Happy Year of the Dog!

We are excited to be welcoming the Chinese Lunar Year of the Dog this February.   It couldn’t have come at a better time as the Dog stands for honesty, compassion, reliability and justice.  In the spirit of the Dog this year, may we pledge to put increased attention on the less fortunate (the underdog).   

The down side of Dog energy is that it can be anxious, curious and noisy which are all natural responses to the world at certain times.  It is in a Dog’s nature to react loudly when it feels threatened or excited.   

This Lunar New Year should be playful and fun while at other times bring out our fierce loyalty toward our family, friends and causes we care so much about.  Dogs are selfless and brave and like to work in teams.  You are lucky to be born in the year of the dog or to have a companion who was.   

1910 * 1922 * 1934 * 1946 * 1958 * 1970 * 1994 * 2006

Habits, Addictions and Acupuncture

Did you know that Acupuncture is an established complementary treatment in addiction recovery programs?  Used in settings where addictions to food, drugs, alcohol and other substances like opioids have disrupted people’s lives, acupuncture is one of the components of care in many inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs across the country.  We continue this care at Triangle Acupuncture for people who have left these programs and seek to continue the acupuncture for ongoing recovery at home. 

Auricular or ear acupuncture is one of the main ways acupuncture is administered for addictions, it is called the NADA protocol.  This involves just a shallow insertion of tiny needles at 4 or 5 points on the outer ear.   Ear acupuncture is deeply relaxing and helps with addiction in 6 major ways:

  • Help reduce cravings
  • Ease withdrawal symptoms
  • Ease physical pain
  • Help the person regulate emotions
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Help regulate sleep

Acupuncture is thought to regulate the nervous system and release of dopamine that is tied to addiction and subsequent withdrawal.  This results in a more peaceful feeling, limiting the impulses or desire to choose the food, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. 

January is the time when many of us decide to turn over a new leaf.  If you are suffering with an addiction, please consult your doctor and decide on the appropriate path of care.   Acupuncture is a great adjunct for your ongoing treatment.   If you feel like you have a “bad habit” that you want to work on, then you may find it helpful to come to a talk January 9th at the Chapel Hill office from 7-8pm.   Patrick and Danny will be discussing “Habits: How to Break a Habit & How to Start a New Habit.”  They will be going through the science of Habit breaking and discuss how the NADA protocol works as well as going through some real-life examples of habits from folks in the audience.   Come join and bring a friend!  It should be a fun and informative evening and help you learn how acupuncture can treat addictive behaviors.  There will be a Part 2 for the class to bring everyone back together and discuss how the process went February 15th from 7-8pm in the Chapel Hill office. 

We are always here to help and provide ongoing support with acupuncture in addiction recovery.  All of our practitioners are trained in the NADA protocol.  We also have Friday afternoons set aside in Chapel Hill for "Acupuncture Happy Hour" which is a walk-in community clinic.  Treatments are sliding scale $35-45 and everyone is treated who shows up.  It is a great way to get a peaceful boost before the weekend or augment your regular acupuncture schedule so you can afford to come more than once/week.  

Navigating the Holidays when you’re trying to conceive

The holiday season can be a great time of connection with loved ones. There are many opportunities to slow down and be grateful for all that is present in our lives.

However, the holidays can also set the stage for A LOT of potentially awkward situations especially when you have spent the year doing everything humanly possible to support your fertility.  Co-workers, family, and even friends may not be aware of how to be sensitive in casual conversation to your experience which can lead to strained relationships. Also, intense feelings can arise when you get invited to a variety of seasonal events that you have always wanted to attend with your own children. Whether its figuring out what to say when a member of your extended family asks why you don’t have kids yet or its figuring out how to keep your sanity when yet another friend/relative/co-worker announces their pregnancy unexpectedly, the holidays can feel like quite a gauntlet.

Patients sometimes ask for ideas on how to handle these type of risky conversations or events. The biggest suggestion we give to patients is to check out the FREE app FertiCalm.  This extraordinary resource can be downloaded to your phone and is full of so many quick useful ideas! Reviewing the FertiCalm app prior to attending holiday gatherings can help you feel a little more prepared if any sticky situations arise.

Below is just a small sample of FertiCalm suggestions. They have even more great ideas for the holidays as well as ideas for situations throughout the year:

Example Situation:

Traveling to a holiday family event where there is lots of small kids present.

Different Ways To Cope:

Behavioral Techniques: Protect your space- stay in a hotel rather than with family where holidays tend to be structured around kids’ activities. You will have the option to go to your hotel to take breaks if you happen to feel uncomfortable.

Finding The Humor:  When someone at the event asks when you are going to have kids, you could say things like:

 “We are waiting to see how the dog turns out.”


 “We are working on it…every night! And in every room of the house.”

Cognitive Techniques: At the event, consider changing a negative thought into a balance thought.

  • Negative Thought: “The sight of all of these children with their families is making me sad.”
  • Balanced Thought: “Its ok and normal to feel sad when I see other children.”

Relaxation Techniques: Visit the app to take advantage of all the tools in this section. There is a variety of quick audio files that walk you through various breathing techniques and very simple guided meditations. The files vary in length from 1 minute to 10 minutes and can be used during the stressful times of the holidays and throughout the year.

Feel free to discuss your great or not-so-great holiday experiences at your next acupuncture session. We would love to be able to provide support and hear if you found the FertiCalm app helpful.

What is Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dish?

We asked each member of Triangle Acupuncture Clinic’s staff “What is your favorite food at Thanksgiving?”  And this is what they said…

Danny:  For the last few years my wife and I have been enthralled with the idea of eating un-traditional foods for the holidays, so any variation of fresh turkey, tofurkey, or Turducken is out this Thanksgiving! That's right. We like our turkey on Thanksgiving served Thai style as a nice spicy, citrus larb.

Kolleen: I have so many fond memories associated with Thanksgiving and the foods we eat around this time of year!  My family has transitioned to a plant based vegan diet and I still want those flavors of the holiday so one of my favorite recipes is vegan mashed potatoes and gravy!  It’s just as comforting and twice as healthy!  *For recipe scroll to the bottom

Chris: Deep Fried Turkey and Potatoes Au Gratin

Bethany: My favorite Thanksgiving dish is curried sweet potato - the combination of spicy and sweet is delicious.  Also, in Traditional Chinese medical theory, orange colored foods are extremely nourishing for the "Spleen", the body's digestive function, whereas the pungent and bitter curry boosts the "Heart" (emotional spirit) and "Lung" (immune system).

Kim: While I've been a fan of cranberry sauce since childhood, I was never very fond of the canned 'cranberry mush' or the overly sweet sauce made with fresh cranberries, a ton of sugar and not much else. My favorite is Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce because it is full of beautiful fall fruits! The tartness of the pomegranate and the crunch of the apples play well with the sweetness of the oranges, and tangy orange zest rounds it all out. This is amazing with poultry, and the leftovers can also be used for making tarts, or just eaten as is on your morning toast.  *For recipe scroll to bottom

Kalpana:  I love the sage, and poultry spices in the stuffing and of course love mashed potatoes. 

Patrick: Simply Turkey

Katherine:  My year wouldn’t be complete without stuffing.  I love this simple flavor combination and resist making stuffing on a weekly basis just because Thanksgiving is my favorite meal all year!  Even better is the leftover casserole that starts with a base of stuffing, layer of mashed potatoes, turkey on top covered with gravy.

Rick: Most of my marriage we have lived in a different state as most of our family. We don't always get the opportunity to go back home for Thanksgiving and when that happens we often invite friends in similar situations to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. My kids have never been big fans of Turkey and some of our friends don't eat meat. So for the first few years of hosting we tried a few different options. We tried the different fake turkey options. We have made lasagna and that went over well but doesn't really go with the other holiday side dishes. We kind of did something different each year, but somewhere along the way we ended up making stuffed baked potatoes. You start with the largest Potatoes you can find. After you bake the potato you scoop out some of the potato from the skin and make that into mashed potatoes and then we add ingredients based on the guests. We can make a vegan option, a vegetarian option, and a meat option usually chicken. They are usually topped with an alfredo sauce or something similar.  What’s added to them still changes a little from year to year depending on guests and creativity.  The nice part of the meal is it’s not hard to alter the same dish to satisfy any diet requirements while everyone is still basically eating the same thing.  It goes well with the normal side dishes of the holiday and tastes great. It may not be traditional, but it has become a tradition for us.  

Nital: As you know my family does not celebrate Thanksgiving but one of my favorite dishes is mashed sweet potatoes.  Cinnamon and Nutmeg has a nice spicy taste. Maple syrup to make it sweet so my son will eat them wink Gee is better than butter and adds touch of Indian Culture . Perfect comfort food for my family ��  It is very easy to make and simple:

  • 2 Sweet Potatoes (boiled and mashed)
  • 1/2 cup of milk 
  • 2 tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 spoon of gee
  • little bit of maple syrup to make it sweet (depending on your taste) 
  • pinch of salt and paper


Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy


  • 1.5 lbs red or yellow potatoes diced
  • 4 cups water approx.
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk separated
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives chopped (optional)


  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 3.5-4.5 cups water separated
  • 2 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian Chicken Flavor
  • 1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • pepper to taste

Step 1 - Cut potatoes into equal size pieces. Add to a large pot and pour in water until potatoes are covered. Place on stove and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Step 2 - While potatoes are cooking, make the gravy. Combine corn starch and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and whisk until combined and corn starch is dissolved.

Step 3 - In a sauce pan combine bouillon, 3 cups water, poultry seasoning and white pepper. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking frequently. Once it begins to boil, add corn starch mixture and decrease heat to low. Whisk frequently until gravy begins to thicken.* Add pepper to taste. Leave on low heat until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Step 4 - When potatoes are tender (approx. 30 mins) remove pot from heat and drain. Add drained potatoes back to the pot. Add butter and 1/4 cup milk. Use a potato masher to break apart potatoes and incorporate the butter & milk. Add an additional 1/4 cup milk and continue to mash until potatoes are smooth (or until desired consistency is reached).

Step 5 - Add garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Step 6 - Transfer potatoes to a serving dish and top with chives. Serve with hot gravy.  Enjoy!


Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Using fresh pomegranates here is worth the work of getting at those little arils! A good trick for easy, mess-free aril removal is to cut the pomegranates into quarters, and peel them in a bowl of cool water, making sure to remove all the white pith, then strain.  You can adjust the sugar to your liking--as listed it's tart-sweet. 


  • 2 large tart apples (granny smith or pink lady work well)
  • 2 pomegranates, peeled and arils separated
  • 1 (16 fl oz) bottle pomegranate juice (make sure you get 100% pomegranate juice with no additives)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 large oranges
  • 2 (12 ounce) bags fresh cranberries, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped


Step 1 - Peel and core apples, and put peelings and cores in a small saucepan with pomegranate arils, 1/2 cup juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

Step 2 - Chop the peeled apples, and place in a large saucepan. Remove zest from half of one orange, chop very fine, and add to apples. Peel oranges, chop coarsely, and add to pan along with cranberries and remaining juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Step 3 - Remove small pan from heat, and strain juice into larger pan, using a sieve or fine strainer to remove seeds and peels.  Add the remaining pulp that’s left to the larger pan. Stir in nuts, if desired. Cook about 10 minutes longer. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Eating for Infertility

What should I eat to enhance my fertility?  This is the million dollar question that every fertility patient we work with is wondering.  The diet advice when you’re trying to conceive is confusing and we are here to help!  The truth is, depending on what infertility diagnosis you’ve been given, you may need to eat certain things to help your body out. 

For everyone a whole foods diet is a good baseline place to start.  This means avoiding processed foods and white carbs while incorporating as many fresh vegetables, fruits, plant-based proteins and fats.  Common fertility issues like cysts, endometriosis, age and even PMS symptoms can point the way to which eating plan is right for you.  If you’ve never been to an acupuncturist, you should know that we ask you questions about everything from allergies and sinus congestion to headaches, digestion and anxiety.   All of this information will go into deciding which foods to avoid and which to include more of going forward in your fertility journey. 

Here is a short list of healthy snack ideas that we commonly recommend that are good for anyone looking to enhance their fertility:

  • Apple or Banana with almond butter
  • Trail Mix that includes sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh berries with a square of dark chocolate
  • Easy Sweet Potato baked in microwave
  • Oatmeal sprinkled with chia seeds, walnuts and berries
  • Hummus with cut up veggies

Food is your friend!  Finding the right diet to enhance your body’s natural fertility is just one part of our Fertility Wellness Program.  At Triangle Acupuncture Clinic we have many tools to help you stay calm, strong, and hopeful as you grow your family.

Welcoming Fall

These last couple of weeks have really started to feel like Fall here in central NC!  It won’t be long before we turn inward with the season as days get darker earlier and warm soups and stews are on the menu again.  We wish for you all to take a breath and welcome this slowing down after a busy summer. 

To keep you and your family healthy this cold season we have a few products and strategies for you to consider:

  • Get more sleep!  When talking to patients all day we see one very common theme: everyone is tired and nobody goes to bed earlier enough.  One of the most nurturing things you can do for yourself is to get more sleep.  It makes a huge difference across the board in your mood, your immunity and health in general.
  • Come purchase a couple of go-to herbal formulas that we keep stocked this time of year.   One, Gan Mao Ling, is great for that very early sign that you may be getting a cold, or even if you’ve just been exposed to others sick around you.  Gan Mao Ling works great if taken early!  The other thing to keep in your medicine cabinet is Fritillaria & Pinellia Syrup.  This is a cough remedy that works on clearing up a cough that comes along with a common cold.  It is good for all ages – a miracle for toddlers and we use it in the older population as well to ward off a more serious bronchitis or pneumonia from setting in after a cold.  Fritillaria & Pinellia syrup acts like a natural decongestant and expectorant all in one and is a must-have for clearing up coughs all winter long.
  • A seasonal tune-up of acupuncture to boost your immune system is always recommended!  Also, don't forget that acupuncture is great for treating sinus issues and shortening the length of colds.    

Welcome Danny!

Welcome Danny to the TAC Family!

We are excited to welcome Danny Lopez as our newest acupuncturist in Chapel Hill!

Danny comes to us from a thriving practice in Bend, Oregon. He is skilled in treating pain and sports medicine, as well as general concerns. We are especially happy to have Danny as our first bilingual acupuncturist, and he is excited about treating our Spanish-speaking patients!

He will also be heading up our new Community Clinic, which begins September 15 from 1-4pm!

Read on for a short interview to learn more about Danny:

What are your roots? What brings you to NC?   I was born and raised on the West coast in sunny San Diego, CA, but as beautiful of a hometown as SD was, I knew in my later years that I wanted to venture out. After first making my way up north to the majestic and cool mountains of central Oregon, my wife and I ultimately decided to move to warmer climates on the East coast where we could be close to not only some of the loveliest beaches in the country but also to those mountains we love so much.

Why did you you choose to pursue acupuncture?   The desire for helping people has always been one that has been innate in me and although my original academic path was not in the direction of Chinese medicine, or anything in the health field at all, I eventually found my love for the traditional medicine once I saw the effects it had on a dear friend who suffered, both physically and emotionally, for years from Bell’s palsy. Where other forms of treatment that she had initially sought out did little to help her with this condition, acupuncture treatment made great strides in improving her palsy by influencing her body’s physiology in such a way that it was able to begin treating itself. It was in realizing these effects, produced by the gentle and holistic nature of this medicine, that acupuncture, and Chinese medicine in its totality, first appealed to me and my desire to impress healing to others. And so, I began my learning to do just that.

Top 5 favorite things?

My creator
My wife and family
Weight lifting
Indoor rock climbing
Food (especially Thai, Mexican, or Greek)

What do you do to stay healthy?   Confession time. I didn’t always put as much emphasis on the activities I did or the foods I ate as I do today. Frankly, the bulk of my transition to becoming health-conscious happened while I was in my Chinese medicine master’s program. During that time in the program, in becoming educated on the importance of physical activity and food choices, in combination with the fact that I was sedentary for up to nine hours a day, four days a week in classrooms, I found myself wanting to be active by exercising, or “playing” as I call it. In addition to my increased desire to be active, I also found that I became averted to certain foods that would, noticeably, either sink like a rock in my stomach as I sat in class, muddle my ability to think clearly, or both. It was once I began listening to my body, its needs, its like, its dislikes, that I became a lover of exercise and of eating foods that would nourish me, energize me, and overall make me feel better throughout my days.

What's the one thing you wish each of your patients knew?   Just as I had learned, academically and corporeally, of the importance of maintaining a healthy level of physical activity and a well-balanced, nutritious food plan, I desire for all my patients to also understand and learn of the influence that these two manageable components have on their well-being and longevity.

How would you describe your treatment philosophy and style?   My philosophy for treatments is heavily root-based. Symptoms are the mere expression of what is really going on internally and that is where the target for my treatments lie. In treating what is going on internally, the root, the expressions, or symptoms, being experienced will naturally subside and eventually disappear altogether. My style of treatment is alternates between orthopedic, looking at the body through a biomechanics lens, and traditional Chinese, using channel and yin yang theory.

Who have been some of your best teachers, in personal and professional life?   It is difficult to choose such mentors for both my professional and personal life since I truly believe that everyone that I have met thus far has offered, to some degree, lessons to learn from and apply to either my professional life, personal life, or both. In this regard, I am tremendously grateful to all of family, friends, peers, and professors that have steered me in the right path, whether intentionally or indirectly, providing me with encouragement, drive, knowledge, wisdom, and charisma to apply to my overall way of living.

Danny sees patients in our Chapel Hill location Wednesday through Saturday (Yes, we have Saturday hours again!). Please call us if you'd like to schedule an appointment with Danny. 919-933-4480

Acupuncture Political Action Update

Last year you may remember our efforts to educate our patients about the threats the profession of acupuncture was under regarding dry needling and an uncertain future for our licensing board.  We are happy to report that we have had a good year so far as the 2017 legislative session comes to an end. 

The lobbyist representing the NCAAOM has been hard at work and continues to monitor bills that affect the licensed acupuncturist’s scope of practice.  There have been several opportunities throughout the year to meet with committee chairs and bill sponsors to explain the importance of acupuncture within our health system and how it needs protected.  

Acupuncturists have also been meeting one on one with their local representatives and senators.  This solid personal connection between the acupuncturists and their legislators offers a prime venue to explain the issues affecting our profession in NC and garner their support.

Most recently on May 24th, NC acupuncturists volunteered to promote acupuncture awareness and educate the legislature on our medicine and it’s benefits at the annual Acupuncture Awareness Day at the NC legislature.  With chairs and tables set up in the hall, many acupuncture treatments were provided to legislators, staff members, aides and lobbyists.  It was a great success and provided an awesome introduction to those who work in the legislature.

We just wanted you all to know that progress was made this year and the network of friends and supporters of acupuncture within the legislature is growing.   Thank you for your continued support of the acupuncture profession in North Carolina!

The Breakfast Taco

The new hero of your summer is the breakfast taco!  With just a little prep on the weekend you can start your day with a delicious spin on the morning meal.  Too many of you skip breakfast – let’s spice it up and make it something to enjoy!

The gist of it is, you need to plan out a couple proteins, fillings and toppings on Sunday so your breakfast taco is ready in minutes each morning.   Here is what you need:

  • Tortillas:  taco size soft corn or whole grain flour tortillas
  • Proteins:  turkey bacon, regular bacon, crumbled sausage, eggs (eggs are best made day of and not prepared ahead of time on Sunday). 
  • Fillings:  Sauteed peppers and onions, sautéed spinach, kale or chard with garlic, black beans
  • Toppings:  salsa, guacamole

You can prepare everything on Sunday except the eggs, you’ll want to do those the morning of, and just store in the fridge.  Then assemble and reheat, creating new combos every day.    Play around with different types of salsa – green, fruity and spicey.  Making guacamole from scratch will bring a smile to your face all week as it jazzes up your breakfast taco and is a simple healthy snack.   Here is a super quick and easy recipe:

3-6 ripe Avocados

1 big clove garlic


2 limes

Peel the clove of garlic and chop on a cutting board.  Cover with ¼ teaspoon of salt and using the flat side of the knife blade, smash the garlic.  You want to form a garlic paste so push down with the knife and drag/scrape the garlic across the cutting board in short strokes.  After about 30 seconds you will see you’ve broken the garlic down until it’s a liquidy paste.  Put this in your bowl.  Open your avocados and dump the flesh in the bowl, add the juice of 2 limes.  Mash it all together and adjust salt to taste.  Store in fridge with a layer of plastic wrap pressed up against the top of the guacamole, this prevents it from turning brown. 

P.S.  A breakfast taco bar is also a great twist on the usual carb-heavy brunch and makes a fun way to entertain!

Acupuncture for Nausea & Morning Sickness

Pregnancy is such a blessing, but first trimester nausea is definitely not.   Acupuncture has long been used to successfully alleviate morning sickness, or all-day nausea accompanying pregnancy.  In fact, acupuncture treatment for nausea of any kind is one of the most well-studied conditions. 

Many of the patients we treat at Triangle Acupuncture Clinic have struggled with infertility and are cautiously excited when they receive the news they are finally pregnant.  Fast forward a couple weeks into the first trimester and many are feeling guilty for how miserable pregnancy is making them feel.  The thing is, nausea for an evening or couple of days is bearable.  Nausea that lasts for 6+ weeks is very hard.   Preparing or shopping for food is almost impossible and sometimes, even drinking water is difficult.   

We suggest our pregnant patients come in once/week from week 6-12 to temper any morning sickness or nausea issues.  Acupuncture for nausea is very gentle, and the treatments are usually very successful.  While the nausea may not go away completely, you can expect to have more good days than bad and to have more time during the day when you feel like eating. 

We recently treated a patient who was on her third pregnancy, and she had severe nausea with the first two that lasted until the third trimester.   Within two acupuncture treatments she was fully functioning, had much less nausea and could go to work and care for her two children.   Like this patient, we do see that acupuncture for nausea should have an effect within the first couple of treatments. 

Here are some other tips to remember if you’re struggling with morning sickness:

  • Avoid dehydration – becoming even slightly dehydrated makes nausea more intense.  Try having small sips frequently, eat soups, take warm teas or iced teas and experiment with what flavor tastes best.  Carbonated drinks are good if you have a lot of burping but usually make nausea worse otherwise. 
  • Eat to keep your blood sugar steady – you need to avoid getting an empty stomach so small snacks every 1 ½ to 2 hours is a must.  Avoid sugary foods and focus on breads, pasta and potatoes which are more slow-releasing carbs.  
  • Shop for groceries online and pick them up rather than spending time in the grocery store.  Frozen waffles or other healthy frozen entrees are a good trick for having a quick meal when you’re starving but unable to cook. 
  • Poke some holes in a lemon and wrap it in a cloth to carry around with you and smell it when you come across unpleasant smells.