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AcuBalance Center of Houston

Acupuncture & Herbs Healthcare Clinic, where ancient Oriental Medicine meets modern technology.

Anxiety Treatment at AcuBalance Center of Houston

At AcuBalance Center of Houston, the treatment of anxiety is acupuncture/auriculotherapy supplemented with herbal medicine, nutrition advise, relaxation, and life changes. The treatment modality comes from information and experience derived from both Western and Chinese Medicines.

Western Medicine:
The word anxiety comes from the latin word anxious, meaning a condition of agitation and distress. Anxiety Symptoms such as insomnia, heart palpitations, disorientation, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, choking, nausea or abdominal distress, numbness, dizziness, feeling of detachment, hot flashes or chills, fear of dying, fear of going out of control, etc, can sometimes be very confusing and scary to the person having these symptoms. Some people may confuse them with other physical conditions, such as heart disease, digestive disorders, or mental illness.

When several of the above list of symptoms happen at the same time, you may be diagnosed with what is considered a full-blown panic attack. Often times, you may also have developed symptoms of agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) in order to avoid the panic attacks, and you avoid going to certain places, or being in some social situations by yourself.

Depending on the symptoms, you may be suffering from different types of anxiety and your doctor may prescribe medications. The need for medication depends on the severity of the panic attacks, and the number of symptoms you are having. While medication may be needed in some severe cases, many cases of anxiety can be treated by other methods including cognitive therapy, learning muscle relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, gradual exposure to the feared situation, constructive ways of thinking to substitute the fearful thinking, assertiveness training, nutrition and supplementation, avoiding certain substances such as caffeine, nicotine, stimulant drugs (amphetamines, cocaine, etc.), salt, food preservatives, hormones in meat, sugar, etc.

To diagnose a person with anxiety, we must make a distinction between fear and anxiety.

Fear is something real and concrete that is in the external reality such as an object or situation. For example, you fear an exam, you fear your spouse’s reaction to something you are going to do or say, you fear an illness, an earthquake, etc. Something is actually happening or can happen. There is a factor of rationality.

Anxiety on the other hand, is more abstract and irrational. You have difficulty identifying the cause of it. The focus of anxiety is more internal than external. It is a vague, distant or unrecognized danger. You may feel anxiety about “losing control of yourself”, or have the feeling that “something bad is about to happen”. It is a physiological, behavioral, and psychological reaction all at once. On a physiological level, you may feel rapid heartbeats, muscle tension, dry mouth, clammy hands, etc. On a behavioral level, you may want to avoid certain everyday situations that you have identified as the cause of your anxiety. At the psychological level you may feel inadequate, have low self esteem, or feel shy to express your feelings because you fear disapproval from others.

In contemporary society it is normal to feel a certain level of anxiety which is appropriate for many situations in our demanding and competitive world. Also, there are some medical conditions which can trigger anxiety attacks including hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, mitral valve prolapse, reaction to excess caffeine or withdrawal from substances such as alcohol, tranquilizers or sedatives, and other conditions.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:
According to Chinese medicine, Anxiety is a chronic state of fear and uneasiness which may derive from many emotions including fear, worry, excess joy, shock, guilt, shame or pensiveness . These emotions, eventually lead to Qi stagnation and heat which with time lead to blood and/or Yin deficiency which agitate the mind causing anxiety. Qi stagnation and Qi deficiency deriving from stress may lead to the formation of phlegm which may obstruct the mind and lead to more severe anxiety or panic attacks. The symptoms of anxiety are very similar to the Western view.

Giovanni Maciocia, one of the most prominent writers and professors of Chinese Medicine in the Western world, noticed that there is also a constitutional tendency for anxiety, and he observed that there is also a familial tendency for anxiety, since many times he treated several members in a family who suffered from the same illness. He also mentioned that an irregular diet is another factor which may cause anxiety. Irregular eating causes deficiency of Qi and Yin of the Stomach which in the long run also affects the Heart and leads to Heart-Yin Deficiency and anxiety. Another factor mentioned in his book is overwork. Overwork depletes the Kidney Yin eventually affecting the Heart Yin and causing chronic anxiety. In Chinese medicine, any kind of imbalance in the body such as too much or too little of Yin, Yang, Blood, Essence, or Qi will cause illness.

The treatment of anxiety in Chinese Medicine depends on the diagnosis made according to the acupuncture meridians involved, the assessment of the pulse and tongue, the signs and symptoms, and other assessment measures acupuncturists use to determine the diagnosis.

Emma McKenzie, MS Psy., L.Ac.
AcuBalance Center of Houston

1. Bourne, Edmund J. The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 1990
2. Maciocia, Giovanni. The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier. 2008
3. Pharmacology, 5th ed. Harvey, Richard. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012

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Natural Treatment for Pain

I have been treating people with different kinds of pain. Some come with tingling and numbness in their limbs, others with migraine so bad that have to be driven to my place by a friend or relative, or with a back pain that prevents them to do their normal jobs. Physical pain causes them to have insomnia, nausea, constipation, light headedness, lack of appetite, irritability, and other detrimental symptoms which interfere with their job, their family, and their social life. Other people suffer from depression due to the loss of a very close person, or from anxiety which prevents them from doing things they want or need to do. Ninety or more percent of those who come for treatments also have very stressful jobs and suffer from different stress related illnesses. In short, most of the people who come to see me have some kind of pain. Sometimes a psychological pain reflects itself as physical pain, and needs to be attended to before it causes severe illness. Most patients get treated at my office with traditional acupuncture which involves the insertion of very thin needles in special spots in their body called acupuncture points.

Some people are afraid of needles, and they want an alternative method. In those cases, I treat them with LLT (low laser therapy) and other techniques available to acupuncturists. When we use these methods, we still implement the same treatments we do when using needles, but with a different instrument, and the results are the same. A significant number of my patients are getting rid of their pain, sleeping better, increasing their energy, and are being able to get more enjoyment in their lives.

The advantages of using acupuncture over medications are many, and they have been recognized by the World Health Organization and by many health practitioners in the US and many other countries in the world. When you use acupuncture you are not putting anything harmful into your body such as opioids or steroids, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories which may have severe side effects in the long run. Acupuncture is a holistic natural therapy which stimulates your immune system and body chemistry to heal your body and reduce inflammation and pain. At the same time, it regulates the production of some neurotransmitters and other body chemicals acting in the nervous system to promote your emotional health.

Try acupuncture for relief of your pain. Make an appointment at AcuBalance Center of Houston. Press the red Schedule an Appointment button in the upper right corner of this page and book a free interview or call 713 444 3249.  Become one more of my free of pain and satisfied patients.

Emma McKenzie, MS., MAOM., L.Ac.

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The Mind-Body Connection on Back Pain and Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Substance Abuse, and Stress

Today I came across a very interesting article about back pain. It is interesting not only as a health provider, but because I also suffer for back pain. It was no surprise to me to read about how it may have its roots in psychological disorders and stress. In essence, it gives some facts I want to share with you, and if you are interested in the mind-body connection, there are lots of fascinating articles and studies in the internet on this topic. Some that seemed interesting were writings from Shannon Harvey, Louise Hay, Deb Shapiro, Moises Velasquez-Manoff (When the body attacks the mind), Juan David Nasio (Los Gritos del Cuerpo), and many other authors who have written in the topic either from a physical or a psychological standpoint.

The article I am going to refer about was written by researchers in Angelia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK The researchers investigated low to middle income subjects with back pain in 43 different countries. They found that in those countries, back pain affected 35.1% of the population. One may think this is understandable, given that it involves the working class population, and they may have physically straining jobs.

What is striking is that those who had back pain were 2 times more likely than people without back pain to experience anxiety, depression, psychosis, stress, and sleep deprivation. Furthermore, people with chronic back pain were 3 times more likely to also experience a depressive episode, and 2.6 times more likely to experience psychosis.

In another study from the Hospital for Special Surgery in NY City, the investigators found that adults with spinal deformities showed that 36.5% also suffered from psychological disorders. Older adults (55-74 years of age) more often suffered from anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, whereas younger adults more often suffered from substance abuse. In conclusion, the study showed that one in three adults with spinal deformities also show at least one psychological disorder.

Both articles suggest that the link between these physical and psychological conditions has not been extensively investigated. There’s arguments on both sides. In other words, we still don’t know which condition came first. However, for us, as part of the population of people who suffer from chronic back pain, it is evident that we need treatment from any of these conditions sooner than later before it gets to where we have no choice but to get surgery of the spine, and/or tons of psychotropic medications with their inevitable side effects.

If you are one of those people who have chronic back pain and/or anxiety, depression or insomnia, make an appointment today at to get treatments and relief from physical and/or psychological pain.

The pain game: The connection between chronic pain and psychological illness by Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom(NA), OIM
Back pain may raise risk of mental health problems in low- and middle-income countries General Hospital Psychiatry 6th December 2016 209
Your Body and Mind Relationship, Revealed. By Ed and Deb Shapiro
Los Gritos Del Cuerpo. By Juan David Nasio.

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Foods that Prevent Allergies

I found this article today and thought it might help some of you. It’s always good to know some home care and preventive remedies.


Taking an antihistamine isn’t the only way to battle fall allergies. If seasonal sneezes — not to mention a runny nose, watery eyes and congestion — are making you miserable, there are some foods that might ease your pain.

Just know that none of these noshes replace traditional allergy treatments. “[They] have anti-allergic properties … [but] none of these can be used in place of medications in patients who have severe allergies,” Talal M. Nsouli, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics and allergy-immunology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told

But certain foods can help, which can be key for your health.

Fatty Fish
DHA and EPA, two types of healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and other sources, have been known to ease allergy symptoms. “If we eat foods that contains these omega-3 fatty acids, the EPA and the DHA, [there’s] an anti-allergic property [and] decreasing of the allergic reaction … to a certain extent,” Dr. Nsouli said.

Eating your omega-3s — as opposed to taking a supplement — is the best way to go about it, as numerous studies have shown that the health benefits of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats are most effective — or even only effective — in food form.

Mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, bluefish and herring are all great sources of omega-3s, Dr. Nsouli said. “However, one has to be careful because it has been shown that fish may contain mercury,” he said. For that reason, reach for fish that’s wild, not farmed, whenever possible, he suggested, in line with studies from the early 2000s that found higher levels of toxins in farmed U.S. fish than wild. (Although now, the scientific consensus is the health benefits of fish outweigh any potential risks.)

Plant sources of omega-3
Walnuts and Flaxseeds
Certain tree nuts, such as walnuts and flaxseeds, also contain omega-3 fatty acids; however, plants contain the ALA chain, which simply facilitates the production of EPA and DHA in your body. “One can eat one handful of walnuts, for example, this could be [equal to] about 3 to 3.5 ounces of salmon,” Dr. Nsouli said. (Although, in a perfect world, you’d eat both fish and tree nuts twice a week or so.)
Flaxseeds also contain selenium, a mineral that can help reduce an allergic response

An essential antioxidant
Broccoli, Cabbage and More
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in some foods, is believed to help reduce the inflammation associated with allergies. The thought is that it prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, or an allergic response.

Apples, onions, berries, cabbage, cauliflower and tea all contain quercetin

Fruits to reach for
Oranges, Peppers and Strawberries
Vitamin C is thought to help control allergy symptoms; like omega-3s, it’s best to get your C from foods, not supplements. Oranges, red peppers and strawberries are some of the fresh fruits best known for their vitamin C content. It’s also in broccoli and other foods that contain quercetin.

“Taking a vitamin tablets might not be as effective as having one or two oranges [or other vitamin C-containing foods] per day,”

“Having the vitamins in the foods that you eat is much more effective than saying, ‘OK, I’m going to take a multivitamin, end of story.’ It’s very important to focus on the foods that are fresh.”

Recently, a study — the most rigorous to date — demonstrated that garlic extract can help decrease an allergic reaction and can help prevent allergy by blocking the production of the chemicals that cause allergic reactions, Dr. Nsouli said.
Any recommendation for how much garlic to eat for allergies is at this point an educated guess, but Dr. Nsouli said two to three times a week might be enough to help. Garlic supplements are also available, but as with other foods, the health benefits are best when the plant is eaten directly

Some research has found that the probiotics, or bacteria, contained in yogurt reduce allergic reactions to pollen, helping the symptoms of allergic reactions in children Dr. Hakimi said it’s because these probiotics help decrease the body’s immune response to allergens, reducing inflammation in the body. Digestive enzymes can also help, he said.
But some individuals have reported issues with allergies and dairy products. If you think dairy might be a problem, try an “elimination challenge” test. Go off all dairy products for two weeks to see how you feel, then add in two or three portions of dairy a day for two weeks, and compare how you feel. During this process, it’s also important to check in with an allergist to confirm what’s bothering you, and explore other treatment plans.

Another spice
A native Indian spice found in curry and other dishes, is known to have a powerful anti-inflammatory response. You can spice your food with this brightly colored powder, or take supplements — it just depends on what works with your lifestyle.

An essential mineral
Foods rich in magnesium are believed to help control allergies. But it also opens up and relaxes the muscles, which can be beneficial as well.
High-magnesium foods include cashew nuts, wheat bran and kelp.


Thanks for reading. I hope it helps.


Emma McKenzie, L.Ac.

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Acupuncture for Weight Loss is Safe and Effective

Hi, here is another article that I found which follows my own line of work and  methods of treating problems with overweight. 

Acupuncture for weight loss is a very effective treatment. As most people go on a diet at some point in their life to lose weight, and ultimately fail to either lose or keep the weight off, I offer auricular acupuncture treatments an alternative method to lose weight that is both safe and produces results.

What Causes Obesity or Overweight?
1. Over Eating: Eating too much food is the number one contributor.
2. Lack of Physical Activity: Exercise, or at least some type of daily strenuous activity, is absolutely essential to ward off extra weight.
3. Unhealthy Foods: Most of us know what unhealthy foods are vs. healthy foods. The general rule is to east fresh foods and not prepackaged processed foods.
4. Lack of Sleep: Not getting sufficient sleep is a contributor.
5. Heredity: The genes you were born with and your family history are markers for whether you are predisposed to becoming overweight and possibly obese.
6. Medical Conditions: Some diseases can cause a person to become overweight. These include hypothyroidism, Cushing syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome.
7. Prescription Drugs: Some medicines such as Prednisone and antidepressants such as Elavil and Neurontin may cause weight gain.
8. Emotional Factors:  Depression, anger and stress can make people overeat.
9. Age: As people age, they tend to lose muscle, especially if they become less active. Muscle loss slows down our metabolism.
10. Pregnancy: While it is normal to gain weight during pregnancy, many women retain this even after the baby is born due to lack of activity and increased calorie intake.

Becoming overweight can be the consequence of various medical conditions. This includes hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
There are two well known medications prescribed by doctors. One is Meridia, which curbs the appetite. The other is Xenical, which reduces the absorption of fat & calories as well as Vitamin A, K and D.
Both medications have unwanted side-effects. Merida can cause hypertension and irregular heartbeat. Xenical can cause diarrhoea and osteoporosis.
Another option recommended by some doctors is surgical procedures. Weight loss surgery is called bariatric surgery and includes gastric bypass to gastric banding. These surgeries are very costly and can be risky.
Nowadays more and more people are considering acupuncture for weight loss as the results are very promising when performed by a well trained and certified traditional Chinese medicine doctor.
When it comes to treating obesity with Chinese medicine, I will first rule out any severe medical conditions that could potentially hurt my patient if they do not obtain immediate medical help (e.g. uncontrollable high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, severe lung diseases, hypothyroidism, etc.). Then I will confirm that the patient is ready to start my program which means they will need to strictly follow the instructions for treatment, diet and exercise.

Auricular Acupuncture
Auricular acupuncture to lose weight is the key. I chose the points of hunger and mouth which are the most efficient points for deceasing the appetite. Some other points are spleen, stomach, liver, small intestine, endocrine system and Sheng Meng (known as “Spirit gate”). These points can inhibit stomach activity, slow the absorption of nutrition from food in the stomach and small intestine, improve energy and decrease stress, anxiety and depression.  I will use ear seeds (herbal seeds or magnet seeds) in place of needles for those who fear needles. Generally speaking, they have the same effect. Patients should press the ear needles to ease their craving for food when they feel hungry.

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Weight Loss
Note: I will not use herbs to improve the bowel movement or loosen the bowel unless a patient suffers from constipation. And if I do use this type of herbs, this will only be used for a short term.
In my practice, I prefer to use liver cleansing herbs to curb feeling hungry (it always works for my patients) and improve sugar and fat metabolism. By strengthening spleen Qi, and regulating stomach Qi and intestine Qi, it will speed up the metabolism, remove water retention, eliminate the wastes from the body as well as enhance the energy. Weight loss starts from here and it is safe and efficient.

You either must eat less food or you must eat foods that reduce your calorie intake. For example, if you consume 4000 calories per day, then you should either set a goal of reducing the amount of food you eat by half, or substitute healthy foods that will reduce your calorie intake by half.
There are many programs offering to assist people through diet. I will just give a few tips on diet that could be practical for you.
Healthy and Good Breakfast: You may eat as much healthy food as you like for breakfast (within reason). You can consume some carbohydrates at breakfast without gaining weight. This meal will supply your whole morning’s energy.
Moderate Meal for Lunch: This is necessary to maintain energy for the afternoon. This meal should contain the most nutrients and contain easily digestible food with very little carbs. If after having lunch you feel sleepy and tired, it indicates spleen Qi weakness. This can be corrected by Chinese medicine easily.
Minimum Dinner or No Dinner: This is a magic point to loss weight if we can discipline ourselves to do it. Most people find out it is difficult to follow this point. So I will propose a few alternative ways to minimise your dinner. If you typically get home from work very late, you should have some healthy snack around 6 pm. When you get home, you are allowed to have soup with some vegetable. You can have protein at dinner with vegetables, but no carbs. Follow this for 4 or 5 days a week and at weekend you are allowed to have a full dinner with some carbs. But the dinner has to be earlier than 6 pm.
No Junk Food or Sugar, and Little Salt: Keep your alcohol consumption low and if you must drink, drink red wine. One glass of red wine 3 times a week is acceptable if you do not have a fatty liver. If any liver problems, alcohol is strictly forbidden.

Exercise Will Help Burn More Calories
Aerobic exercise and weight lifting are the best forms of exercise for weight loss. These will reshape your body and make you look great. Exercise should be done on a continuous basis (i.e. at least 4 times per week). Outdoor hiking and biking are also great ways to drop weight.

By Feng Liang, L.Ac.


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