Addressing Stress with Acupuncture
A common thread amongst many of the patients that we’ve seen recently is STRESS! At this moment in time, we are, as a community, facing a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political turmoil, and the return of fire season. Sigh.
How Stress Impacts the Body
These stressors throw our nervous system into fight flight or freeze response, which can lead to a variety of physical and emotional imbalances that affect everyone in unique ways. For some patients, stress can lead to insomnia and restlessness; for others, anxiety might flare up or their digestion might be on the fritz.
These imbalances are frustrating in the moment. Over time, they can turn into more serious issues – such as high blood pressure, oxidative stress, decreased immune response, and general inflammation – and can wreak havoc on all of the body’s systems.
How Acupuncture Can Help with Stress
One of the things that we love about acupuncture is the significant impact that it can have on a patient’s stress levels.
You may have already experienced the deep sense of relaxation that can come with a few needles, but did you know that research has measured the physiological effects of acupuncture on stress markers? It has been shown to increase heart rate variability, inhibit inflammation, and reduce the hormonal stress response of the HPA axis, to name a few. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends acupuncture as a complementary treatment for anxiety and depression, citing growing evidence of its efficacy.
From a more holistic perspective, acupuncture gives our patients an opportunity to rest and relax, helps to pull the body back into balance, and allows our patients to be present with their body and their emotions. And Chinese medicine treatment doesn’t end when we remove your needles! We ensure that our patients have tools that they can use to address stress in their everyday lives – including qigong exercises, mindfulness-meditation, breathing exercises, acupressure points, and herbal or supplemental remedies.
Feeling Stressed? Come See Us!
Click here to contact us with any questions you might have about how Chinese medicine can help you address stress, or to schedule an appointment for acupuncture today.
Our Team’s Tips for Staying Healthy & Sane and Our Virtual Offerings
Discover the Medicine of the Forest
“Every tree, plant, hill, mountain, rock, and each thing that was here before us emanates or vibrates at a subtle that has healing power whether we know it or not. So if something in us must change, spending time in nature provides a good beginning” – Malidoma Somé
As an Integrative Health and Wellness Coach, I talk to many women about their emotional and physical states, which are often (if not always) connected to one another. Situations that I seem to hear time and time again are:
I feel tired and overwhelmed.
I wish I had more time to do the things that I love to do.
There feels like there is just something missing in my life.
Burnout. Stress. Overwhelm. Numbness. This cycle has become all too common in our culture. Demanding work environments, raising a family, being constantly barraged by the notifications from emails, texts, social media – it’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed by everyday life. To add more fuel to the fire, we are spending more time indoors, away from the natural environment, than ever before in human history. The average American is spending less than 5% of their day outdoors, which is a dramatic shift from even just a few decades ago. What is all this time indoors, glued to technology, doing to our health and wellbeing? Countless research shows that our highly industrialized environment, full of artificial lights, loud noises, poor indoor air quality, chemicals, and electromagnetic pollution, is harmful to human health and is directly linked to chronic stress and disease.
Chronic stress can dramatically affect a person’s health. The American Psychology Association (APA) shares that “it can make existing health problems worse, and even cause disease, either because of changes in the body or bad habits people develop to cope with stress. The bottom line is that stress can lead to real physical and emotional health consequences”.
Revelatory research conducted over the last 30 years demonstrates a variety of ways that spending time in nature reduces stress and significantly promotes overall health and wellbeing. Through government funding and support, Japan and South Korea have created forest therapy programs that guide individuals to be in nature in a safe, intentional way to promote healing. Here in the United States, such funding and support are more limited but there are a handful of programs that train individuals to guide others to be in the forest in a way that embraces mindfulness and expanded awareness in order to promote the physiological, psychological, and spiritual healing benefits nature provides.
After completing my Master’s Degree in Integrative Health Studies and my six-month training to become a certified Forest Therapy Guide, I am delighted to be offering a four-walk series called “Women’s Wellness Forest Therapy Walks”. By combining the standard sequence of the mindfulness-oriented Forest Therapy walks with the powerful tools of cultivating self-compassion, vulnerability, and resiliency inspired by leaders in the fields of neuroscience and behavior change such as Brené Brown, Kristin Neff, and Kelly McGonigal, I will bring groups of ten women or less into the forests of Sonoma County to learn ways to not only manage stress and practice self-care but to feel more resilient and empowered to handle the fast-paced reality of living in 2018.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs. And like a forest, we as individuals have a web of interconnected pillars of support and strength. Lean into the shadows. Find gold out of the darkness. And breathe in the fresh and vibrantly alive forest of life that surrounds you.
Forest Therapy Walk Schedule:
April 21 – Cultivating Your Intuition
May 5 – Self-Compassion & Self-Care
May 19 – Tapping Into Vulnerability
June 2 – Community Building & Resiliency
Space is limited to 10 self-identified women per walk. The themes and practices of each walk are designed for this to be a cohesive experience from start to finish, but attendees who are unable to commit to the entire series are welcome to join for individual walks as well. There is a 25% discount if you purchase all four walks in advance. Please secure your space by purchasing your ticket here by April 13th. As a patient of Flourish Integrative Health, I invite you to use promo code FLOURISH to receive an exclusive 15% off this offering. With any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenny Harrow, MA has a Master’s Degree in Integrative Health Studies and is certified as an Integrative Health & Wellness Coach, Guided Imagery Practitioner, and Forest Therapy Guide. A Sonoma County native, Jenny is deeply passionate about leading individuals and groups on a journey of self-exploration and healing. In addition to being the Operations Manager at Flourish Integrative Health, she has several nature-oriented offerings through her practice EcoWisdom and is co-founder of the nonprofit Integrative Healers Action Network, which emerged from the recent Sonoma County wildfires and aims to bring integrative healing services to emergency response situations.
Tools to Release Trauma
Three weeks have passed since the fires started. During this time, our community has experienced the full range of human emotion. Some of us were evacuated. Some of us lost our homes. As a community, we have experienced both individual and collective trauma. Here at Flourish Integrative Health, we would like to share the tools and resources we have from not only our respective medical educations and training but also what we are implementing for ourselves as we move into this next stage of recovery and healing.
5 Steps to Release Trauma
“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud”
- Shake your body and sigh.
- 4/7/8 breath from Dr. Andrew Weil, leader in Integrative Medicine. Click here to view the health benefits and demonstration.
- Release Technique as taught in “Love Yourself and Let the Other Person have it your way”. Click here for a demonstration.
- Acupuncture: We have a few protocols that are helpful post-trauma. Expect 3-6 sessions to start. Click here to schedule an appointment or a complimentary 15-minute consult.
- Medical Qigong: Deeper support during this transition. Do you feel shaken from this experience whether or not you lost your home? Are you experiencing a sense of feeling lost or unable to find yourself, or wanting a new direction and just not sure how to find it? Expect to start with 3 sessions. Click here to schedule an appointment or a complimentary 15-minute consult.
Dr. Jen Riegle, ND, is offering B12 and B5 shots for fire recovery
- Increased Energy
- Elevated Mood
- Increased Cognitive Function and Memory
- Supports Adrenal Function
- Support Immune System
These shots are $20 each or pay what you can during these times. Available to everyone.
Community is an integral piece to healing trauma and wounds. If you ever want someone to talk to, to share a cup of tea, or spend time in community, please always feel free to reach out. We are all in this together.
Introducing Zhouie Lee, our new Acupuncturist
“It is with great pleasure that I introduce our new acupuncturist, Zhouie Lee. I am so honored that she has said yes to joining the Flourish team! Like myself, Zhouie comes from a lineage of women healers and has been in the healing field since she was a kid at her mom’s side, assisting births. Please take a moment to read her story below. We are so happy that you are on board, Zhouie, and can’t wait to introduce you to the Flourish community.” –Vladi
Schedule: Zhouie will be there to support you on Mondays and when Vladi is out of town.
In Zhouie’s own words:
My name is Zhouie, and I’m so excited to be joining the team at Flourish Integrative Health as a licensed acupuncturist. My journey to becoming an acupuncturist began while growing up in Bali, Indonesia and assisting my mom, a midwife at home births. While midwifery was not my calling, my love for working with pregnant and birthing women has continued to grow. My goal as a healthcare provider is to empower my patients into building positive and sustainable changes in their own lives. I look forward to meeting each of you soon!”
Zhouie Lee, Licensed Acupuncturist, DACM
Zhouie is a California Licensed Acupuncturist and holds a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. As a 10 year old, Zhouie began accompanying her mother, a midwife, to home births, and continued to work with her mom as she built Bumi Sehat Foundation in Bali, Indonesia. While Zhouie never developed a calling for midwifery, her many hours sitting with laboring women cultivated a love for the strength of women and the desire to be a part of women’s health care. Over the years, Zhouie continued to work with her mom as she built Bumi Sehat Foundation in Bali, and found herself spending more and more time at Bumi Sehat’s community-style acupuncture clinic.
Thomas Edison once said: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” While Traditional Chinese Medicine existed long before Edison spoke these words, acupuncture often heals by focusing on rebalancing the body and resolving the root of the issue, rather than treating the superficial symptoms. Zhouie believes that true healing comes from a whole-
body approach that often includes lifestyle modifications and dietary changes, as well as acupuncture and herbal medicine; and a partnership between provider and patient to work together in building positive and sustainable changes in their lives.
As a health care provider, Zhouie is committed to empowering her patients through knowledge about their bodies, and a belief that women’s health should reach far beyond just reproductive and physical health. Zhouie is especially passionate about treating women during pregnancy. Acupuncture is so effective in helping to alleviate morning sickness, physical discomfort, the emotional upheavals that pregnancy hormones and the pressures of carrying new life can bring, and help new moms to rebuild energy and strength after childbirth. Zhouie has also had the privilege of studying closely with Dr. Johnson Chiu, who specializes in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and pain.
When not treating patients, you will usually find Zhouie reading in the garden, practicing yoga,
or cooking for her family.
Open House Celebration! Thursday, October 20th: 5:00pm to 7:00pm
We are delighted to celebrate our new office space with an open house celebration!
~ Meet the new members of our holistic team: Vladi Starkov, Jen Riegle and Rose Deni specializing in women’s health.
~ Taste local wines poured by the winemaker of Gregory James Wines. Enjoy small, seasonally inspired bites.
~ Win great prizes of services and items donated by our wonderful community in an interactive raffle (proceeds will be donated to The Living Room). Prizes include 1-hour luxurious Massages, Acupuncture Treatments, Chiropractic, and wine!
~ Learn more about the current and future offerings at Flourish Integrative Health. We hope that you can join us in blessing our beautiful new space!
RSVP at email@example.com
Join Our 21 Day Fall Cleanse: October 10th – 31st
Fall is a time of transition and the perfect time to purify your body and mind. Experience the benefits of helping your body cleanse with the 21-day Standard Process Purification Program.
This is a semi-structured program that combines eating whole food, drinking nutritious shakes, taking supplements made with whole food ingredients, and light exercise. As included in the program you will also receive 1-Detox Specific Acupuncture Treatment, and 3 weekly Informational Group Calls with Vladi Starkov LAc.
21-Day Cleanse Program Includes:
- The Standard Process Purification Kit, which includes access to a wonderful app and cookbook to help you along your journey
- One Detox specific acupuncture session with Vladi
- 3 Weekly Informational Online Calls with Vladi! You can attend the discussions in real time or download at your convenience
Discussion #1: Layout of the Program
Why a cleanse is important
How the program works
How to use the app
Discussion #2: Emotional Cleansing
Deeper levels of emotional cleansing
Discussion #3: Wrap-Up & Integration
What to do after you purify
Continuing with a healthy lifestyle moving forward
Post-cleanse, patients anecdotally report:
- Increased weight management
- Increased energy & vitality
- Increased fertility
- Better digestion
- Clearer skin
- Shinier hair
- Better sleep
- Clearer thinking
- Better management of challenges related to natural toxin load in the body
Early Bird (sign-up by 9/30!): $395
Sign-up by 10/5: $450
The Program is Valued at: $545
One Size Does Not Fit All Nutrition: A Book Review on The Paleovedic Diet
Here at Flourish Integrative Health, we do not take a “one size fits all approach” to healing but really view each person as a unique ecosystem. This is a big reason why we resonated so deeply with the recently released book, The Palovedic Diet by Akil Palanisamy, M.D., a Harvard trained physician who practices integrative medicine. Dr. Palanisamy’s approach to nutrition arose from his personal experience with healing through a pragmatic, personalized approach to wellness. The Paleovedic Diet combines the ancient Indian system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems, and another ancient form of nutrition, the Paleolithic diet. The Paleo diet has resurfaced as a more recent diet fad, and Dr. Palanisamy’s interpretation demystifies the modern iteration and shows how the Paleo diet should be combined with your own body’s innate constitution, which is explained through Ayurvedic philosophies and practices.
Dr. Palanisamy does an incredible job writing about these ancient medical and nutrition principles in a very comfortable, conversational tone. Even if you are new to learning about Ayurveda and Paleo, Dr. Palanisamy’s writing style is approachable and enjoyable. After he shares his astounding story of healing through a personalized integrative nutrition based approach, Dr. Palanisamy continues by clarifying the Paleo diet and sharing what our ancestors actually ate (it’s not as meat focused as the modern day trend would have your believe!). After discussing how the Paleo diet should be individualized, highlighting the reasons behind grain and gluten sensitivity, distinguishing between good and harmful fats, Dr. Palanisamy then shares how you can discover your Ayurvedic type and tailor your diet accordingly. Additionally, he does not forget about emphasizing the importance of exercise, sleep, and the mind-body-spirit balance in the wellness journey.
For those looking for specific answers on what to actually eat and what to avoid, Dr. Palanisamy does a very thorough job of highlighting specific foods to include in your diet, both daily and seasonally, as well as foods to avoid. Even better, the end of the book is rich with delicious recipes to aid in the detoxifying process!
There is no one “prescription” for everyone; our journey to health and vitality is a unique as our own fingerprints. At Flourish Integrative Health, we utilize the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and other Eastern Medicine practices to help you discover what your body and spirit needs to fully flourish!
Vladi Starkov is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist, and natural health practitioner in Sonoma County who comes from a lineage of women healers in Bulgaria. She holds extensive training in the areas of pain, women’s health, fertility, Ayurveda and psycho-spiritual emotional balance. To learn more about how Flourish Integrative Health can assist you in your journey with IVF and fertility, visit www.flourishintegrativehealth.com or call 707-205-1224.
How Acupuncture Can Heal Mind, Body, and Spirit After Trauma
By Jenny Harrow
As a devoted patient of Vladi Starkov, I felt compelled to share how I came to work with her and how the experience changed me on every level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
My journey with Vladi Starkov at Flourish Integrative Health began a little over a year and a half ago and it altered my life direction towards my greater purpose. It all began when a scooter I was driving in Austin, Texas malfunctioned: the throttle was stuck in gear, and I was taken across four lanes of downtown traffic before being thrown thirty feet into a creek bed. Upon impact, I severely lacerated both of my knees, fractured my vertebrae, shoulder and ribs, punctured my lung, and experienced a concussion.
Luckily, I was found by a gracious soul who ran down to the creek and saved me from drowning in the 5 x 5 foot puddle in which I landed face down. I was rushed to the nearest hospital. The care I received, from the surgeries to the pharmaceutical drugs, saved my life and I am forever grateful for the miracles performed in the hospital. Yet, despite the necessity and efficacy of the care, the two weeks I spent in the medical hospital were incredibly confusing and downright scary. I had no memory of the accident whatsoever, so waking up in the hospital was a complete surprise to me. I was shuffled around from the ICU to the surgery floor several times within the first week and the doctors would only come to speak to me for less than five minutes at a time. The drugs and the trauma made my brain so blurry that understanding anything in general was difficult for me. The nurses and physical therapists were the most friendly to me, yet everything was so hectic and busy that no one in the hospital treated me like anything more than a body with injuries.
My first visit to Vladi’s office was dramatically different than my experience in the hospital. As soon as I met her, I felt safe. When I told her my story, she really listened with empathy and concern. As I settled onto the acupuncture table, peaceful sounds of Tibetan bells and chants emanated in the background. After she inserted the needles into different points around my knees, right shoulder and ribs, Vladi instructed me to breathe deeply and to silently send the injured parts of my body healing thoughts and energy. I remember very clearly those first few sessions, as I laid in the dark, unable to move and still so confused as to how this had all happened, learning how to send my broken bones love. Breathing deeply was difficult for me because of my punctured right lung and fractured ribs, but my breath began to strengthen when I brought concentration to it.
It was on Vladi’s acupuncture table that for the first time since my accident, I felt connected to my body, my mind, and the essence of my being. During those first two months of my recovery, I had a huge team of medical practitioners, from physical therapists to orthopedic surgeons. Every member of my team contributed to my physical healing a great deal, yet it was during the time with Vladi that not only did I feel the most safe, but it was also when I was able to heal my fractured soul. Traumatic events can change everything in a person’s life, from their physical capabilities to understanding their greater purpose on this planet. When treated delicately and with care, the time period after a trauma is an opportunity to retrieve any parts that feel disconnected. It is also an opportunity to open to a deeper connection to self and trusting your inner compass for guidance.
My body healed quickly and beautifully; I was able to enjoy some of my favorite activities, such as hiking and yoga, within four months of my accident. My soul took a bit longer to heal, however: after so many aspects of my life and identity changed so suddenly, it was on the acupuncture table and with Vladi’s guidance that I discovered my deeper purpose. Vladi helped me see that this traumatic injury was also an opportunity to grow, to become more of the person I wanted to be, and she was an incredible guide and mentor throughout this process. With Vladi’s support, I was able to explore the deepest corners of my soul and open up the gifts I am here to share.
At this point, a little over a year and a half has passed since I first stepped into Vladi’s office. Throughout this time, I have completely overhauled my life as I knew it! I quit my job of five years, I moved, I completed the first year of a graduate program, and I feel more connected to my purpose than I ever have before. I still receive acupuncture from Vladi, but only once or twice a month to address any lingering aches and pains from my accident, or to receive balancing and energetic treatments to help me handle the trials and tribulations of graduate school.
Sometimes we fall so that we can wake up with a deeper awareness of joy, love and gratitude. My fall in Austin shook me to my core, and with the help and guidance from amazing individuals such as Vladi Starkov at Flourish Integrative Health, I am happier and feel more whole and alive than I ever have been before. Today is a gift!
Jenny Harrow is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Integrative Health Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and is interning with Flourish Integrative Health. To learn more about how Flourish Integrative Health can assist you with your journey after trauma, guidance during life transitions, and pain management, visit: www.flourishintegrativehealth.com
Tuesday Tips: Bone Broth! One of the most mineral-rich foods out there!
Recently, I have been telling all of my patients about bone broth. This golden delicious liquid is chock-full of minerals and has helped several patients heal digestion, support immune system, heal and prevent injury, and recover from illness. I personally prefer Beef Marrow Bone Broth because it feels very nourishing to my body. However, if there are other conditions that are needing more tendon/ ligament support such as tendonitis, joint issues, knee pain, I will sometimes recommend Chicken feet/ necks. Check out all of the minerals that are contained in this delicious liquid. To your health, Vladi
Beef Bone Broth
Several large beef marrow bones, with or without meat attached
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and fill with water. Let cook on a low setting for 12-36 hours.
Strain with a colander or sieve, lined with cheesecloth – for a clearer broth.
Enjoy warm or let cool to use in other meals. Keeps in the fridge for several days or freeze indefinitely. I take the fat out once it is solid.
- Soup – Just add vegetables, or meat to broth and heat until warm. Season after cooking with salt and pepper and your favorite spices.
- Cooking Liquid – Use broth in place of water to cook vegetables and meat in a frying pan or pot. Bring broth to a boil, add meat and vegetables, reduce heat and simmer until cooked.
- Gravy – Use to make gravy for vegetables and meat. Add organic butter (2 Tbs.) in a skillet. Whisk in broth and cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Tea – Drink broth like a tea. This is great in the winter or when sick. Fill a thermos and sip throughout the day. The most traditional use for seasoned broth is as a first course, to enhance the digestion of any meal to come.
- Cleanse – Forget about juice, use broth as a liquid cleanse! Mix it up with chicken, beef or pork bone broth, add spice to taste. Yum!
Bone Broth contains lots of nutrients from the cartilage and bone. These include:
- hyaluronic acid
Recipe adapted from Berkeley Nutrition by Stephanie Gruber, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition