Healthy Digestion for the Holidays

It’s eating season!  Or, I mean, Holiday season!!  If you haven’t already overdosed on Halloween candy and then Thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers), you will get a chance to test your digestive capabilities even further with all the end of year holiday parties.  In addition to spending time with family and spreading love around our communities, eating large and heavy meals or extra sweets tends to be at the center of our get-togethers.  So how do we enjoy this season to the max without feeling miserable afterwards? 

If you know your digestion is on the weaker side, acupuncture can be a big help.  Specific acupuncture points can: 

  • Regulate acid secretion in the stomach
  • Reduce muscle contractions to alleviate pain and fullness after eating
  • Mediate intestinal motility which means that we can work wonders in helping both to regulate constipation or calm loose stools. 

The Chinese herbal pharmacy also has many tools to overcome these common discomforts– whether you’re overeating or just suffering from daily digestive woes.  We have incredibly effective formulas for things such as fullness and distention after eating, pain after eating, nausea, constipation and diarrhea.   If you don’t have time for an acupuncture session you can always come in for a quick herbal consult and find the herbal solution to fit your needs. 

So reach out to us for help this eating season to resolve any digestive issues you suffer from and enjoy all of your holiday parties!

Fall Fertility Special - Buy 3 & Get 1 Free!

During the Month of October, take advantage of our Fall Fertility Special:

Buy 3 visits and Get the 4th visit Free!  

This offer is good for New or Returning Fertility Patients and visits can be at either the Raleigh or Chapel Hill location.  

We have a team of acupuncturists who specialize in infertility care at Triangle Acupuncture Clinic.  These sessions focus on relaxation and can help optimize your blood flow and hormone levels.  We work with women and couples who are undergoing all types of infertility treatments as well as trying to conceive naturally.  We also make diet and lifestyle suggestions based on your fertility diagnosis.  The sooner you get started, the more time your tretament has to positively impact your fertility!  We're always here for you, please call if you have any questions.  


Restore Your Natural Glow with Cosmetic Acupuncture

Facial Acupuncture is a gentle technique that has its roots in the long history of Chinese Medicine.  It is a natural alternative to the more invasive aesthetic procedures being offered today.  Facial Acupuncture has the ability to improve collagen production, circulation of blood and lymph, hormonal acne, fine lines and wrinkles, and to leave patients looking their absolute best. 

Because many of us hold tension in the small muscles of the face, the treatments’ emphasis on releasing muscle tension tends to produce deep relaxation.  It is best to do a series of treatments to get the most long-term benefits but getting facial acupuncture the day before a big event can also be quite impactful.  While facial acupuncture can be great to help you look vibrant, it is also supportive of common conditions that affect the face such as TMJ, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Bells Palsy, etc.  The most frequently asked question is, “Does it hurt?”  We can assure you that the needles used in facial acupuncture are teeny tiny and most aren’t felt at all!  The treatments are very relaxing and will leave you with a glow!

Teachers get 25% off in June!

School is out and it is time to celebrate our hardworking teachers!  For the month of June teachers get 25% off all visits.  Everyone has a life-changing story about at least one amazing, dedicated teacher.  We want to express our gratitude and encourage some self-care for those who pour their hearts into educating.  Come take advantage and start your summer with a deep breath and some much needed stress relief.  

*All visits must be scheduled in June so call 919-933-4480 to get on our books.  

"If you are planning for a year then sow rice, If you are planning for a decade then plant trees, If you are planning for a lifetime then educate people."  Chinese Proverb           

Chronic Pain and Addiction

While we treat a wide variety of health concerns in our clinics, acupuncture is best known for its ability to successfully treat pain.  We have seen a large interest in the media recently with coverage of the opioid epidemic.  It is with great sadness and frustration that acupuncturists watch this terrible fate grip those in chronic pain.  While there are many forces at play in this issue, the one thing for sure is that doctors haven’t had access to enough treatment options for people in pain. 

Why is acupuncture an excellent match for the problem of pain and opioid over-use?  Acupuncture has an effect on the body’s pain response, lowering the pain level experienced by the person while it stimulates healing of the injury.  This means that we utilize certain points to reduce the brain’s perception of pain within the same treatment to heal the affected tissue.  Acupuncture accomplishes this by:

  • Raising endorphin levels and diminish the nervous system’s pain response
  • Decreasing inflammation and swelling
  • Relaxing muscles and stop spasms
  • Increasing circulation to the local area
  • Alleviating depression and anxiety that often accompany chronic pain

The multi-pronged approach to pain management that acupuncture offers has immediate benefits.  Acupuncture is beginning to be used in emergency rooms across Australia as a first line of treatment for injuries.  These doctors find that acupuncture achieves the same reduction of pain as prescribing pain medications for sports-type injuries in the ER.   These patients also get started right away on the healing process along with pain control when they use acupuncture. 

This spring the acupuncturists at Triangle Acupuncture are working hard to forge new partnerships and reduce the reliance on prescription pain medications in our community.  If you or someone you know is suffering with chronic pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We’re here to answer any questions you have and help you get back to feeling great!  Click here to watch a recent interview for WRAL news that features our very own Chris Helmstetter and how acupuncture treats opioid addiction. 

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.