Family health General

Fatigue and FGIDs

Almost 2/3 of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), who initiate biologic therapy (infliximab, adalimumab, vedolizumab, or ustekinumab) continue to experience persistent fatigue up to 1 year later. 

Ongoing inflammation was thought to be the main cause of IBD related fatigue, however research now suggests that gut dysbiosis and a less diverse microbiome may be the prevailing factor. 

According to the lead study author, Nynke Z. Borren, MD, “We think that gut dysbiosis might be involved in inducing fatigue,” Dr. Borren said. “In the beginning, we thought that it might be due to ongoing inflammation, but our research has shown that we find a less diverse gut microbiome in those patients with fatigue compared to patients without fatigue while they were in remission. There is something in the gut that influences the central nervous system. We are still exploring this.”

Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in the regulation of gut dysbiosis, intestinal barrier function, visceral hypersensitivity, gut motor dysfunction, depression/anxiety, and pain, and low vagal tone, all of which are factors that can significantly impact quality of life in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Persistent fatigue plagues many IBD patients

“Fatigue is one of the most heard complaints in the clinic,” lead study author Nynke Z. Borren, MD, said in an interview at the annual Digestive Disease Week. ® “In the past few years there has been more interest because we know there is a communication system between the gut and the brain.

Acupuncture in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019 Jun 18;25(7):1129-1139. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy371.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Emotional health-Finding peace Family health General

How Much Sleep Is the Right Amount of Sleep?

How many hours of sleep did you get last night? 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged between 26-64 years, should receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep but not less than 6 hours or more than 10 hours. 

In clinic, l will often discuss sleep quantity and quality. Although l consider sleep to be a non negotiable and one of the pillars of health, I do appreciate the fact that sometimes personal circumstances will impact an individuals ability to sleep soundly. 

Some of us are going through a stressful time and are struggling to settle at night. Some of us have health issues that prevent us from getting the rest that we need. Some of us have little ones and are simply doing the best that we can.

I encourage those not having to navigate through extenuating circumstances to start small. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier for a week or so and see how that goes.

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times

National Sleep Foundation Email: WASHINGTON, DC, ( February 2, 2015)–The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The report recommends wider appropriate sleep ranges for most age groups. The results are published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation .

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Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Family health General

What Does Moxibustion Feel Like?

Because I work at a holistic health center, people ask me regularly what the different treatment modalities feel like. So, like last week’s post about acupuncture, I’m going to give you an idea of what moxibustion feels like.

If you’ve ever walked into an acupuncture office or holistic wellness center and smelled smoke and wondered what it is, chances are pretty good that it was burning moxa, which is called moxibustion.

Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried Moxa (mugwort) is burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences. When burned, it smells a little bit like marijuana, though it’s not related. It comes in several different forms, from a sort of compressed charcoal looking stick, to little capsules that rest on the skin. You can even put it into what looks like a little birdhouse to warm larger areas (see pictures below).

Note: normally, you wouldn’t be wearing all of this clothing and you’d be draped with towels, but we were taking pics just for this post, so…

So what does it feel like? Warm. Deliciously so. The warmth starts locally but kind of spreads out around the area. It doesn’t hurt, and I actually like the smell. I have a little bit of a phobia about fire, but the way the moxa is used isn’t scary. When used on my forehead in particular, it’s soothing and could easily put me to sleep. Honestly, even if it weren’t effective in helping treat various conditions, I’d still like it done just because it feels good.

So my opinion on moxibustion? Um, yes please!

Wishing you wellness,


Family health General

What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

As someone who works for an acupuncturist (Hi everyone, I’m Emily, the office manager!), I am frequently asked what it feels like and what will happen during treatment? People’s biggest concern is that it will hurt. I totally understand that concern, so let me break down what my appointments have been like. Please keep in mind that everyone experiences physical sensation differently, so what is true for me may not be true for you, but it’ll help you get an idea of what one lay person has experienced in her treatments.

Let me preface this by saying I have chronic illnesses that cause me a fair amount of daily pain, and I’ve had all sorts of treatments done to me over the years, including Western medicine (which usually just means medication). So a little extra pain from a needle doesn’t bother me if it means I’ll feel better after it and have to rely on medication – with all of it’s side effects – less.

That being said, most of the time the needles don’t hurt. Every once in awhile, I’ll have one feel like it’s burning a little or feel a small prick at the moment it’s inserted. When that happens I let my acupuncturist know, and they adjust it and it goes away. It does NOT feel like going for a shot at the doctor’s office or like giving blood or getting a tattoo. That deep pain just isn’t present with acupuncture needles, in my experience.

Sometimes, the points the acupuncturist inserts the needles into will cause a sort of electrical feeling through the muscle. It might twitch a little bit, but it’s not painful – just sort of weird. Honestly, it cracks me up to watch a toe or finger or something twitch without me doing anything. And I’m always blown away by the fact that the acupuncturist might put a few needles in my feet to cure my headache, or in my knee for abdominal pain. It’s crazy, but really cool because it works.

Usually, the relief from whatever pain I’m feeling is pretty immediate. When it’s not, I let the acupuncturist know, and they make adjustments. Once they’ve put several needles in, they’ll let you lay there for a bit, and check in periodically to see if the sensations have shifted at all, and again, they’ll make adjustments as needed. I generally try to meditate, but 9 times out of 10, I end up napping, which feels pretty luxurious in the middle of the day. It’s the perfect way to let go for a bit and “just be” – something I struggle with most of the time.

Because I work for an acupuncturist, I don’t have to wait for an appointment to get treatment for acute symptoms like a migraine. A major benefit! I can sit at my desk with needles stuck in me and go about my work. Not as relaxing, but certainly efficient and it keeps me functional.

This is what is often hiding under my desk at work!

Again, everyone will feel things a little differently, but I don’t think of acupuncture as being painful. Admittedly, it can feel a little odd in some spots, but well worth it for the functionality I gain.

Wishing you wellness,


Family health General Sports Performance

Are You Magnesium Deficient?

Common symptoms of mild-to-moderate magnesium deficiency include anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, panic attacks, muscle cramps and twitches, chest tightness, hyperventilation, faintness, difficulty with mental concentration, memory loss, confusion, nuchal pain, headaches, intestinal complaints, tremor, palpitations, and certain types of cardiac arrhythmias.

Magnesium is a cofactor for more than 300 different enzymes. It is essential for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s main storage form of energy.  Magnesium inhibits platelet aggregation, promotes dilation of blood vessels, and has an antispasmodic effect on skeletal and smooth muscle.1

I mostly use magnesium for its ability to help muscles relax.  It does this by binding to the calcium binding sites in the muscle and replacing the contraction-signaling calcium with magnesium, leading to muscle relaxation.2

Magnesium supplementation can come from oral supplements or epsom salt baths.  Usually 100-750mg/day is used. At the upper range it’s best to divide dosage throughout the day to help avoid diarrhea which is the primary symptom of excess magnesium. The formula I most frequently recommend includes potassium and some other vitamins that aid in potassium absorption, which is especially helpful after a workout.

1. Nutritional Medicine by Alan Gaby M.D.


Wishing you wellness,

Michael Dunbar


Meet Michael Dunbar N.D., L.AC., LMT

We’re so pleased to introduce you to our newest team member:

Michael Dunbar is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist at Awakenings Health. In addition to private treatment sessions, Michael also does community acupuncture.

He was born and raised in Raleigh, NC before going to UNC-CH and graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health – Nutrition.  Michael then moved to Oregon to pursue a dual degree of a Naturopathic Doctorate and Masters of Acupuncture. During his time at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR, he also received his Oregon massage license specific to Shiatsu (acupressure) massage.

His path began with a desire to find treatments that did not just mask symptoms but instead help cure disease or avoid becoming sick all together.  This search is what led to the significant study and personal testing of a number of dietary regimen. He’s settled on a whole food based approach which can be customized to the needs of each individual.

At NUNM, Michael’s education led him to understand that certain lifestyle factors including nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management are the keys to health and by focusing on these basics many of the health issues people experience can be avoided or reversed.

Another basic principle Michael has incorporated into his healing practice is the healing power of mindfulness.  Michael has cultivated mindfulness through meditation, chi gong and Tai Chi, and uses this moment to moment awareness to inform his massage and acupuncture treatments.  This mindfulness is how he “gets out of the way” to create a healing space for his patients.

In his personal life, Michael enjoys Contra and Blues dancing, weight lifting, and travel.  He looks for a balance to maximize health and happiness in each day.

Family health General

What To Expect from Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

Last week we introduced you to facial rejuvenation acupuncture, and we received several inquiries about what to expect throughout the course of treatment. Here’s a little more information on how it works:

Patients will experience optimal results when treatments are completed as part of a series of weekly treatments for a period of 10-12 treatments. The information provided below is a general outline of what patients can expect with Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture treatments.

Week 1 & 2: Clinically, it is not uncommon to see hydrated, softened and glowing skin. Muscles of the face may appear more relaxed, and tension in the brow and jawline can decrease. There is often an increase in color and a brightened complexion.

Week 3 & 4: Often a lifting and tightening sensation can be reported in weakened and droopy muscles. The skin continues to feel softer and large pores may start to minimize.  Fine lines may begin to soften.

Week 5, 6 & 7: The stimulation of collagen will become most evident during weeks 5-7. The skin around the mouth and cheeks may feel tighter and the lines around the mouth begin to soften. The face may look and feel lifted, plumper and brighter.

Week 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12: The face will continue to feel firmer, hydrated and taut. The complexion may feel more even, large pores may be even smaller and any redness diminished. The folds off the nose (nasolabial) and corner of the mouth (marionette) will often decrease.

Maintenance: The results achieved after a series of 10-12 treatments will vary and depend on age and the body’s ability to respond to the stimulation that Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture treatment provides. It is generally accepted that the healthier you are, the more optimal the results will be. The results of Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, like general acupuncture are cumulative. This means that benefits will often continue to improve with each treatment. Maintenance sessions are recommended every 4-8 weeks and will depend on age and skin type. The results achieved, when maintained, can last for years.

Family health General Orthopedic rehabilitation Sports Performance

Risk Factors for Shoulder Stiffness

“Shoulder stiffness (SS) is a condition of restricted glenohumeral range of motion (ROM), which can arise spontaneously (primary or idiopathic SS, also known as “frozen shoulder”) or as consequence of a known cause, including surgical procedures on the shoulder (secondary and postoperative SS). Numerous risk factors have been described, both for primary and postoperative SS.

Recent research suggests that numerous clinical conditions have been related to the development of SS. These include, but are not limited to hormonal diseases and endocrine disorders (diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidsm, hypothyrodism), neurological conditions (Parkinson’s), dupuytren’s disease, psychological factors (depression, anxiety), hypercholesterolemia, inflammatory lipoproteinemias and certain medications (protease inhibitors, MMPs inhibitors).

When addressing shoulder pain, it is imperative that other factors are considered. Make sure your healthcare practitioner is taking everything into consideration when deciding how best to treat your shoulder stiffness and pain.

Risk Factors for Shoulder Stiffness: Current Concepts

Shoulder stiffness (SS) is a condition of restricted glenohumeral range of motion (ROM), which can arise spontaneously (primary or idiopathic SS, also known as “frozen shoulder”) or as consequence of a known cause, including surgical procedures on the shoulder (secondary and postoperative SS). Numerous risk factors have been described, both for primary and postoperative SS.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Family health General

Aspirin: Should You Take a Daily Dose?

It used to be that doctors recommended a daily dose of aspirin, but recent studies have shown that that may not actually be effective for otherwise healthy people. According to a new article that came out in the New England Journal of Medicine:

”Taking a low-dose aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke is no longer recommended for most older adults, according to new guidelines.

After doctors said for decades that a daily 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin could prevent cardiovascular problems, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) reversed that idea. 

A large clinical trial involving 19,114 participants in Australia and the USA found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people. It also showed a higher rate of suffering from a major hemorrhage.

Researchers said the results don’t apply to people prescribed low-dose aspirin after suffering a stroke, heart attack or other form of cardiovascular disease.

The ACC and AHA suggested that regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and eating a diet rich in vegetables and low in sugar and trans fats were among the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

You can read more here:

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Family health General

Does It Matter What Oil You Use For Cooking?

A new Australian study could change the type of oils you use for cooking.

Researchers found that extra virgin olive oil is the most stable and safest to use at high temperatures.

Cooking with coconut oil was almost on par, however failed to come close when comparing levels of naturally occurring antioxidants.

Seed oils (also called vegetable oils) such as canola oil, grapeseed and sunflower oil were the least stable when heated and produced the most harmful compounds.

Researcher’s also found that an oil’s smoke point is a very poor marker of its safety and stability as a cooking oil, contrary to popular belief.

Coconut Oil vs Olive Oil vs Canola Oil? – The Good Men Project

Editor’s note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person. A new Australian study could change the type of oils you use for cooking.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark