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Managing Chronic Disease and Discomfort

Managing Chronic Disease and Discomfort, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $20-$40 per treatment 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 $20-$40 per treatment 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.

Decolonizing the Language and Practice of Health Part 1

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

Decolonizing the Language and Practice of Health Part 1, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $20-$40 per treatment in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

What is health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)

"Health...  is 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.'"

And colonialism, according to dictionary.com is the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people and the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such control or influence.

Colonialism, which is a sanitized term for conquest, has been the primary form of ruling nation creation and the systems that uphold them for centuries. Conquest has one real aim- to win, rule over and exploit resources and labor for the profit of the conqering class. Health care inside this frame is only truly concerned with the conquering classes physical, mental and social well-being. The health of the exploited classes, ecosystems and natural resources is limited to whether or not their health serves the conquerors desires or not. 

The United States was created by the conquest, murder and colonization of Native Americans, the conquest of Mexicans, the capture and enslavement of black people, the claim of ownership over land and people and the exploitation of natural resources. Regardless of the ideal of democracy the conqeror's envisioned, based on The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, these values applied only to the conqerors. 

And the conquerors, the ruling class of the United States of America, were wealthy, white, land-owning, primarily protestant, publicly straight men. All of our systems and models are designed to serve them, first and primarily.

The rest of us, the exploited, oppressed and enslaved- of different colors, ethnicities, financial statuses, genders, sexual orientations, immigration statuses, religious beliefs and traditions and levels of ownership and freedom have been fighting our way into having democracy actually legally and practically apply to us since the founding of this country. And it is our ecosystems, natural resources and all who are a part of this earth, who aren't human, that are the most exploited and voiceless of all. And health can not exist without them.

Health, as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being for ALL people, ecosystems and natural resources requires valuing ALL life with equity and respect. This primary value, of valuing all life with equity and respect, does not exist within the conqueror's framework, which is why health is something the United States has never truly experienced. Our health care model is designed to serve the conquering ruling class.

Stating and consciously accepting the fundamental truth, that we've never collectively known, supported and experienced health because the conqeror's mentality of our country and its systems are designed NOT to, is a necessary first step to decolonizing the language and practice of health. The next step is recognizing health also requires actual applied democracy, equity and respect for ALL. 

We are on a continuing journey of creating health for ourselves, our community, our systems and of being an active part of sustaining and creating health for our planet and her ecosystems. Replacing the unhealthy conqueror's mentality with a compassionate, sustainable, mutually beneficial vision is the healthy model we ALL need, now.



Living with Political Trauma- A series...

Most Americans are currently experiencing mental and emotional stress due to the high conflict environment created by the current party in political power. We are alternately angry, scared and worried on a daily basis by many of the words and actions our current political leaders are choosing.

When the mental and emotional stress is repetitive, worsening and we aren't sure when or if it will end, and the choices our political leaders make threaten our health, safety,  ability to make a living and our ability to agree on truth and a shared reality...

We are being collectively victimized and experiencing collective and personal trauma.

How do we cope with this?

Step 1.

Acknowledge we are being victimized by our current political system.

You may notice a lot of time is being spent on arguing if we can trust our government and if politicians really mean what they're saying or understand the consequences of their actions. This is a strategy. As long as we are questioning our reality and concentrating our energies on trying to figure out someone else's motives, we are not taking care of ourselves.

If you are a relatively healthy person in mind, body and spirit and making relatively healthy choices for yourself and your community, you can trust yourself.

This can not be overstated. And trusting yourself is a healthy choice when you're a healthy person.

Anyone who tells you different is lying to you and attempting to manipulate you. Whether they are doing it consciously or not doesn't matter, because they are doing it regardless.

And if you are a person who lives or has lived with PTSD, this ongoing assault on the truth is challenging you to care for your health and well-being more consciously and consistently. 

So, yes. Truth is under assault. We are being lied to, victimized and traumatized on a daily basis by a seriously dysfunctional and dangerous government in power. It is attempting to manipulate us by calling lies the truth and having us question our shared reality. This is hard to accept and very scary. Our bodies and our brains know this is going on and they are trying to protect us. They sense the danger. 

Step 2.

Understand how your body and brain cope with trauma.

The body's automatic response to stress/danger is to fight, flee and freeze. This response is triggered by our autonomic nervous system, most specifically the sympathetic. The sympathetic response to stress/trauma/danger is to dump hormones to get the body ready to fight, flee and freeze. In other words, to help us survive.

How are you personally reacting, most often, to the daily political assault? Are you posting, picketing and raging? Escaping, eating, drinking, ignoring, rationalizing? Numbing out, dreaming, dissociating, giving up, going along?

These are all sympathetic coping mechanisms our body's use to help us survive. And the more conscious we are of them and why we use them, the healthier our relationship with our trauma response system can be. Notice how your body and brain are reacting to the ongoing assault. Jot down your personal trauma response coping mechanisms. Thank them, and evaluate them. Which of them promote health?. Which of them, when overused, create disease processes? Then, evaluate your tool-kit of self-care. If you have one, use it. And use it regularly. If you don't have a self-care tool-kit, it is time to create one.

In Part 2, we will talk about trauma coping mechanisms and the self-care tool-kit. Until, then I wish you health, healing and self-care!







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 $20-$40 per treatment 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 $20-$40 per treatment 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 $20-$40 per treatment 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.