PCR technology doesn’t offer the same level of sensitivity, or the ability to express precise numerical results.
GenomicInsight™ provides a global view of the interconnectedness of SNPs and offers access to information that reveal lifestyle and therapeutic recommendations that may influence a gene’s expression and function. The role of genomics and epigenetics is recognized as an important tool in monitoring, preventing, and treating dysfunction. Furthermore, medical literature supports that epigenetics (the impact of the environment on gene expression) plays a critical role in human health.GenomicInsight™ with Opus23 Explorer™ identifies how the function or dysfunction of one gene impacts the expression and function of a separately-related gene or SNP.
Labrix introduced neurotransmitter testing in 2012, meeting the need for non-invasive solutions for practitioners who wanted a more comprehensive view of the body’s functional neuroendocrine status. Doctor’s Data neurotransmitter testing utilizes HPLC Triple Quadrupole MS/MS technology which is proving to be the most sensitive and accurate methodology for measuring urinary neurotransmitters. This testing has higher sensitivity and has stronger results reproducibility than has been available through other methodologies; this gives you far greater confidence in the reported results.
Functional Blood work overview. All our athletes are also screened through their CBC and CMP panels from a functional perspective to review any underlying, or early-stage chronic inflammation or metabolic issues that can inhibit performance. Looking at conventional blood markers and assessing them based on optimal levels. Too often people fall into “normal” ranges on their blood work performed by their doctors, and although they feel sick, they are told everything is normal. By taking a deeper look, and combining regular blood work with additional functional markers, a more comprehensive assessment can be made regarding one’s current performance and in the future. In a 2019 review article by Pedlar et al. they found that serial blood test data can be used to monitor athletes and make inferences about the efficacy of training interventions, nutritional strategies or indeed the capacity to tolerate training load. Via a profiling and monitoring approach, blood biomarker measurement combined with contextual data has the potential to help athletes avoid injury and illness via adjustments to diet, training load and recovery strategies. Since wide inter-individual variability exists in many biomarkers, clinical population-based reference data can be of limited value in athletes, and statistical methods for longitudinal data are required to identify meaningful changes within an athlete.
Organic acids are chemical compounds excreted in the urine of mammals that are products of metabolism. Metabolism is the sum of chemical reactions in living beings by which the body builds new molecules and breaks down molecules to eliminate waste products and produce energy – understanding energy is vital in athletes. Organic acids are most commonly analyzed in urine because they are not extensively reabsorbed in the kidney tubules after glomerular filtration. Thus, organic acids in urine are often present at 100 times their concentration in the blood serum and thus are more readily detected in urine.
How to Use Sports Nutrition in Practice
Once we have reviewed all the above information, we can build a nutritional protocol for athletes, around their genetic makeup, assisting in the weaker areas of the genetics, through a strong nutritional prevention strategy. We can assess inflammation, metabolic energy status, and the levels of immune suppression by looking at the other markers, and design intervention strategies to address those issues.
This level of scientific precision and assessment on an individual nutritional level, is not going to be the exception but the rule for future professional athlete intervention. The change of a higher level in the standard of care has already begun for competitive athletes and weekend warriors. Using these tools at our disposal will help us in the future better understand the different needs of different kinds of athletes, and the level of stress and depletions these sports put on our bodies.
Maryland University of Integrative Health is one educational institution that is taking the lead in enhancing this new subspeciality.It’s Masters of Nutrition and Integrative Health also trains the future nutritionist at a level of superior functional assessment by investigating all the above biochemical assessments in some of their core courses. The best way to become a good sports nutritionist is to have a very good base education in the overall nutritional sciences.
In conclusion as biochemist Dr. Roger J. Williams states in his book “Biochemical Individuality”: There is no such thing as an average person, we are all genetically and biologically unique. But when sperm meets egg, our characteristics are not locked in stone, bad genes do not necessarily cause disease by themselves, and nutrition and environment can alter the outcome.
Pedlar, C.R., Newell, J. & Lewis, N.A. Blood Biomarker Profiling and Monitoring for High-Performance Physiology and Nutrition: Current Perspectives, Limitations and Recommendations. Sports Med49, 185–198 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01158-x
Integrative health is commonly defined as the coordinated use of multiple health approaches in health care, and it also describes a holistic perspective of what it is to be healthy.
At MUIH, we promote integrative health as a holistic approach to health and well-being. We consider the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual domains of health and wellness. We also consider a range of contributing factors including the environment, personal behaviors, and genetics. Our educational and clinical practices are grounded in a whole-person and relationship-centered perspective that supports collaboration between the patient and the healthcare team. We aim to empower individuals to become informed, take personal responsibility, tap into their inner resilience, and choose the best options for themselves. We use approaches that are evidence-informed and tailored to each individual.
Trauma Recovery in Our Collective Pandemic Experience
We have been living under the spectre of a global pandemic for a long time. To varying degrees and in diverse ways, we are all feeling it. Whether you are grieving lost loved ones, suffering long stretches alone, rising to the demand of being a front-line worker – even if you are enjoying the chance to slow down – the constant bandwidth of following protocols wears at resilience.
This holistic mind-body practice has been around for thousands of years and is currently used all over the world by people from all walks of life. Yoga has an impressive list of health benefits—from reducing stress to relieving low back pain—and has even been studied as an adjunct treatment for chronic health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obesity.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga has even been shown to help people quit smoking and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Clearly, yoga has the potential to change lives for the better!
If you’ve been thinking about turning your love of yoga into a career that allows you to help others, becoming a yoga therapist might be a perfect step for you.
What is a Yoga Therapist?
This might be helpful to remember—all yoga therapists are yoga teachers, but not all yoga teachers are yoga therapists.
Here’s what we mean:
To become a yoga teacher, you have to undergo at least 200 hours of certified training. A person who aspires to become a yoga therapist must undergo this 200 hours AND fulfill advanced training at a certified accredited school.
To earn their certification, a certified yoga therapist must complete at least 800 hours of rigorous training (in addition to the 200 hours needed to become a yoga instructor) that provides an even deeper understanding of anatomy, physiology, and yoga theory, as well as topics that bridge the gap between Eastern and Western philosophies of medicine and healthcare.
Yoga therapists must also log at least 100 clinical hours working with clients, generally done in one-on-one or small group settings.
The end result? A yoga therapist is a highly trained individual who can guide and instruct people through yoga sessions that are coached in a more therapeutic setting. These professionals are skilled at modifying and adapting their yoga sessions to the specific and sometimes sensitive needs of their clients, including those who are dealing with prior trauma or mental health issues.
Working with a yoga teacher can be excellent for your well-being. But due to their advanced training, yoga therapists are better equipped to help clients learn how to manage or reduce chronic health symptoms, improve their quality of life, and develop greater personal empowerment.
You might think of this as the difference between venting on the phone to a friend versus discussing personal issues with a licensed mental health counselor. Both avenues may help, but the latter is likely to provide more significant and lasting benefits. Such is the experience of many people who work with certified yoga therapists.
Now the question is:
How do you become a certified yoga therapist? Here are 6 tips to get you started.
Tip 1: Regularly Attend Yoga Classes
Before investing time and money into a yoga career, you want to make sure you like yoga! Look up classes in your area and start attending regularly. It’s also a good idea to start taking a personal inventory by asking yourself questions like:
Why do I want to become a yoga therapist?
How much can I afford to invest in my training?
What style of yoga and/or what groups of people do I want to work with?
Tip 2: Get Involved
Once you’ve started regularly attending yoga classes, the next step is to ask your yoga teacher or mentor for advice about how to get started. At this stage in your journey, you should establish yourself in your local yoga community and find your preferred style of yoga.
Tip 3: Become a Certified Yoga Teacher
Remember, becoming a yoga teacher is only the first stepping stone to becoming a yoga therapist. That means you’ll need to apply for and complete at least 200 teacher training hours in a certified yoga program. You’ll also want to make sure you explore which types of yoga you want to specialize in (e.g., Vinyasa, Hatha, power, hot, Sivananda Ashtanga, etc.).
Yoga therapy programs require a teaching certification through a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS®) or its equivalent. The specific certification you’ll earn depends on the number of teacher training hours you complete and other factors. Teaching certifications include:
Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®) 200
E-RYT® 200, RYT® 500
There are also specialty certifications you can choose to pursue, including Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT®) and Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT®).
Note: RPYT® and RCYT® do not satisfy the full 200 hour requirement to become a certified yoga teacher.
Tip 4: Start Teaching
Most yoga therapy courses ask that you have at least one year of teaching under your belt before you apply. So, once you’ve become a certified and licensed yoga teacher, it’s time to start teaching! Teaching is the best way to hone your skills, expand your networking opportunities (handy for references, which you’ll need to apply to yoga therapy school), and help you clarify where you’d like your yoga career to take you.
You can find a job as a yoga teacher by word-of-mouth referrals, networking with your yoga colleagues, or even looking up local listings.
Tip 5: Choose the Right Yoga Therapy Program
As is the case for all higher education tracks, not all yoga therapy programs are the same. So, once you’ve been teaching yoga for about a year and are ready to start your yoga therapy training, you’ll need to do your research and make sure you find the right one for you.
When selecting a yoga therapy program, be sure to ask about things like:
Program costs and scholarship opportunities
Prerequisites and course credits
Program format and schedule
Job opportunities for graduates
Will this program allow you to work in a clinical setting?
As an example, the Master of Science in Yoga Therapy at MUIH offers an integrative hybrid experience for students who have earned a minimum of 200-hour Teacher Training through a Yoga Alliance 200-hr registered school program or its equivalent. We’re proud to say that 86 percent of our recent graduates are employed or self-employed within a year of graduation.
Tip 6: Decide Where You Want to Work
There are so many different ways to practice yoga therapy, which makes it a great option for people who like to have some flexibility in their careers. As a yoga therapist, you can find work in a clinic, gym, institutional setting, or school. You can even start your own private practice.
Yoga therapists are highly skilled professionals who are trained to teach yoga in a therapeutic setting in individual or small-group settings. Yoga therapy is an increasingly popular field with many career opportunities for people who are interested in holistic healing practices within the context of Western medicine.
In the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m often asked “how is work going?” This exchange usually leads to the person asking me: “How can your students do acupuncture via telehealth? You can’t needle someone through a screen.”
That statement highlights a widespread misconception of acupuncture. Most Americans don’t realize it is but one tool in a larger medicine; most think of acupuncture as “treatment with needles.” What else can an acupuncturist offer without their needles? The simple answer: A lot.
What I mean to say is that, students and practitioners of acupuncture therapy are also well-versed in many other holistic healing techniques that promote general well-being, alleviate stress, and may even help prevent acute and chronic disease.
From providing customized dietary advice, to private instructions on T’ai chi and other complementary medicine techniques, your acupuncturist can offer you so much on a telemedicine visit (even when you can’t get into the office for an acupuncture session). Keep reading to learn more about these techniques and how telehealth works.
What else can an acupuncturist offer without their needles?
Part of the underlying wisdom of Traditional Chinese medicine is its focus on self-care and health promotion. Acupuncture students are educated in movement therapy such as qi gong and T’ai chi; they can impart dietary advice; lead people through breathing exercises and body awareness techniques, and some can offer herbs. Additionally, students are able to guide patients through self-applied acupressure treatments.
Qi gong (alternately, qigong, or “energy work”) is a mind/body practice that integrates posture, movement, breathing, touch, sound, and focused intent or mindfulness, according to the National Qigong Association. Like yoga, hundreds of qi gong styles and practices exist. Reported qigong benefits include improvements in both mental and physical health.
With roots in ancient China, T’ai Chi is an evidence-based, movement-based traditional mind/body technique that is easy to learn and requires no special equipment. You don’t even need a lot of space to learn or practice T’ai Chi, which makes it a fantastic tool to use during a telehealth appointment with a skilled instructor.
According to Mayo Clinic and other organizations, benefits of tai chi include reduced stress, improved balance, strength, and flexibility, and even reduced blood pressure.
You may have noticed so far that acupuncture therapy and associated techniques focus on both mind and body. Dietary advice from holistic providers rests on the same foundation. Acupuncture providers can use telehealth to share dietary advice that centers on enriching a person’s physical and mental energy through nutrient-dense, sustainable, and ethical foods and eating practices (e.g., mindful eating).
We humans intuitively know how powerful the breath is—for instance, we often sigh or take a deep breath when stressed. Thanks to decades of scientific research, we now know why deep breathing can be so powerful and calming (Russo et al, 2017). Deep breathing exercises (which are easy to teach via telemedicine) quite literally activates the part of your nervous system that helps you relax, slow your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure.
Body Awareness Techniques
From progressive muscle relaxation to yoga nidra, body awareness techniques are an excellent way to help identify and alleviate negative emotions and release stored tension in the body. Life so often pulls us out of the present moment and back to worry about the future or past. By teaching you how to become more aware of your physical body, your acupuncture therapist can also help ground you into the powerful now.
Knowledge of Herbs
Practitioners of acupuncture therapy are also trained in the long-standing tradition of herbal medicine. Via telehealth, acupuncturists are able to suggest various remedies or blends that can address specific ailments and monitor the patient’s response to these remedies over time.
I believe that each one of us is the expert of our own body. To this end, self-acupressure can be a deeply enriching way to listen and respond to your body’s needs.
Acupressure is a manual technique you can use on yourself to relax muscles, alleviate trigger points, and in the traditional Chinese medicine tradition restore the flow of life energy, moving your body toward a state of well-being.
As is true for many of the other healing techniques already discussed, acupressure is safe, low cost, and easy to do and learn (especially when given real-time feedback from a skilled provider during a telehealth appointment).
Research Supporting these Techniques
It is also important to highlight the amount of established research supporting the effectiveness of these interventions. T’ai chi and qi gong have shown benefit in addressing some chronic pain conditions1 as well as improving health-related quality of life outcomes2. There is also emerging evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of qi gong to ease stress and anxiety3. Other self-care techniques and dietary advice has shown to empower patients to make healthy behavioral and lifestyle changes4.
One recent randomized controlled pilot study published in Pain Medicine (Murphy et al, 2019) even found that self-administered acupressure techniques were effective at alleviating chronic low back pain and reducing fatigue.
In my experience, these techniques often have a powerful synergistic effect on each other. That is, by utilizing them together (and in addition to other healthy lifestyle strategies) they become even more effective for the individual.
Both the global pandemic and the social justice movement are prompting many people to seek out health positive, health-promoting self-care techniques and information. Now more than ever it is important to turn to practitioners that have fundamental knowledge in medicines and techniques that have persisted for thousands of years. Medicines and techniques that have helped an untold number of people through similar times. I can’t think of a more important time to seek out an acupuncturist via a telehealth visit.
What we are really seeing in the research is simple yet profound:
Healthy lifestyle changes are essential for promoting improved quality of life, increased lifespan, and disease prevention. It’s no wonder the World Health Organization and other professional bodies recommend them so strongly. And as we continue to learn about t’ai chi, qi gong, acupressure, and other healing techniques, I’m hopeful we’ll see them incorporated more frequently into lifestyle modification programs.
And remember: if you’re not willing nor able to go to a provider’s clinic right now, you can still learn about these techniques from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Because pandemic or not, you deserve to be empowered with tools and strategies that can support your health needs and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions about Telehealth and Virtual Acupuncture
When Does Virtual Acupuncture Make Sense?
If you only think about acupuncture therapy as “needles in the skin,” then virtual acupuncture doesn’t make much sense at all. But students and practitioners of acupuncture are also trained in a broad range of other holistic healing techniques, many of which can be taught safely and effectively in the private and individualized setting of a telehealth visit.
How does telehealth work?
Broadly speaking, telehealth is the use of electronic and digital technology, including phone or video conferencing, to connect with a medical professional or wellness provider even when you are unable to be in the same location. Telehealth may include video conferencing, phone calls, texts, emails, chats, and other means of communication. Use these to talk to or even see your provider from the comfort of your own home!
Internet connectivity is required. Telehealth may work differently depending on your provider, location, or particular service you’re utilizing.
How much does telehealth cost?
Some research has found that telehealth visits cost less money than office visits, in some cases by almost two-thirds. This can vary significantly depending on your location, insurance provider, medical provider, and type of service you’re utilizing.
When deciding if the cost of telehealth is worth the investment, be sure to consider the unique convenience it offers. Since telehealth visits can be done almost anywhere with an internet connection, you can avoid hassles such as arranging childcare, getting time off work, and commuting to and from a clinic.
What’s Virtual Acupuncture Like?
A virtual acupuncture session can be very similar to acupuncture therapy sessions you may receive in-person at a clinic—minus the specific acupuncture modality. What is left to be shared via telehealth are all the other services and techniques an acupuncture therapist can provide in a one-on-one instructional setting: Tai Chi, qi gong, breathing exercises, and more.
Interested in working with an MUIH Acupuncturist via telehealth or in office at the Natural Care Center (NCC)? Visit our website, ncc.muih.edu or email the NCC at .
Bai Z, Guan Z, Fan Y, et al. The effects of qigong for adults with chronic pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Chin Med 2015;43:1525–1539.
Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Meditative movement therapies and health-related quality-of-life in adults: A systematic review of meta-analyses. PLoS One 2015;10:e0129181.
Wang C-W, Chan C, Ho R, et al. Managing stress and anxiety through qigong exercise in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014;14:8.
Harvie A, Steel A, Wardle J. Traditional Chinese Medicine Self-Care and Lifestyle Medicine Outside of Asia: A Systematic Literature Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(8):789-808. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0520
Trusting the Experts – 3 Tips to Evaluating Integrative Health Information
Author: Daryl Nault
If you have ever attended an educational seminar, clinical workshop, or read an editorial written by a clinical professional, you’ve likely been exposed to expert advice. More than ever, experts may also share information online through blogs, vlogs, and even social media. Policymakers and the general public also place stock in expert advice, so it can also have considerable influence on public health measures too.
Expert advice (or opinion) generally refers to evidence, information, or guidance given by someone who’s work has made them an authority in their field. Clinical experts could be academics, specialists, or practicing clinicians, who have spent a considerable amount of time studying one area of interest. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone calling themselves an expert truly meets these criteria.
So, how do you know whether a piece of so-called expert advice is worth implementing in your practice?
When experts present valid, relevant, evidence-based information, it can be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, not all expert advice meets these criteria, so it is up to you to critically appraise the information being provided.
On the other hand, you may also find that others look to you for expert advice, and you want to be sure you’re giving valid and reliable information to them too. Luckily, the same appraisal guidelines can be broadly applied in both situations.
Whether you’re appraising or giving expert advice, your foremost concerns should be on three things: transparency, balance, and accessibility.
Good expert advice should be clear on what is fact, and what is simply an opinion. If this is difficult to discern, proceed cautiously. Ideally, expert advice should only rarely be based on opinion, if at all. The information or facts being claimed should be well supported by relevant and applicable scientific evidence, rather than subjective findings like testimonials. The information provided should also be accurate and verifiable. If there is any question, check out similar resources. Do they align with what is being reported? If not, consider seeking out an additional reference or two to be sure.
You want to look for resources that are clear about the reason they are presenting the information. For example, the purpose of this resource is to provide a general guideline for a clinical audience in writing and appraising expert advice. At the end of this piece, we will also invite you to join us for a more comprehensive Professional and Continuing Education course if you would like to further improve your ability to write evidence-based information as an expert in your field.
Alternative viewpoints, limitations, and methodologies should be discussed. If the expert or website is only providing positive or negative evidence in support of their claims, important information is possibly being omitted. Clinical applications should also be considered. Providing warnings where a modality or treatment is not evidenced to work well, or caveats to seek out the advice of your medical practitioner, shows that the author understands the relationship between clinical application and research evidence.
This may go without saying, but the expert should have some authority in the field they are reporting on, and the credentials to match. No matter how expert someone is in a field though, they should never insist that their answer is the only answer available. Red flags should go up if the expert is not open to the possibility that they may be wrong, or if they expect others to follow their lead without question.
The advice should be intellectuallyaccessible for the target audience. Be aware when experts use overly technical or complex language. This could indicate poor communication skills at best, or at worst, it could be a sign that the authors are trying to obscure the details.
The evidence authors reference should also be physicallyaccessible to the intended audience. If the evidence being cited is entirely behind a paywall or otherwise inaccessible, readers are left without the ability to cross-reference the information being conveyed. Once information is no longer verifiable, and readers can only take the author’s word at face value.
Technically, anyone can call themselves an expert and give advice. As a clinician, others may naturally look to you to be the expert. Your clinical responsibility as an expert is to share information in a way that is transparent, balanced, and accessible.
Establish Yourself as a Credible Resource in Integrative Health
Translating evidence-based health information is difficult, even for experienced health practitioners. Join this comprehensive six-module course with the support of an experienced mentor, and we’ll get you started in creating evidence-based compositions that you will be proud to share with your clinical community.
Nault, D., Beccia, A., Ito, H., Kashdan, S., & Senders, A. (2018). Health Information Discrepancies Between Internet Media and Scientific Papers Reporting on Omega-3 Supplement Research: Comparative Analysis. Interactive journal of medical research, 7(2), e15. doi:10.2196/ijmr.8981
Sbaffi, L., & Rowley, J. (2017). Trust and Credibility in Web-Based Health Information: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(6), e218. doi:10.2196/jmir.7579Camporesi, S., Vaccarella, M., & Davis, M. (2017).