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Acupuncture and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Acupuncture and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoDo you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), an estimated 25-45 million people in the United States have IBS(1). This all-too-common disease is characterized by chronic stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, excess gas, and irregular bowel movements. While there's no known cure for IBS, however, acupuncture may offer relief.

A recent study conducted by researchers in the U.K. found acupuncture to offer relief of IBS symptoms. For the study, researchers split 233 IBS patients into two groups, one of which receive acupuncture plus the usual care, while the second group strictly received the usual care.

Researchers in the study(2) conclude...

"Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome provided an additional benefit over usual care alone. The magnitude of the effect was sustained over the longer term. Acupuncture should be considered as a treatment option to be offered in primary care alongside other evidenced based treatments."

So, how is this Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) able to treat IBS? Traditional Chinese belief states that our bodies have an active energy force (Qi) which connects our organs and vital systems. Normally, Qi flows without obstruction, traveling along defined paths known as the meridian system. When a blockage occurs within the body, blood becomes stagnant and systems are vulnerable to disease and illness, which is where acupuncture comes into play.

 Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, ColoradoAcupuncture involves the placement of thin needles in specific areas of the body, rightfully known as acupuncture points. While the exact number of acupuncture points has fluctuated over the years, TCM practitioners give the ballpark figure of roughly 2,000, all of which are spread across 12 major meridians and 8 secondary meridians. The primary function of acupuncture is to restore Qi by correcting blockages in the meridians. When Qi begins to flow, diseases and health conditions such as IBS correct themselves.

Will acupuncture cure your IBS? There's not enough evidence to definitively say that it's a cure for IBS. However, numerous studies, including the one cited above, attest to the healing power of acupuncture. Whether you experience minor or severe symptoms as a result of IBS, you should consider seeking acupuncture. It's a safe, painless and highly effective way to treat a wide variety of diseases, only one of which is Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Give me a call today to learn how you can get back on track to better health!

1. http://bit.ly/1PNYPh1

2. http://bit.ly/1OC2jBG

Acupuncture: A Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

by Gretchen Belenchia

Acupuncture: A Part of a Healthy Lifestyle, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, Colorado

As an acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner, I often get asked questions such as:
Can acupuncture treat this?
What about that?
My friend has this - can you help her?

All of these questions have one thing in common: the person at issue already has a health concern or condition that they are experiencing in their life and would like addressed. The way that we often think about medicine and healing is reactive.

We typically react to a condition that we can no longer ignore, usually because it has disrupted our quality of life in some way. There is often little emphasis on prevention, and with our busy lifestyles, health imbalances can sneak up on us while we are focused on other things.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, ColoradoHealth imbalances can go undetected for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years until they manifest in symptoms that we can no longer ignore.

These symptoms can take the form of a cold or flu, back pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, chronic cough, fibromyalgia, and other conditions that can deeply impact our quality of life.

While Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, can indeed help to treat all of these health concerns, one of the primary reasons I began to study Chinese Medicine 10 years ago was its strong emphasis on prevention.

Chinese Medicine practitioners use diagnostic tools to detect slight imbalances in the body and then use acupuncture and other interventions to correct these imbalances. Many imbalances may not have manifested in a recognizable symptom and most likely will not be detectable on any diagnostic tests performed in a Western medical facility.

The diagnostic tools and treatment methods of Chinese Medicine enable practitioners to treat disease before it occurs - also known as prevention.

There are quite a few people that come into our practice for preventative acupuncture treatments once or twice a month. Some people are focused on whole-body wellness and are treated for preventative purposes only. Others may not have an acute complaint, but may be feeling slightly out of balance and seek to prevent a worsening of this imbalance.

Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoThese regular acupuncture treatments are so important because even when we do all of the right things: eat wholesome and organic food, exercise regularly, manage our stress – we can still become out of balance due in large part to our polluted environment.

The world we live in everyday is full of pollutants that we cannot escape – car fumes, general air quality, pesticides, insecticides, as well as all of the various electromagnetic waves that are traveling through our bodies at any given time (e.g. radiowaves, cell phones, wi-fi, computers, televisions, etc).

Because we are exposed to these environmental pollutants everyday, we need to consider all that we can do and include in our life to promote health and healing in our bodies and combat the impact of our environment.

Incorporating acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatments into your personal wellness and prevention program can give you a better chance to catch imbalances earlier and promote healing and balance in your life.

Making acupuncture and Chinese Medicine a part of your healthy lifestyle promotes wellness, healing, and balance – and can keep you feeling your best as you move through your life.

Who doesn’t want that? Make acupuncture and Chinese Medicine a part of your life today. Call 303-506-0622 to find out more.

 Acupuncture: A Part of a Healthy Lifestyle, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, Colorado

Have You Tried Chinese Medicine Yet?

by Gretchen Belenchia

Explore a New Path of Healing with
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Have You Tried Chinese Medicine Yet?, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, Colorado

All of us love choices. We love the ability to choose. We love the freedom to choose. But we cannot exercise our right to choose if we don’t know all of our options.

This is especially true when it comes to your health and your healthcare options. Most of us grew up going to a Western allopathic doctor for everything. We are in the habit of thinking of only this one option for all of our healthcare needs. While Western allopathic medicine is indeed the first choice for many, it is not the only choice out there when it comes to meeting your healthcare goals.

You have options, and if you haven’t explored those options, you are missing out on a safe, effective, and natural method of meeting your healthcare goals.
This safe, effective, and natural method is Chinese Medicine.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, ColoradoChinese Medicine and acupuncture have been around for thousands of years. The skeptics out there question acupuncture’s effectiveness, even though there are more and more scientific studies confirming the effectiveness of acupuncture when it comes to many different health concerns, especially when it comes to pain management.

If you are still skeptical, ask yourself this simple question: what do you do with a tool that doesn’t work? We throw it away or replace it for one that does. I think all of us would not continue to use tools that don’t work.

Acupuncture is a tool that helps us to heal. It is a very effective tool that works. We would have thrown it out long ago – not kept it around for 1000’s of years – if it didn’t. This acupuncture tool is another option you have to reach your healthcare goals.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are indeed great for pain management (acute, chronic, arthritic, nerve pain, etc). But Chinese Medicine can also help with many other health concerns such as insomnia, stress, digestive issues, emotional health, thyroid imbalance, and women’s health concerns (including PMS, fertility, and menopausal symptoms) – just to name a few!

If you’re curious about whether acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help you, you can schedule your free 20-minute consultation with us online right now.

Explore your healthcare options – explore a new path of healing with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine today.

Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, Colorado

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy Summer!

“In every walk in nature
one receives far more than he seeks.”
– John Muir

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy Summer!, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoJune marks the beginning of summer for us: school is out and the official first day of summer is June 21st. But for some of us, we can get so caught up in our work that we miss out on the vast opportunities that living in Colorado (and nature in general!) offers.

While hiking near the flatirons this past weekend, Josh and I (and the Fluff) stopped to talk to a couple ladies on horseback. I made a comment that I thought that it must be really fun to be able to take a horse along such a beautiful trail, and she replied that she was lucky, but then aren’t we all for being able to live in such a place. I agreed with her whole-heartedly.

I am very thankful to live here and thankful for the wealth of outdoor activities that feed my soul and keep my body healthy. It’s a wildflower (blue, purple, magenta, orange, yellow, red, white!) and bird (we saw a few yellow birds with red heads – apparently we spotted Western Tanagers) paradise out there. Clear streams cut through valleys while music surrounded us – from the wind in the trees to the grasshoppers in the green meadows.

I even spotted a new (to me) herb on our hike called cinquefoil. It’s quite plentiful along the trail we were on. Yarrow, my current favorite local herb, was in bloom as well. All of these things give me great joy and help to keep me healthy.

I write all of this as a reminder to get out there and explore nature. There is always something new to discover. Nature has a wonderful way of grounding you, helping you to gain perspective on your life, and healing you – from the outside in and inside out.

Have an amazing summer – be happy, be healthy. Let nature help heal what ails you. She is there for us. All we have to do is show up!

 Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, Colorado

Josh Schneider, Me, and the Fluff

To Ice or Not to Ice: That is the Controversy

by Gretchen Belenchia

To Ice or Not to Ice: That is the Controversy, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoThe year was 1978. In his best-selling Sportsmedicine Book, Dr. Gabe Merkin coins the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for the treatment of athletic injuries.

The popularity of RICE becomes so widespread and accepted in the American community that not only is ice the go-to method for treating athletic injuries but also for chronic pain and any type of inflammation, including tendonitis.

The year was 1984. Tom Bisio, the author of A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth, was training Martial Arts in Taiwan with Master Hsu Hong-chi, a Master of Internal Martial Arts and Chinese Medicine. After training one afternoon, Master Hsu began to treat a fellow student’s sprained ankle. When Tom suggested using ice to reduce the swelling, Master Hsu looked at him and said “Ice is for dead people.”

Who is right? In Taiwan we have a Master Martial Artist and Healer, someone skilled in treating athletic injuries and someone who was trained in a long lineage of martial artists and healers. He doesn’t use ice at all. In America we have a Medical Doctor who developed a new method of treating athletic injuries called RICE. Americans go on to accept RICE so much that:

1. Tom suggests ice as a treatment to his Chinese teacher a few years later. 2. Ice becomes the gold standard of treatment for athletic injuries from coaches, physical therapists, chiropractors, doctors and laypeople in America.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, Colorado

Why do we so readily ice injuries and painful areas?

1. Because that’s what we’ve been told to do to reduce inflammation and pain. 
2. Because the injured area sometimes feels better temporarily. 
3. Because we don’t know what else to do.

The year is 2014. Dr. Gabe Merkin, the doctor who developed the RICE method, writes a blog on his website entitled “Why Ice Delays Recovery.”  He goes on to say in his article that ice and rest may actually delay healing, not help it. He sites several scientific studies that demonstrate the harmful effects of icing (links to these studies can be found on his website). These studies show that icing can:

1. Delay the release of certain hormones, such as Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). IGF-1 helps muscles and other injured areas to heal.
2. Constrict blood vessels near the site of the injury, thus shutting off blood flow to the injured tissue and possibly causing the tissue to die from decreased blood flow while also possibly causing permanent nerve damage.

And this is all from a Western point of view. It would take a whole other blog to talk about the harmful effects of icing from a Chinese medicine point of view (but I do give a short version from a Chinese medicine perspective below).

Because Josh Schneider, LAc and I follow the wisdom our teachers, we don’t use ice for injuries, ever. That’s why we ask if a person with an acute or chronic injury if he or she iced the injured area.

If the person did ice the area, we know that our job will be that much harder. We most likely will need to use some form of heat to drive out the cold that was introduced to the area, and we know that the injury will generally take longer to heal completely.

Let’s break down what ice is doing to an injury in really basic terminology – I’ll use the example of an ankle sprain:

What is the ice really doing in a basic way?
It’s slowing everything down, true – including swelling and inflammation (that we need), and as I’ve mentioned above, ice constricts the blood vessels, thereby slowing down blood supply to the injured area.

But if there’s bruising on an injured area, blood is already out of the vessels.

What happens to that blood when it’s iced?
Ice causes the blood to coagulate and perhaps even crystalize. This blood can settle into the tissue and causes long-term stiffness and pain. That’s why it’s not all that uncommon to see old bruising still hanging out under an ankle that was sprained a couple months ago. That old coagulated blood is still causing problems, and it’s not going anywhere without assistance.

Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoWhat does Chinese medicine think about ice?
Ice is cold. Cold is considered to be an ‘external pernicious influence’ that can cause disease and pain in the body. Injured areas of the body are more susceptible to external pernicious influences. Therefore, applying cold to an injured area allows the cold to sink deep into the injury.

So on top of trying to heal the injury, your body has to do something with the cold that was also introduced. Often, the body can’t expel the cold without help. The cold settles into the joint and then that joint that was injured years ago “acts up” when it’s cold outside.

Do you think icing is still a good idea?
If you do, you’re not alone. There are many in the medical community that still dogmatically stick by and defend the RICE method, despite evidence to the contrary.

Why are we so reluctant to trust our body’s ability to heal? Inflammation is a natural process after an injury – a natural process that will heal the injury. To delay inflammation is to delay healing.

What should you do instead? Check out Dr. Merkin’s article. He gives recommendations for what to do – even icing – but limited icing and not after the first 6 hours. Also, a useful guide for treating injuries is A Tooth from a Tiger’s Mouth.

If you’re in the Broomfield area and have an sports-related injury, a chronic injury that is slow to heal, or recurring pain, make an appointment for a free consultation to hear for yourself how we would treat the injury here at Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts.

To Ice or Not to Ice: That is the Controversy, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, Colorado

We have several tools at our disposal to treat your injury that other practitioners may not have: from herbal soaks for tight tendons, liniments and poltices for topical treatment, herbs to take internally to reduce pain and help you heal faster, and of course, acupuncture.

All of these tools are a different approach to treating injuries and are very effective at reducing swelling and pain while helping you get back to the activities and way of life that you enjoy.

Spring and summer are full of fun activities. Don’t let a sprain or chronic injury keep you from participating in the activities you love to do – call for a free consultation or set up an appointment online today.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, Colorado


A Tooth from the Tiger's Mouth by Tom Bisio

Dr. Mirkin's article: 

Additional articles, videos and resources:




Spring is a Time of Change – Are You Ready?

by Gretchen Belenchia

Spring is a Time of Change – Are You Ready?, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoAh, springtime in Colorado. There’s plenty of wind, and yesterday’s sunny and warm disposition can shift quickly to today’s sputtering snow.

There are many changes in our environment as the seasons shift, and nature is a wonderful teacher in that she provides lessons that remind us to be ever flexible and ready for change. If we are too rigid or not able to adapt quickly enough, our physical, emotional, and mental health can suffer.

In Chinese Medicine, spring corresponds to the Wood element. The Wood element has an energy that calls for change, growth, new life, and transformation. All of these words have movement to them.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, ColoradoTo see this in your own life, all you need to do is look outside. Animals are more active, bare tree limbs have tiny buds on them, the weather shifts from day-to-day, and a brown landscape is transformed to one of vibrant green.

Spring provides a much-needed breath of warm air as we emerge from the stillness and cold of winter, but spring and the Wood element can bring with it a new set of health concerns.

The low back pain, sciatica and deep bone aches that we may have experienced during winter may give way to liver and gallbladder issues, tendon pain, dizziness, irritability, anger, migraines, and allergies.

These are some of the main health concerns that you or your friends may experience during this season because these issues are all related in some way to the Wood element in Chinese Medicine.

Because we are a part of nature, not apart from it, we are subject to the shifting energy of nature – and the energy of nature is shifting right now to that of the Wood element.

Chinese medicine looks to nature as a teacher and learns to predict and thus prevent some of the common health concerns that may emerge during this season. Because of its view of nature, Chinese medicine is so needed and relevant in today’s society. There is much wisdom from this ancient medicine that is applicable in our lives today.

Using the lessons of nature as a framework for health, Chinese medicine provides new (to us) thinking and treatments for modern diseases that often stem from us not knowing how to live with the seasons anymore.

How can you prevent these seasonal health issues?

Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoOne great way to is to go to see your acupuncturist.

Many people who feel great keep seasonal acupuncture appointments. They use these appointments as seasonal wellness tune-ups because they know that the shift in the seasons will be much easier on their bodies if they do.

If you are new to Chinese medicine and acupuncture, there are many resources out there for you. Start exploring the wealth of common sense information this wonderful medicine can provide!

At Cloud Gate, we offer complementary consultations. If you are curious about Chinese medicine, acupuncture, seasonal energy changes and how they may be affecting you, you can come in and talk with us about it.

Another way to prevent seasonal health issues is to keep a healthy and happy Liver and Gallbladder. Spring is a great time to do a liver cleanse. There are many out there, so it’s always good to get the recommendation of a nutritionist or dietician before beginning a cleanse.

Spring is a Time of Change – Are You Ready?, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoTo cope mentally and emotionally with the changes that spring and life in general may bring, it’s always a really good idea to incorporate different exercises and techniques that will cultivate balance and groundedness in your life.

Yoga, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, and breathing exercises are just a few of the ways that can help you stay rooted and grounded through the shifts that happen in all of our lives.

Spring officially begins this Thursday, March 20.

Change, new growth, and transformation are already occurring in nature – how are you managing the changes? Are you ready? If not, give us a call. We are a resource for you and are here to help.

Cheers to a happy and healthy spring! Be well out there.

Cloud Gate offers Acupuncture in Broomfield, Colorado


One Simple Way to Reduce Pain: Stay Covered

by Gretchen Belenchia

One Simple Way to Reduce Pain: Stay Covered, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoHere in Colorado, we’ve had quite the fluctuations in temperature this winter: temperatures have dipped into the negative teens and soared into the 60’s, with plenty of wind in between those transitions.

These shifts in temperature can take a toll on our bodies and increase the amount of discomfort or pain that our bodies go through as they try to adjust to these fluctuations.

Pain or discomfort due to temperature changes and wind can manifest as an increase in the number of headaches, especially if they begin at the back of the neck or head, pain in the low back or neck, or pain the knees and other joints. Pain in these regions is especially noticeable if you have an old injury to the area or if you have some form of arthritis in certain areas.

Cold is one condition that is tough on the body, but when a nice brisk wind chill is added to cold, you’ve got an environment that can really adversely impact the health and comfort of the body. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are covered up when you go outside – especially when it’s windy.

But what about when it’s a really nice warm winter day – upper 50’s to 60’s – and windy? It’s still important to cover up! The energy of winter is a lower energy. That’s why, in general, people tend to have less energy and get sicker during the fall and winter months. That’s why plants and animals are less active or dormant. And that’s why it is still important to protect yourself from what we, in Chinese Medicine, call an ‘Invasion of Wind.’

In Chinese Medicine, we say that ‘Wind is the harbinger of 100 diseases.’ Wind is the harbinger of 100 diseases because the other external conditions, such as cold, heat, and dampness, like to piggyback on wind to invade your body. Wind allows these other external conditions to penetrate into the layers of your skin more easily and to create more pain or discomfort.

Think about being out in the wind and cold: muscles tighten to protect you and try to keep you warm, and these tight muscles and tendons can lead to headaches and joint pain.

So what areas should you protect? In addition to protecting the areas that are typically painful or uncomfortable for you, there are 3 major areas to keep covered:

1. Your Neck
2. Your Lower Back
3. Your Feet

Your Neck

Always keep your neck covered in windy or cold conditions, especially if you are prone to developing headaches or have had a neck injury in the past. This is one of the first tips I received in my Chinese Medicine education, and it has served me well over the years. Even in the summer, I have a lighter cotton scarf for wearing in air conditioning because I am now very aware of my neck tensing up when cold air is blowing on it.

Your Lower Back

One of the ways to protect your back is to keep your lower back and kidney area nice and warm. Make sure there’s not a place between your shirt and pants where wind and cold can penetrate.

This is especially important for all of you outdoor enthusiasts – it might feel really good at the time to expose sweaty skin to cold air, but it’s not the best idea for your long-term health, especially if you’ve had a back injury or are prone to your back ‘going out.’ Allow your body to cool down slowly and change out of sweaty clothing as soon as you can before you get chilled.

Your Feet

Protecting your feet from the cold – including cold floors in your house – is another major way to prevent back pain and keep your vital energy strong. In Chinese Medicine, there is a very important point on the bottom of your foot. It is the first point on the Kidney channel, called Yong Quan. The Kidney channel travels to many areas in your body, but it has a major relationship to your Kidneys and Low Back. Walking on cold floors or wearing inappropriate footwear for the season can lead to low back soreness and pain.


Cold causes fluid contraction – heat causes fluid movement (picture frozen versus boiling water). Protecting your body from the cold and wind by keeping it warm can help to decrease pain in the body, especially in our joints or places that are injured. Keeping those areas warm can help to keep fluids moving freely through those areas and prevent stiffness in your body.

Don’t let the changes in temperature cause pain and discomfort in your body. Prevent and reduce pain by covering your neck, low back, and feet. Try it for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference. What do you have to lose – besides stiffness, pain, and discomfort?

Protect your body and your health by staying covered today – especially since it’s forecast to snow for the next few days! Stay warm out there!