All posts by Acupuncture Together

About Acupuncture Together

Acupuncture Together of Cambridge, Massachusetts is a community acupuncture clinic that has been providing affordable, effective group treatments to our community since 2008. We treat dozens of health conditions naturally and offer an affordable sliding scale to make treatment accessible to as many people as possible. Our location conveniently serves the people of Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville, Medford and others in the greater Cambridge/Metro-Boston area.

Our Office is Temporarily Closed

Out of an abundance of caution and the recommendation for social distancing as a public health measure, our office closed on Friday, 3/13/20, until further notice. We will follow the guidance of public officials about when to re-open and notify you at that time.

As many of you know, we have always done our absolute best to make acupuncture as accessible as possible, always limiting office closures.

We do not take the decision to close lightly, and thank you in advance for your understanding and support.

To Be Notified of Our Reopening:

We’ll be emailing all patients to announce our plans to re-open using our Schedulicity online appointment scheduler system. If you already receive our periodic email newsletters then you’re all set. If you don’t receive these newsletters and would like them, please email and ask to be added to our email list.

If You Had a Week Unlimited Package…

If you were in the middle of a week unlimited package when we closed, we will pick up on where you left off when our office returns and honor the remaining visits at that time.

Please Donate Used or New Twin Flat Sheets To Our Office

If you have used or new twin flat sheets in good condition, in any color/style, we’d love to take them off your hands. We’ll be changing sheets more often between patients when we re-open and could use more sheets from you if you have them, which will help us cut down on expenses. Feel free to drop off your sheets anytime in the box located at the door of our office suite (our office building will continue to be open, so come in and come up), or bring them in at a future visit. THANK YOU, we appreciate it!

Last, But Not Least…

Take care of yourself and be well. We wish you good health and look forward to seeing you in the near future!

Justine Myers, Lic. Ac. and the fantastic staff at Acupuncture Together

Our Covid-19 Coronavirus Precautionary Measures

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

The Covid-19 coronavirus is on the minds of many people these days. We’d like to share with you our precautionary measures to ensure the health and well-being of our patients and staff, as well as some links to helpful public health information (scroll to the bottom for those links). Our aim is to make our clinic a healthy place for all. We will continue to review and update our practices and policies as needed based on more information becoming available.

Here are the measures we are taking at Acupuncture Together based on research and risk assessment recommendations from local, federal and global officials as well as in collaboration with other POCA clinics. We appreciate everyone’s participation and understanding:

If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms, or vomiting or diarrhea, please stay home. The main symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Call your primary care physician if you’re in need of medical attention for these concerns.

-If you have an appointment scheduled and aren’t feeling well, you may call our office to cancel it on the same day and will not be charged (please just let us know you’re cancelling due to illness and the late cancellation fee will be waived).

-We’ll be sanitizing surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door knobs and call buttons, several times each day.

-Please use hand sanitizer when you check in at the front desk, or wash your hands in the bathroom if you prefer that to hand sanitizer. We have hand sanitizer placed on the front desk and at every station in the treatment room. Feel free to help yourself at any of those locations. When washing your hands, please wash for at least 20 seconds. Having everyone clean their hands upon arrival will help reduce the transmission of germs.

-We have 3 types of hand sanitizers available throughout our clinic: alcohol-based clinic made hand sanitizer in spray bottles (our recipe: 12 oz 91% isopropyl alcohol, 4 oz witch hazel, 1/4 tsp tea tree oil, 20-40 drops lavender essential oil and vitamin E squeezed out from 4 x 400 mg capsules), alcohol gel-based hand sanitizer in pumps, and non-alcohol based Cleanwell foam sanitizer. We will be using the alcohol based types before providing treatments – spray more often than gel. We limit our use of the gel type in the treatment room because it becomes sticky on our fingers during treatments when used repeatedly, so we prefer/alternate with the spray type. We use Cleanwell at other times, not directly before needling.

-Our recliners are all at least 3 to 5 feet apart. Sources vary on the amount of space between people in which Covid-19 is likely transmittable: the World Health Organization says 3 feet/1 meter and the Centers for Disease Control says 6 feet. When seated in recliners, patients are not face to face with other patients. Given the space and the fact that people aren’t facing one another, we believe that the treatment rooms are safe.

-We are now putting a layer of paper towel on the hand/armrest section of all of our chairs as an added precaution. We change sheets on recliners daily, and we also change them immediately after someone who has been sitting in one has any upper respiratory symptoms, or if the sheet becomes dirty or sweaty. If you’d prefer to bring in your own sheet or large towel to place on a chair, you’re welcome to do so. Here’s a statement about Covid-19 on soft surfaces from the Harvard Health Blog.

-If you are coughing we will provide you with a face mask and ask you to wear it. This helps prevent any possible spread of germs and also will help alleviate concerns from others sharing the space.

-Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes and face with unwashed/non-sanitized hands.

-Cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than onto your hands. If you sneeze or cough on your hands or into tissues or a handkerchief, please use hand sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as possible.

Here are some more guidelines and links to inform you about how to take care of yourself and recommended local, federal and global practices regarding Covid-19:

CDC Facts about Covid-19

WHO Facts about Covid-19

FAQ by an Intensive Care and Infectious Disease Physician

American Society of Acupuncturists Covid-19 Fact Sheet

Cambridge Public Health Department Covid-19 Information

Business and Employer Guidelines

Recent Acupuncture Research In the News

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

3 recent studies of cancer patients showed acupuncture to be effective in various ways. The first study showed that acupuncture reduces cancer pain and painkiller use. A second study showed that acupuncture lessens chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and a third study showed that acupuncture reduces radiation-induced dry mouth.

Although these studies were specific to cancer patients and side-effects of cancer treatments, we’d like to elaborate on these findings. Acupuncture is helpful for all types of pain, peripheral neuropathy and dry mouth. We have first-hand experience treating these conditions in our own patients, and it would be beneficial for you and others to know about this as well.

When it comes to pain, acupuncture is effective for all types: musculoskeletal pain, arthritic pain, headaches and migraines, menstrual pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome and more. Many of our patients try acupuncture with the goal of pain relief and many are able to reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers/over the counter pain relief medicine. Acupuncture is always worth a try for pain.

In terms of peripheral neuropathy (pain/tingling/numbness in hands/fingers and feet/toes), we have patients who have experienced a substantial reduction in severity of neuropathy related to chemotherapy and diabetes, as well as neuropathy without any specific underlying condition. Our patients are pleased when they have less discomfort and greater function (i.e. walking more easily, using their fingers/hands with fine motor skills more easily/comfortably). Although acupuncture is helpful for all types of neuropathy, we do want to point out that when there is an underlying condition such as diabetes, it is extremely important to effectively address that condition (i.e. working with a physician/dietician to ensure blood sugar levels are healthy/stable) in addition to the use of acupuncture for the neuropathy.

Finally, acupuncture is helpful for dry mouth and also for other symptoms of dryness such as dry eyes. Certain points are useful for stimulating the salivary glands and tear ducts, and for overall dryness in the body. We have seen this in patients with conditions such as blepharitis, Sjogren’s syndrome and dry mouth related to the use of medications.

We are pleased to see many cancer centers offering acupuncture for their patients to help manage their symptoms, and it is also fantastic that research is being done in these settings. Acupuncture is gaining in popularity due to its efficacy in a wide variety of health conditions.

Finding Balance in the New Year and in the Long Run

by Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

The new year is often a time of introspection and self-reflection. This process may bring up the desire to make changes or improvements in our lives. We think about habits we may want to change, aspects of our physical and/or mental health that we’d like to improve and goals for the new year and/or the future.

One thing that is great to remember is that even though the new year may be a motivating factor for change, we are all capable of making changes in our lives at any given moment. It doesn’t have to be the new year. It doesn’t have to be a Monday. It doesn’t have to be dictated by an event, deadline or date on the calendar. It’s great to realize that we ultimately have the ability to make conscious decisions about our actions at any time.

Speaking for myself, my biggest overarching goal for many years has been to achieve a sense of balance as well as I reasonably can, and this year is no different. For me this includes a balance of work, time with my family and friends, physical activity/exercise, rest and relaxation, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, outdoor time, the types and amounts of foods I eat, time spent reading/learning, time spent volunteering and giving of myself in various organizations, etc. to the best of my abilities. I have learned through experience not to over-commit myself and to set limits so that I don’t exhaust myself from overdoing it or stress myself out. I notice that I am sensitive to imbalances. As an acupuncturist, a small business owner and a mother of 2 young children I have a lot on my plate. Sometimes the to-do list is long or unexpected problems arise and I feel overwhelmed; it’s normal. We can’t control the unexpected problems that make our lives difficult. Fortunately when I do my best to do the things that help me achieve balance most days, I am better able to weather the challenging situations that come up from time to time.

For me, receiving an acupuncture treatment is an excellent way to feel more relaxed and more energized; essentially, more balanced. I use acupuncture in times when I need it (for example when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, experiencing insomnia, feeling exhausted and/or something hurts) and also as prevention/maintenance at times when I don’t necessarily feel like I need it at that moment, because I know it will help me continue to feel energetic and relaxed and to have good quality sleep. I use acupuncture as a tool in my toolbox of ways to maintain balance.

This year in addition to continuing to strive for balance my goals are to spend a little more time reading and learning, and less time on social media. In 2019 I didn’t start the year with any particular resolution or goal, but early in the year I decided I wanted to challenge myself by reading a variety of books about topics that I wanted to learn more about. That challenge was very rewarding to me and now I seem to have an unquenchable thirst to read many, many more books! Years ago (maybe 2010?) I set a goal to have more fun, and I had one of the best years of my life! Setting attainable goals is a great vessel for lasting change. Taking small actions leads to positive change in time, and it is interesting to see where our goals take us.

Whether you’re staying the course you’ve been on, are still thinking of ways you might like to change, or you’ve just enthusiastically embarked on attaining a goal this year, I hope you will find the journey fulfilling and experience a sense of balance.

How Acupuncture Shines

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

The use of acupuncture for health conditions beyond muscle and joint pain (i.e. knee pain, neck pain, lower back pain, etc.) isn’t widely known by many people, yet acupuncture is exceptionally effective for so much more.  I do not at all wish to discount the fact that pain is miserable and that acupuncture is typically an excellent treatment for most types of the aforementioned conditions, but for the purposes of this article I would like to discuss broader applications of acupuncture.  As I have progressed in my career as a community acupuncturist, I’m happy to say that I’ve witnessed many examples of the power of acupuncture in people’s lives.  I want to share this information with you, because you ought to know that acupuncture is a viable treatment option for many health conditions.

For this article I am relying on my own clinical observations.  I have been in practice since 2007 and I estimate that I’ve given roughly 43,000 treatments in this time.  The vast majority (I would estimate 80% or more) of patients I have treated with the following conditions have reported substantial improvement with acupuncture (substantial improvement meaning greatly reduced severity and/or greatly reduced frequency of episodes for chronic conditions, and complete recovery for acute conditions).  These conditions are ones I feel very confident about treating with good success following a suggested course of treatments, which I will get into later:

  • Allergic Rhinitis & Sinusitis
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Headaches
  • Hives (Urticaria)
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathy
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Stress
  • TMJ Dysfunction

There are many other conditions which I would estimate have closer to a 50% success rate with acupuncture treatments (meaning about 50% of people experience significant results from acupuncture, and 50% experience a little improvement or no change), so in my opinion it’s definitely worth giving acupuncture a try.  Many of these conditions have fairly complex underlying causes, which contributes to the fact that there’s less consistency in achieving good results.  Some of these conditions have higher success rates with Chinese herbal medicine in addition to acupuncture rather than acupuncture alone (i.e. gastrointestinal problems and menstrual irregularities).  These conditions with approximately 50% success rates include, but are not limited to:

  • Breech Baby (turn a baby in breech position to be head down)
  • Constipation
  • COPD
  • Depression
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Gastritis
  • GERD/Acid Reflux/Heartburn
  • Herpes
  • Hypertension (particularly borderline hypertension)
  • Infertility
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease)
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Irregular and/or painful menstruation
  • Nausea
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Smoking cessation
  • Vertigo

Finally, there are many neurological conditions, chronic illnesses and subclinical diseases in which acupuncture can be used as an effective support for reduction of severity and management, such as, but not limited to:

  • Autoimmune/Rheumatic diseases
  • Cancer support
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Heart Arrhythmias
  • Immune Support (i.e. for prevention of common colds, urinary tract infections, etc.)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Before I go on to discuss treatment frequency, I want to point out that acupuncture can be used for all of the above health conditions and more, but it is imperative that there also be physician involvement particularly for more serious or potentially life threatening health conditions (i.e. heart disease, COPD, cancer, etc.).  For example, if you want to use acupuncture as a way to manage borderline hypertension, it is important to be regularly checking your blood pressure and checking in with your primary care physician (many doctors encourage their patients to try acupuncture and other diet/lifestyle changes for the management of borderline hypertension before going on medications).

As mentioned previously, an important part of achieving good results with acupuncture for any health condition relies on the adherence to an appropriate course of treatments.  Typically when a patient first comes to our office to address a health condition we assess the severity of the condition and how long it has been present, and then recommend a course of treatments. Acupuncture isn’t a quick fix, but more of a process; however, for most people the acupuncture experience is very relaxing and enjoyable, and people often notice additional benefits as a result of acupuncture such as improved sleep, improved mood and an overall sense of well-being, even when that wasn’t an original goal of treatment.

Oftentimes we will suggest 1, 2 or 3 treatments per week (depending on the severity of the condition) for a total of 6 to 9 treatments at that rate, then continue with less frequent treatments once there are good results lasting from treatment to treatment.  Some conditions will resolve in that time (perhaps with a total of 10-15 treatments altogether, or less treatments for a condition that hasn’t been problematic for very long before trying acupuncture).  Chronic conditions/illnesses typically require some level of maintenance for sustained relief.  Once our patients have completed an initial suggested course of treatments (i.e. 6-9 treatments) we encourage them to experiment with the frequency of treatments to find a routine that feels right for them.  Many of our patients who have chronic pain or other chronic health conditions will come in once every 1-2 weeks, and/or more often if they have a flare-up and less often when they’re feeling well.  We can always offer a recommendation for frequency of treatments to anyone who asks, but we also like to offer our patients a sense of autonomy so that they can feel free to do what works for them, listen to their bodies and get in for treatments when they feel they’re in need.

In conclusion, it’s helpful to remember that acupuncture is useful for a wide variety of health conditions, is safe and without side-effects, so when (non life-threatening) health conditions crop up, it’s often worth a try.

Acupuncture for Sciatica

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

Sciatica was the first health condition for which I sought treatment with acupuncture.  I suffered sciatica related to piriformis syndrome, which manifested as glute and hamstring pain and stiffness.  It would alternate sides from time to time, and I still experience bouts of it occasionally.  I was in my early 20’s and a competitive runner, and running, particularly in colder weather, would set it off.   Conventional treatments including heating pads, therapeutic ultrasound and stretching provided only a little relief, but acupuncture helped me significantly. 

As an intern in acupuncture school, I treated several patients for sciatica.  In my last semester interning I started utilizing distal point treatments, which involves placing acupuncture needles at points away from the area of pain.  One of my patients had been suffering from sciatic pain in his lower back and along his iliotibial (IT) band and had great results from the treatments I gave him.  I could hardly believe it myself, but the proof was right there in front of me.  He was effusively thankful for the relief he received from those treatments, and eventually “graduated” from being treated before I was finished with my internship because his pain had resolved completely.

Many patients come to our clinic seeking treatment of sciatica.  There are several causes and manifestations of sciatica; here’s a helpful guide by WebMD to learn more (note: slide 21 mentions acupuncture as a treatment option for sciatica). 

Acupuncture is typically an effective way to treat sciatica without drugs or side-effects.  The number of treatments needed for sciatica to resolve depends on how long the sciatica has been occurring and how severe the pain is.  Your acupuncturist can suggest a course of treatments once you’ve discussed your health condition(s) together.  A typical course of treatments for sciatica would be 6 to 12 treatments, 1-3 times per week depending on the severity (1 for mild, 2 for moderate, 3 for severe; as the pain reduces, so does the frequency).  More frequent treatments are recommended for getting relief more quickly, but when it’s hard to find the time for frequent treatments, once a week often suffices for slower but steady progress. 

If you ever find yourself suffering from sciatica, remember that it is definitely worth giving acupuncture a try!

Increasing Access to Another Safe and Effective Treatment for Addiction in Massachusetts

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD), more commonly referred to as addiction, is a major problem here in Massachusetts.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 10% of Massachusetts residents over age 12 suffer from substance use disorder (SUD).  Common treatments for SUD includes detoxification, behavioral therapy and medications, followed by recovery support services and regular drug tests using kits you’re able to find on sites like Countrywide Testing, to prevent relapse. 

Massachusetts needs to do as much as possible to help treat and save individuals suffering with substance use disorders.  One effective, simple and inexpensive adjunctive therapy that is not yet being widely utilized within our state is the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association’s (NADA) 5 needle point ear acupuncture protocol (5NP). Proven effects of the NADA 5NP include relaxation, decreased withdrawal symptoms, decreased symptoms of emotional distress (i.e. stress, anxiety, depression, and aggression), reduced cravings, relief of insomnia, mindfulness and prevention of relapse.  The NADA 5NP can be used alongside all the other traditional treatments to enhance the success rates of treatment and long-term recovery.

The NADA 5NP involves the insertion of 5 acupuncture needles at specific acupuncture points of the earlobes (10 needles per person).  Supplies for this procedure cost less than 30 cents per person. If professionals who are already working in addiction programs are allowed to practice the NADA 5NP as part of their job, then the costs to add this procedure to existing care are very minimal.  Thousands of addiction programs, drug courts, prisons, healthcare and trauma units throughout the United States have been using ear acupuncture for many years. This protocol has been used in cooperation with the American Red Cross for trauma relief after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.

Why doesn’t Massachusetts already widely utilize the NADA 5NP?  The widespread use of the NADA 5NP in Massachusetts will require the passage of an acupuncture detox specialist (ADS) law.  Currently, only licensed acupuncturists are able to utilize this protocol, and there aren’t enough licensed acupuncturists available to provide ear acupuncture in every public health facility where access to this treatment is needed.  In addition, it is not logistically possible for most licensed acupuncturists to leave their own acupuncture clinics in order to work at another facility for only a few hours a week.

27 states in our country have auricular acupuncture laws already.  Maine just passed an ADS law in June of 2019, leaving Massachusetts behind as the only New England state without an ADS law. Because an ADS law has such great potential to benefit the people of Massachusetts, I and many other licensed acupuncturists are supporting Massachusetts house bill H1880 and senate bill S1336, each titled “An Act Relative to Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists.” Representative Carole Fiola and Senator Michael Rodrigues are each sponsoring these bills that are assigned to the Joint Committee for Public Health. 

These bills would allow for specific licensed healthcare professionals (i.e. nurses, drug counselors, social workers, psychologists, and certain physicians) who aren’t licensed acupuncturists to practice the NADA 5NP following specific training requirements.  Once trained, these professionals would be allowed to perform the protocol within their current scope of practice, bringing the NADA 5NP to more people in the commonwealth. 

Passing the ADS law would be an effective, efficient, inexpensive and safe way to provide one more tool in the toolbox for those in SUD treatment and recovery.  If you’re personally affected by SUD or have experienced the benefits of acupuncture yourself, please help turn these bills into a law.  Contact your state senator and representative, and ask them to support bills S1336 and H1880, “An Act Relative to Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists.”  Together we can work to make SUD treatment and recovery a success for more people in Massachusetts.

Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis, Plantar Fasciosis and Bunions

Patients frequently come to us with diagnoses of plantar fasciitis and, less commonly, plantar fasciosis, while many other patients come in simply complaining of pain in their heels and/or arches of their feet without any medical diagnosis or with pain related to bunions. In all of these cases acupuncture is often helpful at relieving pain and improving function (i.e. the ability to walk and stand more comfortably), but we realize there are often underlying causes that are likely causing these conditions that could be addressed to prevent further pain and foot damage.

We recently came across this informative video about plantar fasciosis, plantar fasciitis and bunions. If you suffer from heel or foot pain and/or have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, plantar fasciosis or bunions, we recommend this video for some tips that you may find helpful. If any of the warning signs are similar to symptoms you are suffering, we recommend you look into arranging a visit with a local podiatry clinic, such as heartland podiatry for those in the Kansas City area.

Note: we have no connection with the company, Correct Toes, that produced this video, but we think the approach is worthy of consideration so we have decided to share it with you in hopes that you may find it to be helpful.

How Acupuncture Works

People are often curious to know how acupuncture works. Many scientific studies have been done to understand the mechanisms behind acupuncture. Here we’d like to share with you links to several articles that explain the way acupuncture works in detail:

What Is Acupuncture? (and how acupuncture is said to work) from Live Science

Chinese Medicine Demystified (Part V): A Closer Look at How Acupuncture Relieves Pain by Chris Kresser

Acupuncture: Why It Works from Mercola

Does Acupuncture Work By Re-Mapping the Brain? from AEON

Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. In honor of this occasion and in order to help more people who suffer from migraines and headaches, we’d like to share some information with you about how acupuncture can help these conditions.

We treat people with migraines and headaches frequently, often with good success. Many of our patients come to us for the treatment of migraines and headaches at the recommendation of their neurologists or primary care physicians. The American Migraine Foundation recommends that people who suffer from migraines try acupuncture. A meta-analysis of twenty‐two clinical trials including 4985 participants in total showed acupuncture to be effective in reducing the frequency of episodic migraines. Another study showed acupuncture to be helpful for frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches.

In our experience we find that acupuncture often reduces the frequency and severity of migraines and headaches. Of course we cannot guarantee it will work for every single patient who comes into our office, just like a specific medication can’t be guaranteed to help every patient who has a particular health condition. Overall, however, we feel confident in acupuncture for these conditions as we’ve had a lot of success helping our patients who suffer from headaches and migraines.

This post was written by Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.