Reopening Clinic and Protecting Patients

Reopening May 15th

I have had so many of my awesome patients texting, calling and reaching out on social media to see when the clinic is reopening.

You might be feeling like I am–yearning to get back to “normal”… But what will our new “normal” be? What does that look like for health and wellness?

Allen Acupuncture will be REOPENING on a reduced schedule May 15th!

Non-essential services are now allowed in Florida with COVID-19 screening and proper protective equipment. There is so much to get in place to insure patient safety that I will not be reopening until 5/15/2020.

I am so excited to reopen! I’m so happy to be able to help people feel better.

Sara Allen, AP, Dipl OM

Once open, there will be NEW SAFETY MEASURES in place (details on the COVID-19 Protocols page). I am also available for “checking in,” telehealth (online) visits, herbal pick up hours, etc…

What treatments are patients are looking forward to most on reopening?

  • Anxiety, Stress, Insomnia, and Depression. Many of you have expressed the emotions you feel during this “Stay Home” time. These can contribute to insomnia. Acupuncture can help!
  • Pain. Some of you are suffering with pain and missing your acupuncture treatments.
  • Fertility. People have been waiting to get back to improving their health so they can have the child they have been dreaming of.
  • Allergies. Patients have been struggling with allergies and are looking forward to their NAET-like treatments to clear their allergy.

Looking forward to reopening, I have added safety layers to the clinic. I have purchased PPE (personal protective equipment), hand sanitizers, AIR SANITIZERS, and cleansers.

I’m doing all of this to PROTECT YOU. And we all need to protect each other.

We can protect each other by wearing masks.

The latest data shows 50% of people with COVID-19 have NO SYMPTOMS. Another 30% have very mild (cold-like) symptoms. Another 20% have severe symptoms and may require hospitalization. And as of this blog post, approximately 2% of documented cases die.

The truth is that we have to assume that we are all asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. And this disease is spread by respiratory droplets–not just from coughing but speaking, singing, and laughing as well. So to protect each other, we will wear masks in the clinic. Everybody. All the time.

Is reopening SAFE?

There is NO WAY to guarantee a COVID-19-Free Zone. There is ALWAYS risk involved in leaving the house. Most of us have braved the Virus to go shopping for essentials or to go to doctor’s visits. Because of the additional risk, patients are required to sign an additional COVID-19 Waiver in order to receive treatment.

Anyone who is a “vulnerable individual” should STAY HOME unless it becomes medically necessary to come in. See the CDC info on what makes someone “vulnerable”.

Patients will be PRE-SCREENED before coming. If a person experiences ANY COVID-19 symptoms, there will be NO cancellation fee in this case. Once at the office, patients will be screened for virus symptoms before entering the office.

Mona Lisa in PPE

Once the clinic reopens, there are new, SHORTENED office hours with only one patient per hour (except for 2 family members). This is to allow for disinfection of surfaces and air between patients.

We are going through this together, slowly and safely. When you see me, you may not see my smile under my mask, but I have learned to smile with my EYES:)

If you would like to set up an appointment, please visit the COVID-19 Protocols page before calling or texting 561-285-8562.

Coronavirus Closing & Telehealth

Coronavirus has already changed our world.

While COVID-19, the Coronavirus, is spreading exponentially throughout our world, country, and community, we have all had to find a new “normal”. I hope this post/email finds ALL of you practicing “social distancing”, washing your hands many MANY times a day, avoiding touching your face, and with a healthy fear/respect for this disease.

NON-Essential Medical Care Suspended

For almost 3 months, we’ve watched coronavirus march across our planet, irrespective of age, celebrity, borders, or health. It’s sobering to watch the numbers climb daily (CLICK HERE to see the current world info, and HERE to find the current Florida count). We all must do our part and stay put!

To that end, the Governor announced yesterday that all non-essential medical services are suspended until further notice. That includes acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, and any other service that doesn’t “save a life” or prevent death. Indeed, this means that the clinic is CLOSED until further notice

It’s a good thing, really, because with so many untested people in our county alone, we don’t really know who might have COVID-19 and who doesn’t, who might have touched something you’re touching or coughed in the hallway before you came into the building…? It is MUCH safer for everyone to stay home.

Allen Acupuncture is HERE for YOU during Coronavirus!

There are options to continue care.

Many insurance companies pay for Telehealth.

I am able to do Telehealth visits using a variety of platforms. We could use Zoom or Skype (for new or current patients), or even a phone call (if you are a current patient). The main rule is that you must RESIDE in Florida, where I have my medical license. These visits will be shorter and at a reduced cost.

Telehealth Acupressure.

We can go over/demonstrate acupressure points you can massage on yourself to help boost your immune system, get rid of pain, improve digestion or sleep… There are many ways I can teach you through our Telehealth visit–after all, I was a teacher for almost 20 years!

Herbal Prescriptions.

Telehealth Herbal Supplements

We can discuss your history and symptoms. I may ask for your temperature, heart rate, or even to see your tongue. These pieces of information help me make a holistic diagnosis so that I can prescribe the right herbal formula to help you. Natural herbs are a FANTASTIC way to help your body heal while the clinic is closed. ALSO, there are herbs which help to boost the immune system, clear phlegm, lessen pain, and treat many other conditions. I can “drop ship” herbs to patients through several companies, or order “custom” formulas (teas) specially made for a patient’s symptoms and diagnosis.

Medical Advice.

I may have insight as to helpful supplements for your wellness, when to go see your primary care, or even if you should consider testing for coronavirus. In the state of Florida, I am a Primary Care Provider… I have to know who and when to refer my patients for care.

Group Classes.

There may be opportunities for ONLINE group classes to learn at-home treatments for various conditions. STAY TUNED for more information…

MEANWHILE…

Here’s my Wellness “To Do” List:

Lower Stress and Anxiety
  • Follow CDC guidelines for coronavirus. Right now, hand washing, social distancing, and staying home are at the top of their guidelines. These change almost daily, so stay current on their advice.
  • Get good sleep. This arms your immune system to fight, should you need to. In one bit of research on fighting the coronavirus, Melatonin may play a role in the immune response for this virus, so get some sleep!
  • Lower your stress and anxiety. Some of you may need to do a Telehealth session with me to help, but going on a walk outside (away from people), doing yoga or meditation at home are also great options. Turn OFF the TV or news if it’s raising your anxiety, get off the couch, and GET MOVING.
  • Eat HEALTHY. It has NEVER been so important! Our temptation when stressed is to eat unhealthy, fatty or sugar-laden foods. Drop the chip and have some soup, steamed veggies, or fresh fruit. Try to STAY AWAY from raw vegetables which weaken digestion (read a previous post about that HERE). Try NOT to eat after 6 or 7pm to allow your body to optimize digestion.
  • Take supplements. With coronavirus, there is a discussion as to whether Elderberry Syrup is helpful or not, and I will keep you posted as we learn more… But we do know they have been using Vitamin C in high doses to help those who are sick in China. We also know that taking Vitamin D, Zinc, and B complex are all helpful to keep the immune system in top shape.
  • Try Essential Oils. There are many that show anti-viral capability. Each brand has its own anti-viral mix. Most of you who have been in the office know I use Healing Solution’s “Health Shield” in my diffuser along with their “Breathe Blend” (from Amazon). I can think of no better pairing to help boost our lungs and kill viruses in the air of our homes. You can make your own hand sanitizer with essential oils, too (see Facebook video, although some information is outdated now).
  • Do something new, or something you haven’t had “time” to do. Restart that hobby you’ve been missing, read a book, write an encouraging note, finish that project, Kon-Marie your house… Choose to do something that brings you joy:)
  • Pray, connect with others, and have a positive attitude. All three of these have been shown to help people and to even help the body heal. Prayer can help us stop cycles of anxiety and bring peace in the midst of chaos. Prayer can help us have a positive attitude, which can make all the difference when we’re stuck at home. Reach out to others. Call a friend, family member or neighbor to make sure they have what they need emotionally, physically, spiritually. There are so many churches and houses of worship having online services, small group studies, etc… It’s easier than ever to connect on a deep level with others. Some us are alone while we wait, and others have a full house. We can be a beacon of light to one another in these times and mindfully connect with others on social media.

And if you suspect you have COVID-19?

Do you have Coronavirus?

Do you have sore throat, fever, chest tightness, or cough? It’s a very scary thought! Here’s the CDC symptoms “checker” website. PLEASE DO NOT SHOW UP AT YOUR DOCTOR’S OFFICE! Here’s the CDC’s Guidance for “What to Do if you might have Coronavirus”

The Florida COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 | 1 (866) 779-6121 | COVID-19@flhealth.gov; Here’s the link for contacting your Florida County’s Board of Health .

Hopefully, we will check in with one another over the next couple of weeks. My prayer is that all of you stay healthy and well while we wait.

Please feel free to reach out at 561-285-8562, sara@allenacupuncture.com, on Facebook: Allen Acupuncture, or Instagram: Allenacupuncture. I’m happy to answer any questions or help you get started using Telemedicine!

Health and Travel

Travel can benefit your health.

According to AAA, almost 49 million people are traveling for July 4th weekend this year. What are the health benefits and challenges of taking time off and getting a little change of scenery?

Health Benefits of Travel

Travel provides time to connect with others.
  • Time to Rest. With hectic, reachable-at-every-minute work lives, people have more stress than ever from overwork. Physical problems such as weight gain, sleep issues, depression and anxiety, and inflammation worsen with long work days with far too little rest. Most people also work on days off, doing chores and catching up on projects that couldn’t be done on work days. This means people are in great need of rest!
  • Time to Connect. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, vacation or time away is a great time to reconnect with people. Take time to have conversations with strangers or loved ones. Enjoy the human experience by connecting with humans and shift focus away from production. Your heart will benefit!
  • New views. There’s nothing that invigorates the mind and soul more that seeing or experiencing something new! Whether it’s taking time to notice something you’ve been too busy to see like a sunset or a painting, or if you’re actually going somewhere new, a change benefits the body and mind.
  • Unplugging. Take a break or lessen the use of technology. In all the recent studies on the uses of technology, the results are the same: all our online connections and media make us more stressed and anxiety-ridden people. Read a real book instead of one on the phone. Play a card or board game. Reduce your viewing time and have more conversations. The blue light in our technology changes the serotonin/dopamine balance in our brains–so restore your body’s natural balance on vacation by having less screen time!

Challenges of Travel

Travel can present some health challenges.
  • Exercise and movement. It’s important to get up and move every few hours if you’re driving or flying to prevent blood clots. And although resting is important, light exercise each day during your vacation will release endorphins to further reduce stress and cortisol levels.
  • Sleep. If you are already one of the 60 million Americans who suffer from insomnia and sleep problems each you, you may be dreading potential sleep loss on vacation. Bring along an eye mask to help darken a different room, and bring along a nightlight for the bathroom so the room stays darker when people get up in the night. Stay on the same sleep schedule you have at home. Avoid eating or drinking caffeinated beverages late at night. And if all else fails, try some herbs or CBD oil to help get to sleep when you’re wired.
  • Eating. Although it’s tempting to indulge on vacation, reserve the calorie splurges to once a day to help maintain a healthy weight and avoid digestive problems. If you do have stomach upset, a little ginger tea can help aid digestion.
  • The Unexpected. Try to have a positive attitude when encountering the unexpected–because it WILL happen. Whether it’s a travel or hotel problem, or traffic or an illness–let these experiences be part of the journey–and know that the things that go wrong often make the best travel stories when you get back! Take a few deep breaths, get a little perspective, and try to smile your way through it.

Allen Acupuncture on the Road

Follow our adventure on Facebook or Instagram.

The Allens of Allen Acupuncture are hitting the road for the next two weeks. Thanks to our house sitters for watching the 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish! And emergency acupuncture needs are being covered by Dr. Dongfeng Zhou of Zhou Wellness in Tamarac.

For the most part, we are trying to follow my travel advice with one exception: we want to take you along! Please follow our crazy cross-country travels on Facebook or Instagram! It’s going to be fun and full of adventure!

Share YOUR adventure!

And before we know it, we’ll be back, hopefully refreshed, and with a few more stories to tell. Be sure to comment on Instagram or Facebook and share YOUR adventures! If you want to set up an appointment, please call 561-922-7535. And if you want to know if your insurance will cover acupuncture, click HERE.

Cupping–Spring Cleaning for Muscles

Kids love cupping!

What does cupping have to do with Springtime? Spring is a time for new beginnings. For flowers and trees to bloom. For Konmari-ing the house. But what many may not know is that our bodies needs a little spring cleaning, too! (Keep reading to discover more and for a special discount offer!)

Spring’s energy has a direction, which follows the growth of seeds: the inside (seed) moves outward (seedling) in the process of germination. Some ancient texts also call the direction “upward”. The same direction occurs in our bodies. In South Florida, the direction may not be as dramatic, but as warmer temperatures arrive, the blood vessels dilate, and circulation moves closer to the surface so the body can better regulate the body in warmer temps and more physical activity.

As stated in a previous post about eating for the seasons, it is easier for the body to go WITH the nature of the season, instead of fighting against it. So, at this time of year, it is very beneficial to have cupping done.

Spring is the time for Cupping!

Cupping is the application of a cup-like device to the body with negative (suction) pressure. It pulls from the deep tissue (inner) toward the surface (outer). It follows the direction of Spring, and going with season is synergistic for healing.

Why cupping?

Cupping is an ancient therapy that dates back thousands of years. The first “cups” were animal horns, then bamboo or clay pots. The suction of the cups was produced by rapidly heating the air inside the cup and quickly placing it on the skin. The heated air creates the negative pressure to pull the skin/tissue into the cup. In modern times, this practice is called “fire cupping” and utilizes glass cups. Another form is with silicone cups. The last is with plastic cups with a valve at the top. A pump pulls a metered amount of air out of the cups; the advantage to using these cups is complete control of the suction on the cup.

Shoulder cups for pain relief

Cupping has many advantages. One relates to the negative pressure on the tissues. It is the opposite of touch. The pulling can release muscles spasms, break up adhesions, and, most importantly, pull toxins to the skin’s surface such as inflammatory markers, lactic and uric acid, and “old” blood residues that have been sitting deep in the tissue. The skin can better circulate these painful chemicals away to bring relief. Fresh blood supply can then come in to better heal the tissue. In addition, it can help the body release its own opioids for pain relief, and most patients find it very relaxing.

Cupping can also activate the immune and lymphatic systems and has been well-documented to treat skin issues such as herpes zoster, acne, boils, etc… Cupping on certain areas has been shown to clear respiratory infections and activate white blood cells to fight infections.

For more “scientifically worded” info on the benefits, please feel free to click on the following links:

Modern Cupping

Many celebrities and athletes advertise the advantages of cupping. Michael Phelp’s bruises in the 2016 Olympic Games announced the advantages of this therapy to the world. He used it to recover from strenuous workouts and the rigors of competition. In 2013, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and others have sported their round skin marks publicly.

What about the Bruises??

Cup bruises show underlying problems

First, let’s be clear: these marks look like bruises but do not hurt. Bruising with cupping is common, and each bruise type signifies a different underlying problem in the body. In a healthy body with good circulation, bruises can last 3-4 days. If they last longer than 7 days, the body has a circulation problem and may need acupuncture or herbs to help increase circulation. Here’s what the cupping bruises can mean:

  • Light purple: insufficient blood supply in the tissues
  • Dark purple or brown: old blood sitting deep in the tissue, also called “stagnation”
  • Red or brown flecks: toxins or “heat” in the muscles–the kind that sometimes cause the burning sensation in the muscle (don’t worry, the cupping doesn’t “burn”).

Cupping at Allen Acupuncture & Wellness

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Back-Cupping.jpeg
Cups for back pain relief

Typically, cupping can be included in an acupuncture treatment along with needles, allergy elimination, or auricular therapy. The tight or painful areas can be cupped, releasing the tissue and relieving the problem. Most people find it relaxing because it also releases endorphins just like acupuncture. Kids and adults LOVE it! Children as young as 7 to adults in the 80’s regularly request cupping along with their other therapies because it helps them feel better.

WHAT’S THE DEAL???

Here’s the DEAL! I think everybody should at least TRY cupping! To help expose more people to the benefits, Allen Acupuncture is offering a SPECIAL, 20-30 minute cupping session for only $35! That’s cheaper than a crappy massage!

Tell your family, friends, co-workers, etc… to call or text (561-922-7535), click or email Allen Acupuncture & Wellness for this special deal, now through May 15th, 2019. Make that appointment today!

Are Side Effects Making People Sick?

by Sara M Allen, AP, Dipl. OM

Why is a newly-released study on side effects so important?

How many prescription drugs does the average person take? According to a 2013 study by the Mayo Clinic, 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, 50% take at least two, and 20% take FIVE or more medications. Each of these have a list of side effects. The latest June 2018 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) studied the side effect of depression caused by taking medications.

When a new prescription medication is filled at the pharmacy, a long list of possible side effects accompanies the drug. How many people read the list? Pay attention once taking the medicine? Or have had a doctor follow up with questions about side effects? And sometimes, because the medication is “necessary,” negative side effects are countered by another medication with another list of side effects, which causes side effects that must be countered by another medication, and the wheel keeps spinning.

Every medicine has side effects, and it is unknown how taking multiple medications will potentiate or compound those side effects. In this study on the side effect of depression in JAMA, of the 6.9% of those in the study taking 3 or more medications that have a possible “depression” side effect, 15% of those actually had depression, versus 4.7% which were not on medications with the side effect of depression. This study showed that taking multiple medications with the same possible side effect increases the likelihood of that side effect. (It should be noted that this study excluded people taking anti-depressants for pre-existing depression).

What does the study mean for you and your medications?

  1. Make sure your doctor knows all of your medications and supplements. Make a list of medications before appointments along with dosages. If there are any known drug interactions, it is more likely they will be prevented if your doctor and pharmacist know what you’re taking. Ultimately, you and your doctor are a team to determine which medications you need to be on and whether any of those medications can be reduced or eliminated.
  2. Be educated about your medications. Read the packaging that comes with your prescriptions. Watch out for symptoms and side effects. Sometimes these effects are cumulative and may take a while for your body to express. And sometimes, as this study shows, less-likely side effects may be more likely when combined with other medications.
  3. More is not better. Not only are prescription medications expensive and drive up health insurance costs for everyone, but they have powerful, unknown effects on the body. Modern medicine is a very young medicine, less than 200 years old, and the long-term and drug-interaction effects of pharmaceuticals are too new to fully know. There are few studies like the one in this month’s JAMA which show how drugs may interact with each other. The FDA doesn’t require it, and it would be impossible to study how thousands and thousands of drugs interact when taking 3, 4… or even 9 different combinations of them. Therefore, limit your exposure to these interactions and side effects by limiting your medications whenever possible, and discuss your options with your doctor.
  4. Check out alternative medical solutions. The U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry makes over 440 billion dollars a year. Drug companies and pharmacies make money on prescriptions. Many of these medications just alleviate symptoms of a disease but do not help the body heal. Be willing to check out other options for wellness, which can lessen one’s dependence on drugs. These might include:
  • Diet and lifestyle changes. Let’s be honest. Change is difficult and sometimes inconvenient, but changes can bring health from the inside out. These choices are long-term, life-giving options that do not come with negative or dangerous side effects. For example, diabetic or blood-pressure medications may be reduced by losing weight and exercising.
  • Alternative therapies. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, chiropractic care, and physical therapy are a few alternative therapies that may help with whatever condition you are treating with pharmaceuticals. The goal of these alternative or integrative medical therapies is to help the body heal or treat the underlying cause of the disease or problem. Because these therapies are a process of healing in the body, symptom relief may not be as immediate as popping a pill, but with a little patience and determination the body can heal itself.
  • Herbal formulas, natural supplements, and essential oils. Many modern pharmaceuticals began as plant-based remedies. Almost every civilization on earth has had its special plants for certain diseases. The chemical properties of these remedies have been isolated and improved upon to target a disease or symptom. But what if the lesser-concentrated, holistic plant-package is actually less harmful to the body than its lab-concocted cousin?
    • Chinese herbal formulas have been safely used for thousands of years, and the herbs in these formulas are balanced with each other to minimize the side effects. Only an Oriental Medicine or Chinese herbal practitioner can safely prescribe herbs perfectly tailored to your body and symptoms.
    • Also, supplements can be taken to help the body function properly. Many supplements can take the place of over-the-counter or prescribed medications. Check with your healthcare practitioner to find out which ones might be right for you (and remember, as with prescription drugs, more is not necessarily better!).
    • One of my new favorites, which is actually very ancient, is the use of essential oils to treat certain conditions. When used as directed, essential oils are an excellent alternative to certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs (more to come on essential oils–stay tuned).

Many other side effects can be treated effectively with acupuncture. There are points on the body that help certain problems and symptoms and treat the body’s underlying condition. Whether a medication is causing depression, dizziness or diarrhea, acupuncture can help lessen the side effects of medications. No one should be stuck on the hamster wheel of taking more and more medications to combat the side effects of medications. 

(If you are feeling depressed, please speak to a healthcare practitioner, counselor or mental health provider. And if you are considering suicide or hurting yourself or others—please reach out to someone and get some help, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

Hope that’s some helpful information to help you have Better Health for a Better You!

Please feel free to call for your free consultation: 561-922-7535 or fill out this contact form: