Acupuncture for Postpartum Recovery

Congratulations, your new baby has arrived! The days, weeks, and months following the birth of your new bundle of love can be both exciting and joyful. It is also a delicate, and perhaps difficult, time for any new parent. In addition to adjusting to a new heartbeat and member of your family, there is also much postpartum recovery needed for you, the new mama. All of this adds up to a challenging time!

Chinese medicine actually views the postpartum period as the “fourth trimester,” a unique opportunity to restore and rebalance the health and hormones of the mother. In light of this, here are some tips to give you the support you need.

Help During Your Postpartum Recovery

Armed with evidence-based information and a healthy dose of Chinese medicine, new parents can have a quick recovery and a satisfying postpartum period. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be really helpful for women recovering after childbirth. We support mothers at Lotus Leaf Acupuncture & Wellness Center during the postpartum period for a wide range of conditions such as:

Newborn Love

  • lactation insufficiency
  • mastitis
  • postpartum depression (PPD)
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • incontinence
  • urine retention
  • c-section recovery
  • emotional overwhelm & stress

Postpartum Nutritional Support


A congee is traditional Chinese medicinal porridge made from rice. It is seen as a powerful therapeutic food for strengthening digestion, boosting energy and aiding in the recovery from illness.

A basic congee can be made from using ½ cup of rice to 3 cups of liquid.

  • Congee with Gou Qi Zi and Da Zao

    This liquid can be water for a very plain congee, milk or nut milks (rice milk or almond milk) for a sweet rice pudding type of congee, or you can use vegetable or chicken stock for a savory congee. You may also prefer to use a ½ water ½ milk/stock mixture depending on your taste preferences.

  • The amount of liquid you use will determine the thickness of the porridge, which can be thick like oat porridge or watery like a soup, simply adjust the amount of liquid depending on your preference.
  • White rice is usually the grain used  in China, however brown rice can be used to give a savory tasting congee.
  • For a fast cook: Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or a Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy, about 1 hour.
  • For the traditional slow cook (my personal preference) use a crock pot and cook overnight, about 8 hours on low heat. You will need to make sure you have enough liquid for this.
  • For postpartum support I like to add Gou Qi Zi (Chinese Wolfberry Fruit/Lycium berries) and Da Zao (dates) to nourish Blood, strengthen digestion, and improve energy.
  • Eat and enjoy~

Motherwarming for Postpartum Care

This is one of my favorite self-care treatments that can be done in the comfort of your own home. You can read about it here. For now, I will say it has also been one of the most frequently used recovery methods in China applied to the postpartum mother for centuries. Simply apply moxa to your lower belly for 5 -15 minutes a day and receive the benefits of:

  • helping the organs of the abdomen recover after pregnancy
  • increasing breast milk supply
  • healing scars from cesarean sections
  • decreasing abdominal pain after birth
  • providing the mother with increased feelings of well-being, stamina and strength

Research: Acupuncture for Postpartum Recovery

Lotus Leaf Acupuncture & Wellness Center Welcome

5 Tips To Dissolve Stress Naturally


Most of us can attest to the fact that stress is reaching epidemic proportions in modern society. Balancing  family, work, health, money, etc. is a challenge that many of us feel ill equipped to face.

Eighty percent of the doctor visits in our country are stress related. Our quality of life and health is largely determined by how we adapt and relate to daily stressors. As a normal part of life, stress enables us to get things done. However, if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems.

Stressful situations that last over a long period of time can create an ongoing low-level stress that puts continual pressure on the nervous and endocrine systems, and can cause the overproduction of hormones. These extra stress hormones–particularly cortisone–over an extended period of time may wear out the body’s reserves leading to fatigue, depression, infertility, a weakened immune system, and a host of serious physical and psychological ailments.

Excessive stress not only takes its toll on our bodies, but strips the joy out of life and suppresses our creative instincts.

A Few Signs of Stress Overload Include:

  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • sadness or depression
  • irritability or moodiness
  • feelings of being constantly pressured, hassled or hurried
  • physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or chest pain
  • allergic reactions, such as rashes, eczema or asthma
  • sleep disturbances, either falling asleep or staying asleep
  • overindulgence in food, alcohol, smoking, or drugs

Without physical health, joy, and creativity, life can feel challenging. Dissolving stress is certainly possible, but takes a commitment to making lifestyle choices that create balance throughout our lives. Here are a few ancient techniques for eliminating stress, increasing energy, and improving emotional balance. These are some of the most powerful tools we have for achieving optimal health and preventing future disease, naturally.

5 Tips to Dissolving Stress Naturally

1) Meditation: Practiced for thousands of years in many Asian cultures, meditation has long been recognized as one of the most powerful tools we have for cultivating peace of mind and balance. Numerous studies have proven the incredibly positive effect that meditation has on stress reduction. There are literally hundreds of meditation techniques taught around the world. For beginners, the most helpful approach is to start with basic mindfulness techniques that develop both relaxation and alertness.

Once a basic ground of awareness has been stabilized, then more advanced meditation practices can be undertaken. Meditation is a practice that helps us identify with stillness and silence. It cultivates intuition and surrender. It can deeply help just about anybody, but is truly a miraculous practice for reducing stress and anxiety.

2) Gentle movement; Yoga, Tai Chi & Qi Gong: These ancient practices have also been utilized by millions of people throughout history. These practices are often considered a form of meditation which involves putting the body into a variety of poses in combination with intentional and directional breathing to induce mental clarity, increased energy, and physical strength and flexibility. The healing benefits of have been repeatedly documented by a variety of clinical studies at the NIH (National Institute for Health).

There are many forms of yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, and it is best to experiment to determine which form feels the most helpful for your needs. I highly recommend combining these practices with sitting meditation, as they work synergistically to induce deep states of relaxation and reduce stress.

3) Acupuncture: One of the pillars of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been practiced for at least 2,500 years. Perhaps one of the last truly holistic forms of healthcare remaining on the planet, acupuncture works with the Qi (life force ) of the body in order to induce a variety of therapeutic effects. The safety and efficacy of this practice are well documented which accounts for its incredible surge in popularity in the Western world. Acupuncture is considered one of the most powerful treatment options for stress reduction.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress. Acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

According to Chinese medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in throwing the immune system off and allowing pathogens to affect the body. Through acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed. By stimulating the acupuncture points on your body, a licensed practitioner can help stagnant energy flow more smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.

4) Herbal medicine: There are a variety of both Chinese and Western herbal formulas that have been clinically proven to reduce stress and create emotional balance. Herbs are much less concentrated than pharmaceuticals, which is why they have far less side effects (but can still be as effective). If you are interested in this treatment option, many acupuncturists can skillfully prescribe herbal formulas. I particularly recommend scheduling an appointment with a licensed practitioner rather than buying herbs over the counter, especially if you are someone with little knowledge of their intended usage.Chinese Medicine Bellingham

5) Nutrition: Eating a diet high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and low glycemic carbohydrates can go a long way toward healing stress. The standard American diet (high in processed foods, saturated fat, sugar, and transfats) has been linked to anxiety, depression, and increased stress in numerous studies. Change your diet to an organic, whole foods approach and both your body and mind will reward you beyond measure. Poor adaptability to stress is often a sign that our brains are starving for nutrients that we aren’t getting from our standard American diets.

You Can Resolve Stress and Get Your Life Back

Making these lifestyle changes may not be easy in the initial phases. It is often helpful to seek out the support of a health care practitioner to guide you through these transitions. Once you start feeling the enormous payoff of making such changes, there truly is no turning back. Your stress will dissolve, your weight will decrease, and your energy will improve, not to mention the preventative measures you are taking for heart health. Isn’t that enough to warrant making a few changes?

While it isn’t always possible to remove the external forces causing stress, the ability to effectively deal with stress is a choice. Take time for yourself to cultivate the energy you need to handle your stress more skillfully and effectively.


Yours in Health,

Cally Huttar, PhD, LAc


Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Menopause

Women are pillars of strength

Treat Menopause Naturally with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Chinese medicine views menopause as a natural process in life, a transitional period marking the cessation of menstruation in a woman’s body. Menopause occurs naturally between the ages of 45-55, beginning with a noticeable change in your menstrual cycle. This time of change may last a few months to several years, a stage called perimenopause, with symptoms varying from mild to severe.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have enjoyed a rich and extensive history treating a wide range of perimenopausal symptoms. This includes hot flashes and night sweats, in addition to insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, vaginal dryness, and irritability. Millions of women have successfully treated unwanted symptoms of menopause naturally with Chinese medicine through safe, noninvasive, and most of all, effective treatment for these often debilitating symptoms.

Menopause is a time where many women become Yin deficient, meaning that the cooling, moistening, and calming aspects of their physiology are weakening. You can read more about the various types of menopause on my website page here. The main treatment principles in Chinese medicine for menopausal women involves:

  • Nourishing Yin and/or Blood
  • Moving Stagnant Liver Qi
  • Clearing Heat
  • Calming the Spirit/Mind
  • Harmonizing the Yin and Yang

Stagnation that occurs over an extended time for weeks or months will generate heat which will burn Yin and lead to Yin deficiency. Yin deficiency and Qi stagnation can occur due to a number of reasons including:

  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise

While it is important to receive acupuncture, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of healthy food choices. This includes eliminating caffeine and sugar from your diet due to the inflammatory nature of these substances. This does not need to be forever, but at least until your symptoms are under control.

Acupuncture for Menopause

Acupuncture is a balancing therapy. The thin stainless steel needles used during treatment disperse Qi and Blood that is stagnant or nourish Qi and Blood that is deficient.

Many women report feeling better right after the needles are inserted, bringing them immediate relief and a sense of calm. The needles are actually opening certain areas that have become stagnant, which has created a build up of heat. Certain points are also used that have a direct effect on nourishing Yin, thereby rejuvenating the cooling and moistening aspects of one’s physiology.

Chinese Herbs for Menopause

Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to create a state of continuity between treatments. I would highly recommend committing to this approach before using hormone therapy, as these natural options are free of side effects. Hormone therapy is quite controversial in terms of its long-term effects. While it has worked wonders for many women in the short-term, I have read references to increased incidence of ovarian cancer, fibrocystic breasts, and emotional fluctuations, therefore I cannot give it a raving endorsement.

Below is a list of several Chinese herbal formulas that I prescribe to treat hot flashes, night sweats, accompanied with various patterns of fatigue, irritability, vaginal dryness, anxiety, headaches, and digestive disturbances:

  • Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan:  This formula is a Kidney Yin tonic that clears Heat, which includes symptoms of low back pain, scanty dark urine, and low energy. It is safe, gentle, and can work well if it matches the patient’s constitution.
  • Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan: This formula addresses hot flashes that are due to a Liver Depressive Heat pattern, which would include symptoms such as irritability, depression, high stress, red eyes, headaches, and indigestion.
  • Da Bu Yin Wan: This formula is for a pattern called ‘steaming bone syndrome’ in which the hot flashes feel as if they are penetrating into the depths of one’s bones. It is a Kidney Yin tonic that utilizes herbs that penetrate deep into the body to Clear Heat.
  • Tian Wan Bu Xin Dan: This formula is for a combination of Heart and Kidney Yin deficiency, which will manifest with symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, thirst, and malar flush.
  • Er Xian Tang: This formula is for a combined pattern of Kidney Yin and Yang deficiency. Symptoms include a history of feeling cold with recent onset of hot flashes, low libido, fatigue, and low back pain.

It is important to keep in mind that herbs will only work if they address your specific constitutional pattern, rather than only your symptoms. It is important to have an evaluation and diagnosis from a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner before taking any Chinese herbal formulas.

Emotional Support

Most noteworthy, it is also natural to feel heightened emotions as you experience the sensations of heat, stagnation dryness, sleeplessness and fatigue. As a holistic and complete medical system Chinese medicine also addresses issues of depression and anxiety, as well as, anger, worry, and grief. Let your practitioner know about these underlying emotional concerns so that they can tend to your full body mind and spirit.


Finally, the research showing the benefits of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms has been extensive. Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and insomnia tend to respond very well to treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. This is especially true when they are used together. These are a few important studies that show the benefits of using Chinese medicine for menopause:

  1. Cong HF, Gu XM & Wu WP. (2015). Clinical Observation of Acupuncture plus Medication for Perimenopausal Syndrome. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 34(4).
  2. Li Y & Huang KJ. (2014). TCM prescription in treating perimenopausal syndrome, 50 cases. Journal of Liaoning College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 16(5): 203-205.​​
  3. Tan KP, Yao X, Li XW. Observation on clinical effect of acupuncture plus Zi Shen Tiao Gan Decoction for perimenopausal insomnia. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2015, 13 (1): 49-53. DOI: 10.1007/s11726-015-0822-1.
  4. Li, Rui-li, Jin-ying Fu, Ying-ying Deng, Wen-juan Shen, Hong-li Ma, Wei Li, and Xiao-ke Wu. “Review of acupuncture treatment for perimenopausal syndrome.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 2, no. 13 (2015): 129-133.
  5. Shang YJ, Bhang Y, Kong LL, Wang YY, Wang DS, Li J. Clinical observation on combination of source point and Back-Shu point for treatment of perimenopausal syndrome. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, 2009, 29(6): 444-448.
  6. Qin ZY, Ling H, Xia XH, Meng L, Wu ZJ. Effects of electroacupuncture of Sanyinjiao (SP 6) on genito- endocrine in patients with perimenopausal syndrome. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, 2007, 32(4): 255-259.

In conclusion, I highly recommend seeking out the help of a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist to treat menopausal symptoms. I have worked for over twenty years in women’s healthcare, and particularly with women as they transition through menopause. Contact our clinic today if you are interested in scheduling an appointment. We would love to help you.

Yours in Health,

Cally Huttar, PhD, LAc