Susan Wallace Acupuncture

"Let the beauty you love be what you do." Rumi

Busby's Corner Blog


Busby is our office cockatiel. He starting coming to the office in 1994, when he was a baby and has been commuting with me ever since. He is definitely the boss and a "cocky cockatiel" and we learn a lot from his example of cheerful confidence. Over the many years he has added each new person to his flock and is sure that you have come to the office just to visit with him. Some people do just that.

Busby is a good reminder about healthy habits. He has a rhythm to his day and he is happiest when his day unfolds in an orderly fashion. He always starts the day with a chirp to let us know he's ready to visit and he particularly likes to sing and practice his bird songs on his way to work. He likes to give a prolonged concert in the morning and afternoon. He particularly likes to have whistle contests with guests. He will start with a simple "you who" and then progressively get more complicated. He gets his exercise climbing around his environment and an occasional flight around the office. He likes to eat when we eat and he takes lots of little naps throughout the day. He has toys on the top of his cage that he likes to drop over the side to see if he can get someone to come over and pick it up for him. By the end of the day he is ready to go home and if we are working late he gets crabby and wants to be left alone until he can go to bed. Busby's habits are a reminder for me that we all need a regular schedule. We need a certain amount of rest every day, regular meals and enough exercise, relaxation and social interaction to be actively engaged in a meaningful life.

Busby's Newsletter
Number 5 March 22, 2010


Take Action to Reduce and Prevent Allergies

It is springtime and many people find themselves suffering from seasonal allergies. In my neighborhood the pine trees are filled with gold pollen that coats everything including your nasal passages. Allergy symptoms range from post nasal drip, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, headache, sneezing, fatigue and scratchy throat. Sometimes allergies can turn into a head cold or sinus infection if left untreated.

There are several things you can do at home to alleviate symptoms.  There are also other treatment plans I can develop for you in my office. If possible it's best to strengthen the immune system before the allergy season starts. I advise my patients to do a series of acupuncture treatments in the fall and winter to prepare for spring.

First let's start by examining your sleeping and eating habits.
  • Are you getting enough sleep? With our lengthening days and nicer weather we may not be getting the rest that is so important for our body's to function optimally. Eight hours of sleep should be your goal.
  • How about diet? Are you eating regularly and are you looking for food that is in season? If your body if working over time to process heavy or junk food you're hindering its ability to filter and process the pollen attack.
  • Have more energy to sustain your commitment to positive behavior change
  • Is your digestion working well? Now that winter is ending the first delicious greens are coming into the markets. All cooked greens are very good for strengthening and cleansing the immune system. My favorites are dandelion greens and stinging nettles. Other favorites are green onions, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi and green garlic. The bitter taste is needed in the spring as it helps cleanse the liver after eating the heavier foods of winter. The enzymes in the fresh greens help our digestion by producing bile.

Open Your Nasal Passages

For immediate relief of allergy symptoms first you need to get the nasal passages open. Anything with menthol in it will open up the nasal passages. Try Olbas Oil or the essential oils of pine, peppermint or eucalyptus. Just sniff it from the bottle or put a drop on a handkerchief and breathe in the scent.

Use a nasal rinse bottle which you can get in any drug store or use a neti pot. Make a solution of warm salt water using one cup of filtered or distilled water with mixed with ¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt. Follow the directions on the bottle and then gently squeeze the mixture into the nasal passages; this helps remove pollen from the sinus area and sooth and heal the inflamed tissue. If your nasal passages are bleeding the salty water will sting so use less salt. If this procedure is irritating in any way stop. Another option is getting a pre-mixed salt solution in a nasal spay and using that several times per day. One brand in the drug stores is called Ocean.

Vitamins that help allergies are vitamin C 4,000mg to 12,000mg per day, vitamin B5 also called pantethine 250mg to 500mg per day, and quercetin, a bioflavonoid, 500mg 2 to 3 times per day. All of these nutrients are antihistamine and strengthen the immune system.

If your allergies are more than a minor bother and you need daily pharmaceutical medication you will need a more comprehensive approach. Many patients find that their pharmaceutical medicine is not as effective after using it for a long time and have recurring sinus infections that needing multiple courses of antibiotics. A complimentary and customized program would include herbal formulas, nutrition counseling and a series of acupuncture treatments.

Custom Treatment Plan

I have worked with many patients with severe allergies and sinus problems and designed for each one a custom treatment plan so they could avoid sinus surgery.  Now they are feeling healthy during the heavy pollen season and very glad that they avoided having a major surgical procedure not to mention dealing with serious recovery time.  Call my office and we can discuss working up a prevention and healing protocol for your allergy and sinus problems.   Tasty Greens to Help with Your Allergies

Nettles and dandelion greens are two of my favorite greens for helping prevent allergies.  Fresh stinging nettles must be cooked and should not be touched with bare hands because the hairs on the fresh leaves have formic acid that will irritate the skin causing a stinging, itchy, red rash that can last up to 24 hours. It is unpleasant! I buy nettles fresh at the farmers market and handle them with tongs or rubber gloves until they are cooked. Once the nettles are cooked or dried the formic acid is completely transformed and will not sting. Nettles are a beautiful bright green when cooked and can be used like cooked spinach. There are Italian recipes that use nettles in pasta and pesto. I like to make a simple soup with broth and par boiled nettles which I purée. It's very nutritious, full of minerals, good for the immune system, dries up yellow mucus, good for seasonal allergies and eczema and it is delicious.

Nettles can also be purchased in dried or tincture form. To make a tea use a handful of dried nettles to a quart of boiled water and steep overnight then drink the strained tea throughout the day. It's very mild tasting. To use in tincture form use 2 droppers full 2 times per day as a prevention for allergies or 4 droppers full 2 times per day for acute allergy symptoms.

My favorite way to use fresh dandelion greens is to par boil them for 5-8 minutes then rinse and squeeze out excess moisture, next sauté the greens with garlic and shitake mushrooms. Serve with salt and fresh lemon juice. Dandelion can also be used in tea form as well.   

For more information you can contact me at my office.
Susan Wallace, L.Ac.

Busby's Newsletter
Number 4 Feb 12, 2010

Your Health Goals Will Take More Than Just Willpower

Most of us believe self control is largely a character issue.  However recent research suggests that willpower by itself is inherently limited.  Because the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the area of the brain in charge of willpower, can become easily overtaxed willpower can decrease dramatically when you try to do too much too soon.  Studies show that the PFC can be improved by focusing on 1 behavior change at a time which in turn can lead to other positive changes.  One such study asked college students to improve their posture and over the course of two weeks noticed other improvements of self control happened as a consequence.  The key take away here is that the PFC cannot process multiple requests to change at the same time.  Some of my patients who attempted to do too many health goals at once were not successful. 

Three tips to help you reach your health goals

1.  The brain cannot handle multiple health goals at once
For example, all it takes is 5 extra bits of information to decrease willpower in the PFC.  One study tested willpower by having subjects choose a fruit salad or a slice of chocolate cake while keeping in mind a two digit or seven digit set of numbers.  Those trying to juggle 7 digits were twice as likely to choose the cake over a fruit salad.  The solution is to focus on only 1 health goal at a time.  This way you not only start your health goal but continue to commit to it until it becomes a positive habit and is successful. 

2.  Calories do count but not in the way you think
Another study gave one set of students lemonade with artificial sweetener and the second set of students lemonade with sugar.  After viewing a video all the students were tested on several self control tasks. Those given the lemonade with artificial sugar, which had 0 calories, performed tasks less successfully than those who had consumed the sugar lemonade, which contained calories.  The conclusion suggests that calories are needed to supply the brain with food to function effectively and increase self control.  Skipping meals to lose weight or because you are too busy only makes it harder to maintain your willpower and will often lead to overeating or eating snack foods.  I recommend you plan your meals and eat at regular times throughout the day to maintain proper blood sugar levels, and nourish the brain so it supports your health goals. 

3.  Even simple exercise is important to maintaining your health goals
Exercise releases positive endorphins so you end up feeling better once you adhere to a regular activity routine.  By exercise I mean just doing some daily physical activity to start.  For example it could mean something as simple as a daily walk around the block or joining a gym.  Exercise activates the brain reward center which helps us feel good, improves our mood, helps us sleep better and stimulates the flow blood to nourish the brain.

Many of my patients talk to me about losing weight and ask if acupuncture alone can help.  I always make the joke that if acupuncture worked perfectly for weight loss by itself I'd be a wealthy woman.  What I do know is acupuncture can help sustain your health goals in these areas:
  • Become more relaxed which cuts back on anxiety induced cravings
  • Feel clear headed and better able to concentrate on your goals and daily tasks
  • Have more energy to sustain your commitment to positive behavior change
  • Improve your digestion which allows the body to efficiently process the food you eat

By combining the Three Health Goals Tips along with a series of acupuncture treatments, you will be better able to prioritize, stay committed and succeed with your health goals in 2010. 

For more information you can contact me at my office.
Susan Wallace, L.Ac.

Busby's Newsletter
Number 3 Jan 1, 2010

Happy Holidays

As this New Year begins I want to express much gratitude to my patients for their trust and encouragement.  You enable me to do the work I'm passionate about. I really enjoy partnering with you on your life's journey for good health and healthy aging. May the New Year bring you health and happiness.

What is health? 

In the modern world, our health care system defines health as having the correct test scores and metrics for medicine, disease and healing.  Knowing your test score is important as guidelines for achieving and maintaining the best health possible. 

But I believe in a more encompassing definition.  Health in not the absence of disease; it is the sense that one's life is rich, full and vibrant.  I think of a dear friend who lives in a nursing facility and can do very little physically for herself and suffers from Parkinson's disease.  Yet she is a tremendous inspiration and joy to her friends and fellow residents.  She has wisdom and humor that she can share with me and others.  Her western medical prognosis is dire, but her sense of self is that her life is often challenging but also busy and full of life that is fully enjoyed at the moment.  And she receives acupuncture and massage on a regular basis which helps her deal with her condition.

Health is not simply a medical condition

We've been conditioned to think of health as being another medical condition.  It's not.  It's the biological capacity to live a full rich life.  Health is a capacity; it is about what each person and their body is capable of doing.  It's a capacity that develops in response to what each person wants from life.  It's a capacity that develops based on what each person learns and knows.  It's a capacity developed in response to the circumstances in which each person finds herself, the circumstances she seeks out and creates on her own and with others.  In other words, health is about power not only to mitigate and care for infirmities but the power to take action that purposely makes life better. 

So for 2010 I will be focusing on helping each of my patients to achieve their fullest biological capacity to experience as rich a life as possible.  If you would like more information on how we can work together to achieve and maintain your optimum health please contact me at my office:

In health,
Susan Wallace, L.Ac.

Busby's Newsletter
Number 2 Nov 15, 2009

Vitamin D: The Super Supplement Cold and Flu Fighter

We are now deep into the fall season so I will continue to write about cold and flu prevention. Hopefully you are already taking some preventative measures.

I know that you are hearing a lot about the H1NI flu vaccine in the news and have concerns about whether or not to immunize your family. You will have to make that decision according to the best available information. What I'm not seeing in the news is how to stay strong and healthy. I have some recommendations based upon years of experience and some recent vitamin deficiency studies on Vitamin A and D. For example, at a Wisconsin care facility where 275 children live, they had been tested for Vitamin D deficiencies and were supplemented with Vitamin D. They were exposed to the H1N1 flu in June 2009 when a new resident, who was ill with the H1N1 virus, moved into the facility. Only 1 child came down with the H1N1 flu. However over 70 staff members who were not tested and had no supplemental Vitamin D came down with flu symptoms. People who have become ill with H1N1 and been tested afterwards have shown a clear lack of Vitamins A and D. Why does having Vitamin A and D deficiency make you more susceptible to getting the H1N1 flu? Mainly, these vitamins have been proven to boost immunity.

If I have not talked to you personally about Vitamin D and you have not been tested for Vitamin D levels then I want to tell you why it is one of the most important vitamins in the prevention of colds and flu.

Vitamin D is the "sunshine vitamin" because it is made in the body only when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Many people do not get nearly enough sun exposure and if they do they have covered the skin with sun block or clothing which prevents Vitamin D from forming. We have always known that Vitamin D is the escort of Calcium into the bones but in the last decade many more uses for Vitamin D have been discovered.

Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system. It can prevent colds and flu. Think about when we are getting colds and flu and it's during the darkest months of the year. Since the 1940's milk has been fortified with Vitamin D which was the first vitamin to be manufactured in a lab and added to our food supply. Vitamin D2 was formulated at the University of Wisconsin , Madison and it was very cheep to produce. The problem with D2 is it does not convert well to activated Vitamin D in the body and at high doses it can be toxic. The RDA recommended daily allowance was set at 400IUs which turns out to be extremely low. Now we are finding that due to our lack of Vitamin D and the inferior quality of the fortified foods, Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions.

What to do?

First of all get your blood tested for Vitamin D. I can order an inexpensive test for you. Ask me about this at your next appointment or e-mail me.

Second choose foods that contain Vitamin D. They are the foods with fat. Low fat foods will not provide Vitamin D. The food highest in Vitamin D is Cod Liver Oil. Other sources are deep water fatty fish like salmon, oysters, organ meats, egg yolk and butter. Fortified foods include dairy products and cereal grains but the amounts added can be erratic and if the form is Vitamin D2 it is not easily assimilated in the body. Also these fortified products need to be eaten with fat so nonfat milk is not going to help Vitamin D levels.

Last, take a supplement to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D. Like I mentioned first get your blood tested so I can help you determine your level of deficiency. Then I can help you supplement accordingly.

In order to get enough Vitamin A, the easiest way to do this is by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. Cod Liver Oil is also a source of Vitamin A. It is important to not to get too much vitamin A in supplement form as it can be toxic so eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies is the safest way to get Vitamin A in your diet.

In addition to consuming more Vitamin A and D think about what daily habits may be contributing factors in compromising your resistance to colds and flu:

* Do you get enough rest or are you trying to get by on 6 hours of sleep or less?
* Are you eating regularly or are you snacking throughout the day?
* Is your digestion working properly?
* Do you get regular exercise each week?

All the above factors sound very simple but they do take a personal plan and some effort to take care of ones self. I can help you by designing a personal plan to enhance your immune system to help you deal with the cold and flu season. Give me a call or discuss this with me during your next appointment.

In health,
Susan Wallace, L.Ac.

Busby's Newsletter
Number 1, Oct 15, 2009

I want to announce my new fall workshop, Healthy Aging, Prioritizing Your Self Care, a one day class for women Sept 19, 2009 in Berkeley. This will be an exciting, relaxing, experiential day shared with like minded woman who are exploring and creating healthy practices that will benefit our bodies and minds in the second half of life. I am delighted to be teaching this class with my friend and colleague Ondine Norman MFT who works with clients prioritizing life directions and finding a focus. The fee is normally $100 per person, but if you register with a friend to attend we will charge $100 for both of you!

Self Care Activities to Prevent Colds and H1M1 Flu

Fall is coming, school has started and this brings about the change in self care activities that preserve and enhance our energy for the coming winter months.

In traditional Chinese medicine the fall is the time of harvesting, saving and storing what the abundant summer has produced. This principal applies to the human condition in that we have built strength and muscle and vitamin D stores to serve us through the less active winter months. This is the time to build up the immune system in preparation for the cold and flu season.

Strategies for Self Care
First think of all the things you can do to promote your health during the fall season, like:

  • seeing an acupuncturist to boost your body's immune system
  • taking the right mix and dosage of vitamins
  • eating well and eating right
  • exercising to strengthen the body and reduce stress
  • getting enough rest to generate more energy and mental focus

These activities all enhance your immune systems and make you less susceptible to the colds and flu's that are just beginning to be circulated. In my practice I've found that my clients start reporting colds about one to two weeks after school opens.

I use two different kinds of formulas to prevent colds and flu's. The first formula is a Chinese traditional formula, called "Jade Wind-Screen" and is used for strengthening the immune system. It is very effective and has been in use for thousands of years. This formula should be started in late summer and be taken for two to three months. This will help protect you from catching colds.

The second formula I use I call "Prevent a Cold" and it is based on Yin Qiao Formula. It is used at the first signs of a cold such as sore throat, runny nose, slight fever or chills and body aches. This formula can stop a cold from progressing into the lungs. It is taken 3-4 times per day for several days to chase the cold away. If you wake in the early morning with a scratchy throat or runny nose start taking the herbs and monitor symptoms throughout the day while continuing to take the formula. If the symptoms go away stop the formula but be ready to start the formula again at the first signs of a cold coming back. You can do this for several days but if symptoms do progress to a full blown cold then a more individualized formula will be necessary. Whenever you take herbs pay attention to how it effects your digestion. If you have any digestive upset should discontinue the formula.

In considering the H1N1 influenza virus that has been reported in the news the most important first step is being as healthy as you can. Using the Jade Wind-Screen formula will help this as well as getting proper rest and nutrition. If you think you have come down with the flu you should also call your doctor.

In health,
Susan Wallace, L.Ac.