Women's Health - Lokahi Acupuncture

How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Supports Women’s Health Through Life’s Stages

Women’s health encompasses many stages, and each stage poses its set of unique situations and symptoms.

From puberty to menopause, women go through a multitude of changes that can be challenging to manage. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, offers a holistic approach to support women’s health throughout these stages.

In this article, we explore how acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle awareness can help women manage their health better as they transition through various stages.

We’ll also delve into how Traditional Chinese Medicine views the life cycles for women and how it can provide a holistic solution to women’s health problems.

Puberty:

Every woman’s journey through their reproductive phase begins with puberty, which usually starts between the ages of eight and thirteen.

For many girls, puberty can be a confusing and challenging time, as their bodies start to change, and their hormones go into overdrive. Some of the physical symptoms that may arise at this stage include acne, mood swings, irregular periods, and menstrual cramps.

Acupuncture can help balance the hormones, alleviate menstrual cramps or headaches, increase circulation, and reduce stress levels associated with puberty.

Pregnancy:

Pregnancy is a period of change of the utmost importance.

Yes, it is a beautiful and exciting time for most women, but it also comes with several health concerns. These range from morning sickness and back pain in the early stages to postpartum depression later on.

Acupuncture can help manage some symptoms related to pregnancy, such as nausea, back pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Moreover, it could prepare the body for labor and delivery.

Menopause:

Menopause marks the end of the reproductive phase and the beginning of a new phase of a woman’s life.

Women may experience different symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mucosal dryness, mood swings, osteoporosis, and so on.

Acupuncture has shown to reduce hot flashes, decrease sweating frequency, and stabilize mood and emotions. Herbal medicine may also help to alleviate symptoms and prevent bone loss.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the life cycles of women in eight-year cycles, and each phase comes with its set of symptoms.

Each cycle is related to a specific organ system and its corresponding emotions. For example, the kidney system, which includes the bladder and reproductive organs, is the primary organ system during the reproductive years. Each of these organs has a specific role they play in women’s physical, mental, or spiritual health.

During each cycle, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help support the body and mind. For instance, promoting circulation and removing blockages is critical during puberty, nourishing the blood and the reproductive organs during fertility years, and stabilizing Qi and Yin to prevent osteoporosis during menopause.

Herbal Medicine:

In countries such as China, herbal medicine that is supportive is often cooked into food like soups and congees. Small, consistent doses of herbs can be incorporated into a woman’s diet to promote hormonal balance and overall health. Herbal medicine aims to restore balance and harmony to the body, making it an excellent addition to other therapies such as acupuncture and lifestyle awareness.

As women transition through different stages of life, it is essential to support their overall health and well-being.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle awareness can provide a holistic approach to manage the different physical, mental, or emotional symptoms that arise at each stage. Traditional Chinese Medicine views women’s lives in eight-year cycles and offers specific treatments that align with each cycle. Incorporating herbal medicine into the diet can help balance hormones while providing other health benefits.

Focusing on prevention and early intervention, rather than waiting for issues to arise, is key to supporting women’s health through life’s stages.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or learn more about our services.

Lokahi Acupuncture
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Acupuncture for PCOS

How to Know What Type of PCOS You Have

Understanding the 4 Different Types of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

In this blog, we will explore each different types of PCOS, shedding light on their unique characteristics and offering insights into effective East Asian Medicine treatment approaches.

PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder that affects many women worldwide, and understanding its distinct variations and personalized treatment options is crucial for those navigating this condition.

1) Insulin-resistant PCOS: This is the most common type of PCOS, often linked to weight gain. When your body becomes resistant to insulin, your pancreas overworks, producing more insulin. This leads to an overproduction of testosterone, causing PCOS symptoms

2) Post-Pill PCOS: This type of PCOS is temporary and is typically seen after the discontinuation of hormonal birth control. The pill suppresses ovulation, and sometimes, the body takes a while to start it again, leading to PCOS symptoms.

3) Inflammatory PCOS: Chronic inflammation in the body can interrupt ovulation and lead to this type of PCOS. It’s often linked with other signs of inflammation such as skin conditions or joint pain.

4) Adrenal PCOS: This type of PCOS is less common and results from an overproduction of DHEA, a male hormone, by the adrenal glands instead of the ovaries which produces symptoms like acne, hair loss, or irregular periods.

Understanding the type of PCOS is instrumental in formulating an effective and targeted treatment strategy.

PCOS is not a one-size-fits-all condition, as it manifests in various ways and presents with different underlying factors.

Insulin-resistant PCOS

Insulin-resistant PCOS often occurs in women with a higher body fat percentage.

This type may cause weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area, due to the body’s inability to properly utilize insulin. This leads to higher glucose levels and increased fat storage.

Post-Pill PCOS

Post-Pill PCOS can affect any body type, as it is more directly linked to the cessation of hormonal birth control rather than physical attributes.

Symptoms may persist for several months, but they usually resolve once the body regulates its hormone production.

Inflammatory PCOS

Women with an inflammatory body type, who might already have body composition predisposed to inflammation, are more likely to develop Inflammatory PCOS. They might also struggle with other inflammatory conditions such as skin issues or joint pain.

Adrenal PCOS

Finally, Adrenal PCOS is more common in women with a lean body composition. Despite having a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), these women might experience symptoms like acne, hair loss, or irregular periods due to an overproduction of DHEA, a male hormone, by the adrenal glands.

Identifying Your Type of PCOS

By identifying the specific type of PCOS a person has, healthcare professionals can tailor interventions to address the root causes and alleviate symptoms more efficiently. For example, some individuals may experience PCOS primarily due to insulin resistance, while others may have elevated levels of androgens contributing to their symptoms.

Knowing these distinctions enables healthcare providers to recommend appropriate dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and medications that specifically target the underlying hormonal imbalances or metabolic dysfunctions associated with each type of PCOS.

This personalized approach significantly enhances the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes and improved quality of life for individuals affected by PCOS.

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture offer a holistic and integrative approach to managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). These traditional methods work on the principle of balancing energy or ‘qi’ within the body, thus promoting overall wellness rather than focusing solely on treating specific symptoms.

In this context, acupuncture, a key element of East Asian medicine, is used to stimulate specific points on the body. This stimulation can help regulate the endocrine system and improve blood flow to the ovaries, which in turn can balance hormone levels and promote regular ovulation. It’s believed that acupuncture may reduce insulin resistance, a key factor in Insulin-resistant PCOS, and lower inflammation levels associated with Inflammatory PCOS.

Furthermore, East Asian medicine also emphasizes the importance of lifestyle modifications.

Dietary changes, stress management, and regular physical activity are all integral parts of the treatment approach. These interventions aim to restore balance in the body and can be particularly effective in managing the weight gain often associated with PCOS and reducing the chronic inflammation that leads to Inflammatory PCOS.

Herbal medicine, another component of East Asian Medicine, often complements acupuncture in the treatment of PCOS. Various herbs are used to balance hormone levels, reduce inflammation, and address specific symptoms such as acne or menstrual irregularities.

​​At Lokahi, we understand the challenges that come with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Our team is well-versed in the intricacies of this condition and is dedicated to providing comprehensive support to our patients. If additional testing or a formal diagnosis is required, rest assured that we will guide you to the right professionals who can offer the necessary expertise.

We are committed to empowering our patients with the knowledge and resources they need to navigate their PCOS journey with confidence and take steps towards improved health and well-being.

In conclusion, East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture offer a different, complementary approach to PCOS treatment. They focus on restoring balance in the body’s systems, improving overall well-being, and addressing individual symptoms, based on the personal body composition and type of PCOS.

Resource: one of our favorite writers on women’s health: https://www.larabriden.com/4-types-of-pcos-a-flowchart/

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation today

Lokahi Acupuncture
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Acupuncture Treatment for Menstrual Cycle Issues

Acupuncture Treatment for Menstrual Cycle Issues

Are you one of the many women who find themselves dealing with menstrual cycle issues?

Whether it’s pain, irregularity or unpredictable flow, these issues can be daunting and frustrating.

You’re not alone- around 30% of women experience some sort of reproductive issue. If you are looking for an alternative to traditional western medicines, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine might just provide the relief you need.

In this article, we will explore how acupuncture treatment and Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used as a treatment for irregularities in menstruation and discuss some potential benefits.

What is acupuncture and how does it work for menstrual cycle issues?

Acupuncture treatment involves inserting thin sterile needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing.

While it may seem intimidating, many women have found relief from menstrual cramps, irregular periods, and other cycle-related issues.

Needles are very fine and inserted painlessly into specific acupuncture points on the body, which is said to work by restoring balance to the body’s energy flow, or qi, and stimulating the release of natural painkillers in the brain.

Benefits of acupuncture for regulating your menstrual cycle

If you are struggling with menstrual irregularity, you may want to consider acupuncture as an all-natural solution.

This form of Eastern medicine has been shown to effectively regulate menstrual cycles, without the need for invasive treatments or medications. By targeting specific acupuncture points on your body, acupuncture can help balance your hormones, reduce inflammation, relieve pain and encourage healthy blood flow to the uterus.

Not only can this lead to more regular periods, but it may also alleviate painful cramps, bloating, and other uncomfortable symptoms that often accompany menstruation.

What to expect at your first acupuncture appointment?

If you’ve never had acupuncture before, it’s natural to have some questions and maybe even a little nervousness about your first appointment.

Rest assured, though, that an expert acupuncturist will put you at ease and walk you through the process step by step.

When you arrive at Lokahi Acupuncture, you’ll start with a consultation where your acupuncturist will ask about your medical history and any specific concerns you have. Then, you’ll lie down on a comfortable table and the acupuncturist will begin placing tiny, hair-thin needles into acupuncture points on your body.

You may feel a slight pinch or tingling sensation, but the needles shouldn’t hurt. Then, you’ll simply relax and let the needles do their work, which can help with everything from pain relief to stress reduction.

By the end of your first appointment, you’ll likely feel both relaxed and energized, and you’ll be excited to come back for more!

How long will it take to see results from acupuncture treatment?

If you’ve never had acupuncture before, you may be wondering when you’ll start to see results.

The answer is, it depends.

Every person’s body is different and reacts differently to treatment. Some may see results after just one session, while others may take several sessions.

Because acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes, it may take some time for your body to respond to the treatment. It is important to find an acupuncture practitioner who you feel comfortable working with and who will help determine a treatment plan that will work best for you.

Common misconceptions about acupuncture treatments for menstrual cycle issues

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat various health issues, including menstrual cycle issues. Unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions surrounding acupuncture and its effectiveness for menstrual cycle issues.

One of the most common myths is that acupuncture is painful. While it does involve the use of acupuncture needles, they are very thin and typically cause no pain or discomfort.

Another misconception is that acupuncture is only helpful to treat pain. However, acupuncture can actually help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce other symptoms like bloating and mood swings.

Another consideration is that acupuncture can often be used alongside conventional treatments. If you’re considering acupuncture for menstrual cycle issues, it’s important to separate fact from fiction and speak to a qualified practitioner who can answer any questions you may have.

Tips for getting the most out of your acupuncture session

If you’re considering acupuncture as a way to regulate your menstrual cycle, there are a few tips to follow that can help you get the most out of your treatments.

Firstly, it’s important to find a licensed and experienced acupuncturist who specializes in treating menstrual issues.

During your appointment, be sure to communicate any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing so that the acupuncturist can tailor the treatment to your specific needs.

It’s also recommended to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and avoid alcohol and caffeine before and after your treatment to maximize its benefits.

And finally, be patient and consistent with your acupuncture sessions – it may take a few sessions before you start to notice significant improvements in your menstrual cycle.

With these tips in mind, acupuncture can be a safe and effective way to regulate your periods and improve your overall reproductive health.

In conclusion, acupuncture is an effective and natural way to improve the quality of your menstrual cycle.

It can help relieve stress, relieve pain, boost blood circulation in the pelvic area, and thicken the endometrium.

Acupuncture treatments are personalized to suit each individual’s needs and any questions or concerns a patient might have should be discussed prior to an appointment.

As a result, you should always feel comfortable and confident when it comes to seeking treatment for menstrual cycle irregularities.

With that being said, taking an informed step in the right direction towards optimizing your reproductive health through acupuncture is definitely worth considering – so why not schedule a free consultation today?

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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A Brief Introduction to Moxibustion

A Brief Introduction to Moxibustion

Have you ever heard of moxibustion?

You may have seen it before, or even experienced it during a visit to your acupuncturist. Moxibustion is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy that has been used to treat various health conditions for more than 2500 years. Let’s take a look at what exactly moxibustion is and how it’s used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What Is Moxibustion?

Mugwort, or artemisia, is a flowering species belonging to the daisy family. Moxibustion is an external treatment applied directly onto the surface of an acupoint to warm certain points on the body.

It involves the burning of moxa wool, which is made from dried mugwort plant material, until it produces heat that penetrates into the skin. The heat stimulates the flow of qi (energy) and blood throughout the body, which helps improve circulation and promote healing.

It can also help reduce pain and inflammation.

What Conditions Can Moxibustion Treat?

Moxibustion has the ability to balance and regulate qi, blood and yang energy; expel cold; warm yang energy; and protect against illnesses, helping to ensure overall health and well-being.

The most common usage of a moxa treatment in to turn a breech baby. In this case, indirect moxa is used on a point on the little toe every day for 10 days to turn a baby. It is effective and used by midwives and hospitals in Australia!

Moxibustion can also be used to treat a variety of conditions, including menstrual pain, arthritis in the joints of the fingers, chronic coughs due to cold accumulation in the lungs, digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea, and bleeding that will not stop.

How Is Moxibustion Applied?

Moxibustion is a therapeutic technique that involves the application of heat to specific acupuncture points on the body. It can be applied in various ways, including holding the lit end of a roll of dried mugwort near but not touching the skin, or placing moxa-infused wool on top of an acupuncture needle or close to the skin and letting it smolder for 10-15 minutes before removing it.

The frequency of treatment depends on the condition being treated – for some conditions it may be administered daily or twice weekly over a series of weeks or months.

Who should perform Moxabustion treatment?

It is important to only undergo moxibustion therapy with the assistance of a certified and qualified professional. If you receive acupuncture treatments, you can consult with your acupuncturist on whether they offer moxibustion services or can refer you to another trusted practitioner.

Moxibustion is a safe and effective form of traditional Chinese medicine therapy that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments ranging from menstrual pain to digestive issues. It works by stimulating qi flow throughout the body and promoting better circulation and improved overall health.

It remains one of our very favorite modalities due to its calming and warming properties, and is a fabulous way to level-up an acupuncture treatment!

Schedule a 15 minute video consultation to learn more about how our team of acupuncturists can support you!

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Acupuncture for PCOS

Acupuncture for PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine condition of reproductive-age women.

Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, or male sex hormones, that are  normally present in smaller amounts. This hormone imbalance causes the body to skip menstrual periods and can make it harder to get pregnant. The name polycystic ovarian syndrome describes the numerous small cysts that form in the ovaries. However, some women with this disorder do not have cysts.

The diagnosis of PCOS can be overwhelming especially if you are trying to get pregnant.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can improve your overall health and lead to a healthy pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods

  • Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)

  • Ovaries that are large or have many cysts

  • Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)

  • Acne or oily skin

  • Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

How can acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat PCOS?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can treat the symptoms of PCOS, while also addressing underlying imbalances and inflammation in the body. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs aid to regulate the endocrine system and improve circulation to the reproductive organs, thus improving egg quality and promoting ovulation.

In Traditional East Asian Medicine, we assess the patient and put together a profile of the symptoms.

Then we see if that profile fits a specific pattern that East Asian medicine has already identified, or whether it is a mixture of more than one pattern. Once we have identified the pattern, we can create a treatment plan. This is important since no one person presents in the same way.

The 4 main patterns are:

  • Kidney Yang Deficiency: always feeling cold, low thyroid function, loose stools, low sex drive, pale tongue, frequent urination

  • Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness: bloating, loose stools, low thyroid function, anemia, brain fog, cold hands or feet, low energy, puffy tongue with tooth marks

  • Liver Qi Stagnation Transforming to Heat: headaches, constipation, IBS symptoms, depression, distention and pain in the breasts, irritability, tongue color red or slightly purple especially on the sides of the tongue

  • Kidney Yin Deficiency: insomnia, anxiety, thirst, low back pain, dry skin, short menstrual cycles, the tongue is thin, red, and dry

We treat the whole body, including our patients’ underlying factors and symptoms of PCOS.

Once we know which pattern or patterns apply we know which acupuncture points, herbal formulas, diet and lifestyle recommendations we might make. Since PCOS is such a complex syndrome, we do not subscribe to the idea that one size fits all. Rather we take our time to figure out a sustainable set of steps to support the body in coming back to balance.

Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective in the treatment of PCOS as well as lifestyle and dietary modifications. If you would like to know more about how acupuncture and herbs can be helpful for you, give us a call for a free 15-min consultation!

Cara Ortiz, L.Ac. joined the fertility team at Lokahi Acupuncture in 2022 and specializes in working with fertility patients with PCOS and thyroid conditions.

Cara Ortiz, L.Ac.
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Castor Oil Packs for Fertility & Painful Periods

Castor Oil Packs for Painful Periods and Fertility Support

Castor oil therapy is used frequently in acupuncture for fertility, and it’s a versatile tool in your acupuncturist’s healing toolkit. We use a warm castor oil wrap over the abdomen in order to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.

Castor oil is absorbed easily into the tissues below, delivering healing directly into the abdomen. This natural method is often used to treat gynecological disorders related to blockage in the body such as endometriosis, adhesions or scar tissue, painful menstrual cramps, fallopian tube blockage and cysts. 

Castor oil packs for fertility 

Fertility is predicated on a healthy uterus. When our uterus is provided with a healthy, rich supply of oxygenated blood, it helps create an optimal environment for an embryo to implant. 

Castor oil packs for menstrual cramps

A healthy uterine lining sheds more easily, and likely with less menstrual cramping. Castor oil packs bring the nutrient rich blood to the uterus, which supports a healthy lining that will shed at the end of a cycle. A good lining makes for a smoother menstrual cycle.

In addition to bringing blood to the uterus, if a blockage is causing the cramps, regular application of castor oil packs can encourage blood flow to move micro-adhesions and clots out of the body during menstrual flow.

Castor oil packs for the immune system

A congested lymphatic system can cause swelling. It also means that toxins are not being efficiently removed from our cells and tissues. We clearly see this when we fly – our legs swell from lack of movement, and our tongues become swollen and slightly purple.

This congestion is not optimal for health and can compromise our immune system. Scientific studies have shown that Castor oil treatments can boost the immune system by increasing the total lymphocyte count, which is an indication the immune system is upregulating.

Considerations:

Castor oil is a generally safe and effective therapy; however, please do not use it on broken skin or if your are pregnant. At Lokahi Acupuncture, we individualize each recommendation, but as a general rule of thumb, please avoid castor oil packs during your menstrual period, or uterine bleeding for any other reason, and stop therapy after ovulation if you are trying to conceive. Additionally, Castor oil should not be taken internally. It causes abdominal spasms and can stimulate uterine contractions causing miscarriage.

To Make a castor oil pack you will need the following items:

How to apply castor oil packs

  1. Soak one of the flannel pieces in 1 cup of castor oil. Place the soaked flannel over your whole abdomen (make sure to include the liver and the uterus). You can re-use these afterwards by storing in a plastic zip-lock bag. 
  2. Place one piece of plastic on top and then place the towel.
  3. On top of the towel, place the warm water bottle, a heating pad, or the buckwheat pack. The pack should remain in place for at least one hour.
  4. When removing the pack, the remaining oil can be massaged into the skin or cleaned off using the other clean flannel cloth.

Tip –  Plan this for a time when you can sit down and relax, like in the evening watching TV.

Pro Tip – To make a quick and easy castor oil pack:

  • Rub a tablespoon of castor oil on abdomen
  • Place an old towel on top of the oil
  • Place a hot water bottle on top of the towel and rest for 45 minutes

If you would like to schedule a free 15 min consultation with one of our fertility specialists, you can book here.  You can place an order on our online dispensary for your castor oil essentials.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Endometriosis - Can Acupuncture Help?

Endometriosis – Can Acupuncture Help?

Living with endometriosis can be extremely painful and cause symptoms such as bloating, gastric distress and infertility.

Endometriosis results from 3 main imbalances in the body: 

  • hormone imbalance
  • immune dysfunction
  • inflammation

In order to address endometriosis fully, we must address each of these imbalances. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a great tool since it can support healing in each of these areas.

Hormone Imbalance

High estrogen levels are seen in patients with endometriosis. However, the fix is not as simple as adding birth control or other hormonal treatment to balance things out. We have to determine why the body is making so much estrogen.

Acupuncture works with Chinese herbs in the body in a multi-dimensional way. Using a combination of acupuncture needles with Chinese herbal formulas, treatment brings the whole body back into a homeostasis, or balance, including the balance of hormones.

Immune Dysfunction

A large component of endometriosis is immune dysfunction and dysregulation. There is some debate as to whether it’s an autoimmune condition, but we do know/suspect that the immune system is working overtime in cases of endometriosis.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help calm the immune system from overreacting, which is also why acupuncture is effective for allergies. Regular treatment can bring the body back into equilibrium, allowing for a more optimal immune response.

Inflammation

“Inflammation” is not a word used frequently in Chinese Medicine. However, it does serve to illustrate that the body exhibits signs of heat and toxicity in those with endometriosis.  When the body is on “high alert”, a host of other symptoms result, such as pain all over the body, bloating, indigestion and thyroid issues. The goal of Chinese Medicine is calming the body and bringing it back to a more balanced and stable state. We typically work with a combination of acupuncture, diet, Chinese herbs and supplements to coax the body into a happier state.

So, Can Acupuncture help?

A well-trained acupuncturist can be extremely helpful in interrupting the dysregulation in your body, relieving symptoms and pain, and getting you on the right track with diet, herbs and nutritional supplements.

Additionally, a practitioner with experience with endometriosis can help refer you to local Western medicine specialists for a holistic approach. If you are interested in chatting with one of our practitioners, you can book a free online consultation here.

More Resources

One of our favorite resources for educating patients on endometriosis and how it affects the female hormonal system is Lara Briden . Another fabulous resource with actionable recipes and food plans is Katie Edmonds’s book: The 4-Week Endometriosis Diet Plan.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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