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Compassion in an Age of Trauma

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

Compassion in an Age of Trauma, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

Compassion in an Age of Trauma

I want you to know you are not alone. Most of us are scared and tired and trying to figure out how we're going to make it financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I want you to know your stress and pain and fear is a normal and rational response to the times we are living in. And it's important to know, the reason we feel them is our brains know we may be in danger and they are trying to help us first, survive. The survival instinct within our bodies, which come from this earth, and the many centuries we have lived here, are so meticulously honed they are automatically triggered when our bodies/brains believe we are in possible danger. It's a sub and unconscious reaction. And it exists to protect us. It is exhibited in the SNS, sympathetic nervous system response. And, balancing out this response by activating the PNS, the parasympathetic nervous system, is the very first thing that happens in an acupuncture treatment. 

It is why your mind begins to calm, your muscles relax and your stomach begins to gently rumble. It is why you need to go the bathroom before and after a treatment! Your body and your brain know it is time to rest, rejuvenate and heal. Many of the stresses and tensions we carry in our minds, hearts, and bodies, if we've carried them for a long time, or our stresses and burdens have become especially acute, turn into diseases. Sometimes even diseases of despair. In this stressful age that we are living through, together, if we want to not only get through but transform and rejuvenate our lives, communities, country and planet we need to learn how to develop equanimity, which is the ability to stay centered, calm and rational in the midst of a storm. It is learning, cultivating and practicing the art of balance. And balance is what we're creating in an acupuncture treatment and treatment plan. In fact, balance is the foundational essence of Chinese Medicine not just within ourselves but with the natural world. Chinese Medicine teaches us how to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and the earth in a foundation of understanding that we are one with the universe, as much of the earth as of spirit, and here to learn how to live in harmony and healthy connection with both, at the same time, just as we are...

All of us are doing the best we can. We are all suffering in our own ways. And so are our bodies. One significant practice that helps build equanimity is practicing compassion for ourselves and our bodies, especially when we are in pain. The next time you feel pain whether it is physical or emotional, instead of judging it or quickly trying to get rid of it- acknowledge it. Be with it. Thank your body or your feeling for telling you it needs your attention and possibly your help. Then practice compassion for that body part or emotion. In time, with practice you may even learn what the pain is trying to tell/teach you. You can also practice this with others. When you are confronted with their pain, and you feel your SNS beginning to trigger, stop. Take a few deep breaths. And instead of reacting, listen. And if you are able, and it is a situation where you are safe, try to understand. This is how we begin to learn to cooperate with ourselves and each other, by cultivating compassion. It is what will help us not only build equanimity, but a foundation of cooperation that will help us create the healthier, compassionate and more balanced world most of us want to live in.

Wishing you love, compassion and healthy balance, 









Health and Healing in and Environment of Division

Connection, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

The deepest roots of TCM reach back into 5 Element Theory and Taosim. And boiled down to its essence it is the philosophy, backed up by science, that we humans are interconnected not only with each other, but with all the elements of the natural world. Energy/Yang is neither created nor destroyed. It simply transforms. And Matter/Yin is the material world manifested into the 10,000 things, of which we humans, are one. We are made of matter, and energy. Right now. We are literally, scientifically, intimately interconnected and dependent on each other for life. Every day.

This truth, that we are all interconnected, every bit of life, and need each other healthy and healing for our own health to be maintained, is the key to health and healing, not only in TCM, but in our daily lives. And as much as we need this knowledge to live healthy and healing lives, it is the feeling we need even more.

When do you feel connected? When does your world enlarge to encompass a feeling of connection with something other than yourself? What does it feel like?

It is this feeling that reminds us of who and what we really are... it is this feeling that helps heal the pain of division inside and outside ourselves. It is this feeling we need to nurture now, more than ever. 

One of the foundations to building this feeling for me, is gratitude. Almost every day, I begin my day thanking the Earth and all of my earth family for their healthy lives that make mine possible. I thank the life support systems for helping me live another day on this precious planet. I thank the ancestors, for making my life possible, as though I may not see them in a form I recognize, I know they linger in the air, water, soil, plants, genetics, art and literature I interact with every day.

And I feel it. I physically feel a connection to the intricate, pervasive elements of life that make mine possible. And it feels like love and compassion and an expansive and slightly-dense energy. Sometimes tingly, and like I want to just hug or am somehow hugging and feeling everything. And then I say a prayer that all I may do, think, say and feel be to the healthy, loving and healing benefit of all life today. 

This practice is just one that reminds me how to care for something other than myself, that cares for me, while caring for myself. Connection. 

How do you feel connected? And how do you nurture it?

Managing Chronic Disease and Discomfort

Managing Chronic Disease and Discomfort, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, JamulSo, you live with chronic disease... how do you manage it?

  • know that a chronic health complaint is one that has lasted for at least 3 months
  • learn as much can about your specific chronic health issue, so you know how best to treat it and learn how NOT to aggravate it
  • know that chronic health complaints generally don't go away 100%, forever
  • treat the pain and discomfort you are experiencing as your body's message for help, because it is
  • try different ways to relieve and/or manage and decrease your symptoms consistently (daily, weeky, monthly) and use the ones that work and that you like (create your health management toolkit)
  • as you begin exercise or any new treatment, listen to your body and heed its cues and limits
  • be your body's partner in health maintenance, with love, regularly

I have chronic low back pain. I have lived with it since my late 30s. After some time, trial, error and making the rounds of different types of treatment therapy- acupuncture, herbs, massage, exercise, chiropractic, pharmaceuticals, stretching, yoga- I figured out what worked for me and what I enjoyed. This was about the time I began acupuncture school. 

Acupuncture school taught me many things, chief among them how the body actually works. Armed with this new knowledge, I now knew how to differentiate a chronic health complaint from an acute one, and that chronic health issues require regular consistent treatment. So, I began creating my toolkit. Today, and for some time, my LBP (Low Back  Pain) management toolkit consists of regular aerobic and calistenic exercise and a daily full-body stretching routine. This is what works for me. What works for you may be different. After all, I see many patients for chronic LBP, as one piece of their pain management toolkit is acupuncture and herbs. 

The point of this blog is... don't ignore your chronic health issue. Your body needs your help to address it. There is likely no magic treatment to make it go away 100%. So, make peace with it and explore what works for you. And when you've found what does, use it regularly. You can be your body's partner in healing and health maintenance. 

Why Don't We Value Affordable Health Care?

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

Why Don't We Value Affordable Health Care?, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, JamulA low cost Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic draws people to it because of its affordability factor at the same time that it repels people because of its affordability.


In our culture, a U.S. capitalist culture, we equate value with money. The more something costs, the more value we ascribe to it. And yet, at the same time, we want to pay less for things we want and need. Those of us with more disposable income are looking for a bargain. The rest of us are looking for what we can actually afford. Both groups are  searching for the most value, at the lowest price.

This plays out in my clinic in three ways.

1. People who walk through my door, on one level or another, believe I am a less skilled acupuncturist with minimal or no schooling offering affordable services because the low cost is all my skills, training and services are worth.  (They mistakenly believe the value of my skills, education, and training are directly equal to the price I charge.)

2. People are willing to take a chance on me because of a personal referral, and/or price, hoping my skills are valuable. (They are looking for a bargain in the hope of getting the most value for the least amount of money.)

3. People come in who can't even afford my rates of $20-$40 a treatment and don't finish treatment protocols due to financial hardship. (Income inequality, unaffordable insurance plans and serious declines in disposable income create more barriers to accessing health care.)

Here is the truth about my health care services. 

Education- I have a B.A. and I graduated with an M.S.T.O.M degree that took over 200 semester hours to complete, with almost 50 hrs in biomedicine ( including terminology, anatomy, physiology, physpathology pharmacology, nutrition and diagnostics) and 33 in clinical internship. I had to pass a State Board exam to be licensed to practice and I am required by law to take CEUs yearly to keep my license current. I am also certified as  a Massage Therapist and Holistic Health Practitioner as part of my training as an acupuncturist. 

Skills- I first began practicing in 2006, opened my first CA practice in 2007, where I did thousands of treatments, practiced energy healing, herbal medicine and holistic health counseling while I went through my own illness, and opened my 2nd clinic in 2016. I have lots of experience and expertise helping people heal from a myriad of health complaints with acupuncture and TCM.

Values- From the time I was first licensed, I chose to offer affordable health care services because I know acupuncture and TCM are an effective, affordable and sustainable form of health care and I believe health care is a RIGHT, not a privilege. I know from experience that the value of a service or a practitioner's skill is not equal to the amount they charge for their services. And if we want healthier lives, and a healthier world, we need to be the change and model the health we want to manifest.

In other words, I am very well-trained, highly skilled and deeply committed to providing affordable health care. I could charge going rate ($65-$200/hr). I CHOOSE access, to as many people as possible.

Perhaps it's time for Americans, and especially traditional American business and politics,  to acknowledge that every American has a right to affordable, quality health care in all its forms. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge health care has always, only, been available to those who could afford it in this country. And capitalist views and values create a false narrative about health care- that it is only valuable if it is expensive, exclusively for those who can afford it and generates tremendous wealth for a privileged few.

If you share my values I hope you will make an appointment. Let's support each other in creating a healthy, sustainable community.

Foundations of Acupuncture Treatment- the difference between acute and chronic treatment plans

Foundations of Acupuncture Treatment- the difference between acute and chronic treatment plans, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, JamulMost Americans aren't familiar with acupuncture and acupuncture treatment. And those that are, still don't understand some of the basic fundamentals of how and why an acupuncturist determines their treatment plan. The first question you and your acupuncturist need to answer before treatment- is your complaint acute or chronic?

The answer to this question determines the length, frequency and potential outcome of your treatment plan.

An acute complaint is something new, that has no possibility of being related to anything in your health history- physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. For example, a new injury, accident, a brand new health complaint... If your complaint is acute, your acupuncturist will see you anywhere from every day for a week or 2 weeks, to 2-3 times a week for 2-4 weeks until your complaint is completely resolved.

A chronic complaint is something that's lasted for at least 3 months and perhaps lifelong. These are complaints from any of the 4 Areas of Health- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. If your complaint is chronic, your acupuncturist will typically want to see you 2 times a week for 6-8 weeks initially, and then will back off slowly into a maintenance treatment plan that will be from 1/wk to 1/month.

It is very important for you, as a patient, to understand the difference between an acute and chronic problem. So you know how to get the best out of your treatment and so you also know what to expect from acupuncture.

Acute problems can be quickly managed. Chronic problems need regular and consistent management, often lifelong.

Acupuncture isn't magic... It is a method of using your body's own natural resources to heal itself and maintain health- like eating well, exercising and stretching regularly. And when acupuncture is used wisely, it can be a healing tool you can utilize regularly for the rest of you life.

Have questions? Please contact me or make an appointment.

Fall and your Immune System

Fall and your Immune System, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

We are moving from Summer into Fall. And it's a time when we enter both the driest season of the year and one of the most challenging for our immune systems. For those of us with chronic issues like Asthma, Allergies, recurring Upper Respiratory Infections, Bronchitis, Pneumonia, and consistently recurring colds and flus... it is important to strengthen our immune systems and care for our Lungs this time of year. TCM herbal formulas, Qi Gong, TCM Dietary Therapy and Acupuncture are all options you can use to strengthen your body and prepare it to take on the challenges we face in the Fall. Here are some tips for you...

  • Immune +  is a simple and powerful formula specifically designed to strengthen your immune system. Your TCM practitioner can order it for you.
  • Qi Gong has specific postures that can strengthen your own body's qi/energy. Postures like Empty Force, that strengthen all 3 energy centers, are excellent at building your immune system and strengthening your lungs.
  • Food Therapy kiwis will build your lung strength, pears will moisten the lungs when you are too dry, certain mushrooms will strengthen your immune system and drain damp when you are too phlegmy. Learning how to listen to your body so you are able to determine when and how to eat based on your digestive system's strength and ability to digest food is an invaluable skill your TCM practitioner can teach you. When you learn this, you are becoming your own healer.
  • Acupuncture can do it all. It strengthens your immune system, your lungs, your digestive system and addresses all your symptoms. It will help you heal and prepare your body for the yearly season changes and their effects on your mind, body and spirit.

As your Acupuncturist and TCM practitioner, I have been trained in all the skills above and can help you address the issues that your body faces as fall comes around. If you find you need me, I hope to hear from you.


When Pain Flares

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

When Pain Flares, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

Whether you are experiencing a brand new ache or pain or suffering from a flare that's part of a chronic pain issue, there are some steps you can take on your own to manage your pain symptoms.

1. Rate the pain. On a scale from 1-10, with one being "barely noticed" and 10 being "knock me out and give me surgery," rate the worst your pain gets. If the number is 5 or above, take 500 mg of an over the counter NSAID in doses through the day as needed for pain, for 3 days. This helps to break the pain cycle.

2. If your pain is below a 5, at its worst, stretch. Be sure to stretch when your muscles are warm, that means after 5 min. of exercise or after a warm shower/bath/jacuzzi.

3. If your pain is a 5 or above, at its worst, DO NOT STRETCH. There is a good chance you can aggravate the tissues involved.

4. Use pain patches and linaments. Salonpas pain patches are affordable and effective. They come in small boxes of 40 or in large singles. Use as directed to help manage your pain, especially when you know you will be doing things that aggravate the area. Use cooling linaments for hot, inflamed areas with pain and warm linaments for areas that show no signs of inflammation.

5. Gauge your progress. If your flare does not begin to improve after a week, see a professional, like me. Acupuncture has a lot to offer in reducing and managing pain. And if you get acupuncture regularly, it's best to see me as soon as you flare. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you'll be pain-free.