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Last month, we hosted - for the first time ever - a seminar in Chinese Medicine and Oncology at the Columbia Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital. This two-day course, led by the esteemed Drs. Katherine Taromina and Frank Butler, examined treatment strategies and the role of Chinese Medicine in supportive care for cancer patients. In addition to invaluable clinical insight and cutting-edge research shared by our lecturers, participants were offered an exclusive tour of the infusion center and cancer care facilities at the hospital.

As Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is increasingly becoming a standard method of treatment in the US, it is important to examine how best to integrate it into conventional practices and treatment protocols. One of the articles reviewed at the seminar was co-authored by Dr. Taromina herself: ‘A Model for Integrating Acupuncture into Supportive Care in Oncology’. This article is the first of its kind to explore the practical application of Chinese medicine in a hospital setting when treating cancer patients.

According to the article, there have been over 800 scientific studies published over the last 10 years on the role of acupuncture in cancer care. Many of them demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of cancer symptoms as well as adverse reactions to chemotherapy. Symptoms such as nausea, pain, xerostomia, anxiety, hot flashes, lymphedema, and insomnia can be effectively treated with acupuncture.

Dr. Taromina’s work in this field is pioneering, and we hope you gain as much from reading her article as we have. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, too!

If you missed out on the seminar, don't worry. If you are a licensed provider, you are eligible to attend our Grand Rounds: Oncology and Cancer Care Support. For more information, don't hesitate to Contact Us, or sign up for our Professionals Newsletter to stay up-to-date with our course offerings and events.

Despite being a fairly self aware person, life has always presented situations where I have found myself thinking: who is this person and why am I acting this way? For example, why would I become uncomfortably tongue tied in interviews despite adequate preparation and knowing what's to come? Or: why does it feel impossible at times, in the middle of a conflict, to remember those great communication skills I've learned? And the absolute worst one: Why do I fall back into old patterns I swore I'd never repeat again?

In my search for answers to these questions and in the process of studying the brain, I fell in love with Mindfulness.

The four main parts of the brain and their functions are:

Cerebrum: learning and analyzing new information, form thoughts, make decisions, functions of memory
Cerebellum: balance, posture, coordination
Limbic System: emotions, impulses, drive
Brain Stem: basic life functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure

Neuroscience - the study of the brain and nervous system - describes that under certain conditions of stress, blood flow is diverted from our higher cortical areas - what's called the Neocortex - to the lower areas of the brain. The Neocortex is part of the Cerebrum and the part of the brain that makes us uniquely human. It allows for abstract reasoning, aesthetic values, judgment, and language.

Stress causes blood to move away from the Neocortex and into our Limbic System, putting our emotions and impulses in the driver's seat and triggering our flight or flight response. This means that in stressful situations we can actually lose access to the brain functions of the Neocortex and specifically the Prefrontal Cortex, leaving us with the problem-solving skills of a two year old and the feeling like we're swirling in a soup of emotions.

This is where Mindfulness comes in. Neuroscience is finding that through what we call Mindfulness - which is a particular way of paying attention purposefully, consciously, and without judgement - we can actually keep our Prefrontal Cortex online when confronted with stressors. By developing a kind, accepting, and witnessing presence to our own experiences, we can keep our brain functions intact and integrated through the challenges.

What exactly is the Prefrontal Cortex responsible for? As interpersonal Neurobiologist Dan Siegel, MD outlines, the PFC offers 9 functions we may find especially useful in a difficult moment:

1) Bodily Regulation
2) Attuned Communication
3) Emotional Balance
4) Response Flexibility
5) Fear Modulation
6) Empathy
7) Insight
8) Moral Awareness
9) Intuition

You can see how maintaining the ability to connect to the Prefrontal Cortex is a good thing, and how problematic it can be if there is less than optimal blood flow to that area of your brain in a stressful situation. The good news is, by practicing this skill of Mindfulness in moments where stress is low actually helps strengthen and train your brain’s ability to maintain the practice when things get tough.

I LOVE this idea. Simply by doing this practice I am actually changing and strengthening my brain so that it can function more optimally under stress. Like any exercise, it might not be easy at first, but it is simple enough to start using immediately, and once learned it is free and accessible in any moment.

In my personal life, I get a little jolt of joy when I find myself being able to stay calm, creative, and connected in the middle of a challenge. It’s even more satisfying to hear people I work with relay stories of how they were able to witness their patterns and make wise choices in a heated moment.

Last week, I had an allergic reaction to something I ate in a restaurant. In the past, a similar event would have sent me into a panic; one time I actually hyperventilated and passed out. However, this time I was able to modulate my stress response and take action to stay safe. I had learned how to be with my breath, body, and thoughts in a calm, present, and supportive way and be a witness to the experience without getting unnecessarily carried away. I was able to respond to my needs at the moment, versus reacting without mindful awareness, and that felt really good. After I had taken stock of my allergic reaction and things seemed to stabilize, I gave my brain a loving pat and thanked it for staying together and helping me get through what could have been an extremely stressful experience.

This is just one example of how Mindfulness can be engaged in any moment. One can be presented with numerous and varying degrees of challenges daily in New York City, from eating something unexpected at a restaurant, to feeling overwhelmed by expectations at work, home, or in your love life. The practice of Mindfulness is like exercise for your brain, allowing it to learn how to deal with the blows of life so that you're ready to meet these challenges when they arise while staying connected to your best self, consciously and with clarity.

If you would like to learn more about Mindfulness practices and how to incorporate them into daily life, please come to our workshop this Saturday. I will be there to answer any questions you may have, and to guide you through some tips and techniques on how to stay Mindful in New York City.

Spring is finally here! You can feel the transitioning of winter into spring as the temperature ping pongs up and down, keeping us on our thermostatic toes. But inevitably, inexorably, the buds pop out on the trees, the bulbs push up, and there's a tantalizing scent in the air. Here at Evolve Health + Wellness, our wall-length "wave" windows shows the community garden putting off its winter coat of snow and revealing delicate colors of silvery green leaves, pale white branches of blossoms, and the occasional splash of wild yellows and pinks of daffodils and tulips.

You can feel the sap rising, and it's not just in the natural world around us (even in NYC) but it is within us as well! Our own "sap" is rising. Free and unfettered, it moves us into new projects and engaging with the world, and prepares us for stepping out into the bright light of summer.

An ancient Chinese medicine text called the Huang Di Nei Jing says: "Heaven begins to generate warm energy and Earth begins to develop, so that everything flourishes... The spring possesses the will to grow, and after things have grown, do not destroy them."

So how to best take advantage of this time of blooming and growth? This is a time of year I get to give out one of my favorite prescriptions: FREE AND EASY WANDERING. This 2,000+ year old advice from the Huang Di Nei Jing teaches us the importance of adapting to the seasons for the benefit of our health.

The text tells us: "it is desirable to get up in the morning, take a walk in the yard, to loosen up the hair and relax the body."

This advice was later associated with a phrase coined by Chuangzi, a famous Taoist philosopher, as free and easy wandering. It's such a great prescription that it even has an herbal formula named after it!

To grow and flourish with the spring, we need to have the relaxation of body and spirit for the natural energy of the season to move through us. It we are tight and contracted, or too much turned inward, the flow that wants to rise up and out will be impeded. A blockage of this kind can manifest emotionally as irritation, frustration, and feeling on edge, or physically, with a myriad of symptoms such as headaches, gut disturbances, changes in menstruation, or even neck or back pain.

So to follow this ancient prescription:

GET UP IN THE MORNING: it's not just daylight savings, we are returning to the long days of summer. It's time to shake off the cocoon-like habits of winter and greet the day with awareness and by being awake. In the winter we sleep in, and store energy. Now is the time to rise and shine. Use those extra minutes to stretch or breathe, or simply gaze at the beautiful world around you with a cup of coffee or tea.

TAKE A WALK IN THE YARD: well, we might not have those here in NYC, but we've got wonderful parks, gardens, rivers and open space. Even just finding a quiet few blocks with some hardy city trees will do. Walk briskly, allowing your arms to swing and lungs to pump. Gaze far off into the distance, across the water, down the block, at the buildings around you. Wide open spaces lift our spirits through the eyes and their direct connection to our energy. Look far, and definitely not at your cell phone!

LOOSEN YOUR HAIR: this prescription dates to when people wore their hair only bound up in the social sphere. Unbinding your hair means letting go of the trappings of that world and returning to a natural state. As you walk, or wander freely, let your mind let go of worries, thoughts of work and relationships recede to a low buzz. Just take in what's around you, see it, enjoy it, and let it go.

RELAX THE BODY: we store all kinds of tension in our physical structures. Shoulder tightness from desk work, restricted breathing from tension in the diaphragm. Let that go too. Be easy, be relaxed. As you walk, find areas of restriction and allow them to melt away. Use the flow of the walking to release.

Try this prescription every day, if you can, for 30-60 minutes during this season. Sub out the gym for some free and easy wandering. Enjoy this observance of the natural movement of energy all around us. Find a favorite city spot and go!

Community Qi Gong Classes Start in June

Have you ever thought of learning qi gong, but don't know where to begin?

Join us for the first community qi gong series hosted at Evolve Health + Wellness!

Qi gong is a form of exercise that combines rhythmic breathing with coordinated, repetitive, gentle movement, often resulting in a state of meditation and relaxation.

Five Element Qi Gong is a system of Chinese Qi Gong exercises designed to regulate and harmonize the physiological systems of the body. Based on the Five Element Theory in Chinese Medicine, these simple yet profound movements can be practiced daily to regulate the breath and organs while simultaneously aligning the joints and connective tissue.

Targeting every major organ system, Five Element Qi Gong can be beneficial to everyone, both qi gong newbies and veterans alike.

Everyone is welcome to participate, no prior experience necessary.

Classes are held Thursdays in June:

June 4 7:00 - 8:00 pm
June 11 7:00 - 8:00 pm
June 18 7:00 - 8:00 pm
June 25 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Cost: $100 for the series of 4 classes

About the Instructor - Jen Resnick

Jen Resnick is the Programs Coordinator at Evolve Health + Wellness.

An international champion and nationally-renown instructor, Jen began her martial arts practice in the Bay Area of San Francisco where she went on to become the lineage holder and Chief Instructor of Hand-to-Hand, a women-owned and operated martial arts organization dedicated to social justice and empowerment. She is currently the Head Instructor of Internal Arts.

As an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, Jen combines her expertise in medical theory with the practice of martial arts, qi gong and meditation to investigate the path of somatic healing and empowerment through movement.

She is a frequent invited instructor at martial arts conferences and TCM schools, and has taught this Qi Gong practice to many communities throughout the US and Canada.

Donation-Based Acupuncture Treatment for Disaster Relief in Nepal

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our Benefit for Nepal - donors, practitioners, and volunteers. Together, we have been able to raise enough money to shelter over 100 people in the remote village of Ghiling from the coming monsoons.

On April 25th, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed more than 8,000 people in Nepal and injured 19,000 more. In the village of Ghiling, over 30 homes were completely demolished with dozens more damaged and destroyed. Before the people have had a chance to rebuild, a second earthquake of 7.3 magnitude occurred on May 12th, rendering the majority of the buildings uninhabitable.

The people of Ghiling are in need of help. In addition to the devastation and fear they have experienced - and continue to experience as aftershocks rock the region - it is a remote village that will most likely not receive the international aid pouring into the country.

From now until September, the monsoon rains will be falling on the homeless survivors of Ghiling. Currently the temperature drops to the 20s overnight, and families are huddling together under plastic sheeting to stay warm.

For $150.00 USD, we can purchase a structurally secure tent that can house a family of up to a dozen people. With little more than the amount of money it costs for a night out in NYC, one can provide an entire family with shelter from the coming storms. Our goal is to raise enough money to purchase 40 tents for the survivors of Ghiling.

We hope that you experienced relief and relaxation from your visit to our clinic, and that you continue to be well. If you feel that someone in your life may benefit from an acupuncture treatment, or would like to donate to our efforts, please invite them to join us today and the remaining Saturday for the month of May from 10 am to 3pm. Together, we can help our sisters and brothers on the other side of the world.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Benefit for Refugees - The European Refugee Crisis

It is estimated that nearly 700,000 people this past year have fled their homes to escape war, violence, and brutality. The survivors have endured tremendous hardship and suffering, traveling great distances and under perilous conditions in search of safety and asylum.

These refugees fled their homes with little to nothing. Many have lost loved ones along the way. Now they wait with bated breath - on foreign land and relying on the kindness of strangers - to see where the future will take them.

We invite you to join us at Evolve Health + Wellness for our fundraising drive to benefit the people of the European Refugee Crisis. We will be providing donation-based acupuncture treatments on Sundays during the months of November and December. All the proceeds will go toward direct aid for refugees.

Donation-Based Acupuncture Treatments
Suggested Donations: $15-150, donate what you can
No appointments necessary, drop in days and times:

November 15 10:00am-3:00pm
November 22 10:00am-3:00pm
December 6 10:00am-3:00pm
December 13 10:00am-3:00pm
December 20 10:00am-3:00pm
We look forward to seeing you there!

What is Acupuncture?

Flashback to forty years ago and acupuncture was a truly foreign concept. It was little known and even less used in the Western world. It used to be that one could only find highly trained and qualified practitioners in places such as Acupuncture NYC, LA, and SF. However, current day use of acupuncture has become mainstream and the growing awareness of its effectiveness has ensured that acupuncture clinics and services can be found in most major American cities.

Acupuncture was developed and has been used by the Chinese for at least 3000 years as a reliable medical treatment, long before modern medicine as it is practiced in the West was even a concept. The basis for acupuncture is the belief that the body, through injury or illness, becomes unbalanced. Qi (pronounced “chee”) - thought of as the natural energy that flows through the body - is blocked and causes further problems. By gently inserting very thin, sterile needles at key points on the body, also referred to as meridians, the blocked energy is released and the Qi is allowed to move freely. With regular application the body is brought back into a healthy balance.

While many may still be skeptical of acupuncture’s efficacy, the support of acupuncture quickly grows with every new scientific study published. In 2003, the World Health Organization had published a Review and Analysis of Controlled Clinical Trials using Acupuncture up to 1998, and it lists dozens of conditions in which acupuncture was proven in scientific studies to be a suitable treatment method. Since that time, there have been many, many more studies conducted both in the US and abroad. It is no wonder more and more people are using acupuncture with all the ailments it can ease.

One of the most popular uses for acupuncture is to treat pain and for long term pain management. Conditions such as back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, headaches, and migraines are all effectively treated with acupuncture.

Besides pain relief, acupuncture is also beneficial at aiding in the treatment of multiple maladies. Illnesses such as neurological disorders, allergies, high blood pressure, skin disorders, reproductive and fertility issues, and even digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome can be improved through the use of acupuncture with a high degree of success.

It may seem overly simple to place thin needles on select parts of the body and expect drastic change, but that is exactly what happens. The results of acupuncture can give much needed relief to people suffering from various complaints. When there is someone who has been suffering for too long, and acupuncture delivers the help they’ve been seeking, those thin needles don’t seem so simple after all.

"Do you do acupuncture on your kid?"

I am asked that question, and variations on that question, on a weekly basis. And the answer is: Yes, I perform acupuncture on my son when he needs it. However, I usually leave it to his acupuncturist.

From the moment he was born - in order for me to focus on my duties of nurturing and comforting - I have entrusted his medical care to the people I hand-selected to be his health care providers, including an Acupuncturist who is a Pediatric Specialist. She has treated him for everything from infantile fever, to heat rashes, to sinus and lung congestion, and digestive discomfort. In fact, Chinese medicine has been the first line of defense for our household each and every time we've been confronted with illness.

Those of you who have received acupuncture treatment before are probably now wondering: how do you get the kids to stay still long enough for acupuncture? Well the answer is: we don't. The way that acupuncture is practiced on children is very different than on adults. The time in which we generally retain the needles is very short comparatively, and there are methods such as Tui Na medical massage or Shonishin techniques that use the same understanding of the body to treat disease, but without the needles.

Certain conditions require more than acupuncture. Chinese herbal therapy is very effective against common pediatric disorders. The correct intervention at the appropriate time can relieve symptoms immediately, accelerate the process of healing, and prevent the illness from causing further and future damage. The combination of acupuncture and herbs is a great way to ensure that children get over their illnesses quickly and as comfortably as possible.

It is important to find a practitioner who is trained and qualified to administer acupuncture and Chinese herbs specifically for pediatrics and the treatment of children. Much like there are different specialists in allopathic conventional medicine, there are different standards of training in Chinese medicine as well.

Prior to having my own child, I always felt blessed that I could help my pediatric patients and my nieces, nephews, and cousins whenever the need arose. Now that I have the responsibility of safeguarding the health of my son, I realize what a blessing it truly is to understand the power of this medicine. Here are some of the more common conditions that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can effectively treat:

Urinary Tract Infections
Bed Wetting
Recurrent Ear and Sinus Infections
Digestive Issues
Night terrors
Failure to thrive
Sprained ankles and other sports/play related injuries

If you have a little one in your life whom you feel may benefit from Chinese medicine and would like more information, please don't hesitate to ask. I am available to answer any your questions about Pediatrics and the treatment for kids using Chinese Medicine.

Before we had a location, we had an idea: to build a clinic that would serve not only as the home of our practice, but also as a space to elevate and transform education about East Asian medicine for both professionals and the general public alike. We wanted to create a central hub of ideas and innovation that would become a valuable community resource for anyone looking for expert, reliable, accurate information on East Asian medicine and how to best integrate it with other healthcare practices.

It seemed like a pretty lofty idea at the time, one that would require lots of resources and the help of many, many great minds. Not to mention, there was nowhere for this theoretical medical center to call home. As any New Yorker would tell you, the greatest obstacle in this city isn’t lack of brilliant ideas - it’s the lack of real estate.

Then, quite suddenly and with great serendipity, we landed in a space! An amazing space full of possibility, with plenty of room for our project to grow. Now the question was: what do we call ourselves?

Words started coming to mind about how to convey our intention. Words like: love, compassion, efficacy, reliability, education, change, expertise, and revolutionary kept resurfacing in the midst of all the brainstorming. I couldn’t help but feel like we needed something more, but somehow less.

Evolve: dramatically different, but in an effortless and organic kind of way.

For the individual seeking care, is it about acquiring the tools that enable one to adapt and grow in the face of challenges in order to achieve a healthy fulfilled life. For the physician, it is about transforming the way we have all practiced individually into a collaborative and cooperative group practice that becomes more than just the sum of its parts. Employing multi-disciplinary approaches to patient-centered care, each patient visit and each individual’s journey in healing becomes part of the larger instrument in changing the conversation on healthcare.

After months of careful planning and construction, we are ready to open our doors.

We welcome you now to come Evolve with us, in Health + Wellness.
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