All posts by Ryan Less

A Head cold enters the Lungs

A patient recently came down with a head cold. She had the common presentation: nasal congestion, chills, fatigue, general malaise, and possibly a low fever.

After a few days of this, she contacted me because she simply couldn’t seem to shake the cold and it had started to enter her lungs. By the time I was able to see her, the symptoms had changed. Now, the illness had entered her lung. The symptoms were mainly a cough that might be categorized as “chesty” or a wet cough. While her nose had cleared up, ther lungs were now producing a yellow sticky phlegm that was moderately difficult to expectorate. The chills were gone, the cough was more frequent and kept the patient up all night. The fatigue was increasing, and the patient also developed a significantly painful sore throat.

Infectious type situations such as this, are better suited for treatment with herbal medicine than acupuncture. In this case, the patient was given a combination of two formulas plus one extra herb was added in. The herb formulas were Sang Ju Yin (aka Mulberry and Chrysanthemum Decoction) and Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan (aka Clear the QI and Transform Phlegm). The first formula is particularly indicated for sore throat with a cough. The herb ban lan gen (radix isatidis) was added in because it has excellent antiviral properties, and more specifically it is fantastic for treating sore throat. The other formula, Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan, is excellent for lung congestion and cough when there is yellow and/or green phlegm that is sticky and may be difficult to expectorate. It is said to treat the pattern of imbalance called phlegm heat in the lungs in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

So, what actually happened? Within 24 hours the patient reported that her sore throat had completely resolved, and that the phlegm became much easier to expectorate ( ie cough up and spit out). Upon further questioning, she stated that her lungs felt much clearer, breathing was easy, and she said, “I’m still tired but its not that type of tired you get when you’re sick, but just the type of tired you feel when you havent slept enough”. She went on to say that she could tell her body had beat the “bug” and now just needed to rest and recuperate.

Success in 3 Cases of Knee Pain

In the last week, 2 different patients came in presenting with knee pain.  The first patient had pain on the medial side (inside of the leg) of their right knee. The pain was related to slipping on a hike.

In this first case, the knee pain was aggravated by both pressing on the area with even mild pressure, and also by going from a sitting to a standing position.  Acupuncture was given by using points in the lower leg as well as placing needles in points on the opposite arm near the elbow. After the needles were removed, there was still some soreness when the knee was pressed. At this point, I then employed a manual technique called PNT. This technique utilizes a very gentle pressing perpendicular to the muscles which run through the knee area. Immediately after, the patient tested the knee by sitting and moving to a standing position. She reported that all pain was completely gone, and the remaining soreness that occurred with pressure was also gone.

In the second patient with knee pain, there was significant soreness and pain just above the knee. Acupuncture needles were gently inserted into the opposite elbow area at points P3, Lu5, and LI11. The patient was then instructed to move the leg, flexing and extending the knee. She immediately reported that there was no longer any pain. Next she tested the knee by walking, and still no pain returned at all!

In both cases, I Ching/Balance Method style of acupuncture was used with good effect.  This is a particular type of acupuncture which typically gives instant pain relief for many types of pain.  As we mentioned, the first patient also needed some manual therapy. PNT is a simple manual technique which is very gentle, and utilizes the body’s own neurologic reflexes to ‘reset’ the muscles.

In many simple cases of knee pain, quick relief can be gained. When a patient has very advanced arthritis, such as when cartilage is completely worn away, and bone is rubbing on bone, then these techniques typically do not provide real relief. However, for mild to moderate arthritis, tendonitis, or bursitis, these techniques have been extremely effective in many patients who have come to New England Acupuncture.

For some people, simple nutritional therapies may also be helpful for joint pain, such as knee pain.  In a third patient who came in for bilateral knee pain (pain in both knees), and had a prior diagnosis of osteoarthritis from her doctor,  we have been able to almost completely eradicate her knee pain, even though she had been suffering pain for years before coming to the clinic.

In her case, we did a course of acupuncture treatment with excellent results. Still, there was a small flare up many months later. Along with a few more acupuncture treatments, it was suggested that she purchase some beef gelatin powder and take some daily. Recently, when the patient came in for a general ‘tune up’ treatment, she reported that the gelatin has been highly beneficial, and she is able to be active without pain in either knee, and also reported that the gelatin has improved her skin, hair, and nails.

These 3 cases of recent patients exemplify how simple and gentle treatments can significantly erase pain and return individuals to a more active lifestyle.

Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies (Allergic Rhinitis)

If you are a sufferer of seasonal allergies, then you are familiar with itchy red eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing, and the fatigue that often goes with it. Fortunately, there are a great number of natural remedies available that can help manage. Once allergy symptoms have kicked in during a given season, treatment will focus first on getting immediate relief. However, during periods of ‘remission’, ie outside of allergy season, treatment can aim directly at treating some of the potential underlying causes of allergies. There is significant evidence to connect digestive issues with respiratory allergies (1)(2)(3) This is not surprising since the majority of our immune system is found within the gut, and seasonal allergies are generally an over reaction by the immune system. Therefore, in patients with poor digestive health such as IBS, bloating, gas, constipation, addressing these issues may also  help reduce and prevent allergy symptoms. Possible interventions for this could include herbal therapies, probiotics, supplementation with zinc, glutamine, or other supplements beneficial to the lining of the gut.

Other factors may also play a contributing  role in the development or worsening of allergies. According to research published by the Mayo Clinic,  individuals with chronic sinusitis are likely to have fungal infections in the sinuses (4). So, treatment to resolve this  issue could certainly play an integral role in improving sinus health for some patients.  Of course, there may be a wide variety of other factors contributing to a person’s seasonal allergies.  This can be determined more precisely during a patient visit.

Whether a person chooses to address these underlying issues or not, symptom relief during allergy season is something our patients always appreciate.  There are a number of herbal formulas which effectively reduce symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and fatigue. Which herbal product is best depends on the specifics of each individual. Some people may have significant itching and redness of the eyes, while another person may suffer more from sneezing and sinus pressure.

One of the most common products used for seasonal allergies is Pe Min Kan Wan (Nasal Allergy Pills). It contains herbs which are antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, as well as herbs traditionally used for red irritated eyes. For individuals who experience not only stuffy nose, but also allergy headache, a classic time tested formula, Xin Yi San (Magnolia Flower Powder) often alleviates symptoms very effectively. A common supplement which research indicates can reduce allergy symptoms is quercetin, a commonly occurring bioflavonoid (5). Quercetin is actually plentiful in a healthy diet, as it occurs in foods such as onions, grapes, tea, and many vegetables such as broccoli; one more reason why eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is health promoting. Additionally, quercetin may be beneficial for those who suffer from allergy induced asthma (6). If you, or someone you know, deals with seasonal allergies, there are an abundance of natural therapies which may help. Simply call and set up an appointment here at the clinic to discuss which options will work best for you.

1)EBioMedicine. 2015 Nov 27;3:172-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.11.038. eCollection 2016

2)Annals Am Thorac Soc. 2016 Mar;13 Suppl 1:S51-4. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201507-451MG

3)Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2015 Jul;27(4):373-80. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000191

4)Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic Study Implicates Fungus As Cause Of Chronic Sinusitis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 1999.

5)Molecules. 2016 May 12;21(5). pii: E623. doi: 10.3390/molecules21050623 6)Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 Mar;9(3):261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2008.10.021. Epub 2008 Dec 4

6)Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 Mar;9(3):261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2008.10.021. Epub 2008 Dec 4


Coconut Risotto

Sweet, creamy, and fragrant risotto.  Ready in 20 minutes.

Serves 4 Coconut on the leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 tomato, diced
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Heat broth to just below simmer.

In a medium saucepot, sweat diced onion in olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low.

Add the risotto rice, and stir with a wooden spoon to coat it in the butter. Slowly add the chicken broth in 2 equal portions, not adding the second addition until the first has been almost completely absorbed.

Stir constantly during the entire process. After all of the chicken broth has been absorbed, add the coconut milk, and then add enough of the braising liquid until the risotto is cooked to your taste.

Fold in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, tomato, and herbs. Serve immediately.

Garnish with parsnip chips or fried shallots, if desired.

Dino Kale and Cranberries

High in iron and minerals, dino kale is a powerful vegetable.  Couple it with cranberries packed with anti-oxidants and you have a healthy and tasty side dish.

Difficulty = Easy
Serves 6

6 cups dino kale, stemmed and cut into small, bite-size pieces
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
salt to taste

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, red pepper flakes and cranberries.
  2. Stir 10 seconds, and add the kale and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté until tender.
  3. The water that adheres to the greens should be enough water to cook them. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water to finish cooking.

Avocado and Papaya Salad

This dressing is so delicious you will want to pour it on everything.

Serves 8Avocado Papaya Salad

2 Florida avocado, peeled and cut into large dice
2 ripe papaya, peeled and cut into large dice
1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 bunch baby arugula
4 tablespoons tarragon leaves
Orange and Vanilla Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Layer salad with arugula and tarragon, then avocado, papaya and onions. Finally drizzle with vinaigrette.

2 cup orange juice
2 vanilla bean, split
2 garlic clove, pureed with knife
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper

To a saucepan add orange juice, split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into juice. Add vanilla bean to juice, bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by 2/3.

Meanwhile, smash garlic clove with a pinch of salt using flat side of a knife.

Allow orange juice reduction to cool, remove vanilla bean, then add garlic puree, rice wine vinegar and olive oil. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a highly effective therapeutic technique that has been developed and refined over thousands of years.  This was done by the brightest and best scholars of China, during each era, as well as in other countries around the world, and continues even to this day.

Acupuncture therapy works by tapping  directly into the body’s natural innate healing ability.  It does this through the comfortable insertion of  hair thin needles at certain points.  As the needle is gently and safely inserted into your body, healthy signals are conducted which essentially redirect your body’s energy.  This initiates a process by which therapeutic benefits, enhanced higher level functioning of the body and mind, and resolution of health issues can be achieved.

A concrete example will help you to get an even crisper clearer understanding.  To grasp the intriguing concepts behind the acupuncture technique, you can take a look in our case study section.  There you will find real life examples of how patients here at New England Acupuncture & Herb Clinic have gained success through acupuncture.

Swine Flu Prevention (H1N1)

The following message from Dr. Vinay Goyal is sound advice for preventing H1N1 infection as well as avoiding many contagious illnesses.

The only portals of entry are the ears, nostrils, and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it’s almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

Wash hands with soap1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications) .

2. “Hands-off-the- face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.  In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one.   Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

Neti pot4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral populations. *

5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.Vitamin rich foods

6. *Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

I suggest you pass this on to those you love. You never know who might pay attention to it – and STAY ALIVE because of it.

— Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MBBS, DRM, DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital , Bombay Hospital , Saifee Hospital , Tata Memorial etc.. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts

A crisp, sweet, and peppery salad.  Full of flavor and nutrition with roasted beets for soft texture with concentrated sweetness and packed with vitamins and minerals especially beneficial to the liver.

Difficulty Level = Easy
Serves 2

  • 4 small beets (slightly larger than an extra large egg)
  • 3 – 4 cups baby arugula, washed and drained
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 – 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F

Wash and trim beets.  Cut in half.

Place beets on sheet of foil, drizzle with 1 – 2 tbs olive oil, season with 2 pinches salt and 1 pinch pepper, and toss to coat.  Pull thyme from steams and sprinkle on beets.

Fold the edges of the foil to create an envelope to allow the beets to steam in their own juices.  Place in oven.  Cook for 45 –  60 minutes until beets are tender.

While beets are roasting, place walnuts in dry skillet, over medium heat.  Toss occasionally, until the nuts begin to show a golden color and become fragrant.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Remove beets from oven and allow to cool.

Peel skin from beets with small paring knife.  Cut beets into bite-sized portions (cut each 1/2 into halves or thirds).

In large bowl, place arugula, walnuts, and beets.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with remaining oil and vinegar.   Toss