Author Archives: MonicaLegatt

About MonicaLegatt

Monica Legatt is a licensed acupuncturist practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine in Seattle at her clinic Downtown Seattle Acupuncture & Massage.

Acupuncture Testimonial: Acupuncture Alleviates Pain in Neck, Shoulder, Arms, Legs & Hip

Today we received this wonderful testimonial from our patient to put up on our blog and website.  Thanks Pete!  

6410b acup Acupuncture Testimonial: Acupuncture Alleviates Pain in Neck, Shoulder, Arms, Legs & Hip

I had been having lots of symptoms and considerable pain and discomfort for almost a year prior to visiting Monica.  The doctors had been generally confused, unhelpful and expensive.  I despaired that I would ever be 100% again.

 Monica immediately diagnosed my condition, and from the first session I had dramatic improvement.  All my symptoms have been greatly reduced.  Monica is a very good listener and very collaborative in designing the acupuncture treatments.  I am not 100%, because that will take some time, but my condition is greatly improved and I am confident I will fully recover.

 I would recommend Monica to anyone for any condition they think is suited to acupuncture.  She is the only person that was able to help me.

 Pete Sher


Pete is a patient of Monica Legatt who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine at Downtown Seattle Acupuncture





Acupuncture For Sports Medicine and Injuries


7e2a4 kyle2 Acupuncture For Sports Medicine and Injuries


For professional and amateur athletes alike, it is important to get back to their peak performance as soon as possible after sustaining an injuryAcupuncture is extremely effective at treating sports injuries and chronic pain.  There is ample research demnstrating the efficacy of acupuncture for pain relief and sports injuries.   

 At your first visit your licensed acupuncturist will assess your condition and prescribe an acupuncture treatment protocol. Acute or new conditions can typically be resolved within three to six acupuncture treatments.  Chronic conditions may require more treatments over time: at each treatment your injury will be re-evaluated to ensure that your recovery is as expedient as possible.

 Many of my patients are amazed at the results they see with acupuncture: it has been used for thousands of years to cure martial-arts injuries in Asian countries.  Today it is used by athletes in virtually every professional sport to treat injuries and to optimize performance. 

Acupuncture Can Provide:

           Alleviation of pain

Reduction of swelling & inflammation

            Increased blood flow to the region

            Faster healing of the injury


Treatment Modalities Used for Injuries:



            Electric-stimulation acupuncture

            Massage with medicated liniment (i.e. Tiger Balm)

            Chinese Herbal prescription for trauma or pain


I have had the honor to have worked with a wide variety of athletes and artists including major league baseball players, soccer players, cyclists, marathoners, triathletes, Broadway singers & dancers, opera singers, professional ballet dancers, salsa dancers, swimmers, professional musicians, tango dancers, a javelin thrower and a professional curler.  I have also worked with many dedicated weight lifters: parents lifting their kids. 

 Click here for a comprehensive list of injuries acupuncture can treat.

For more information about sports injury treatment and Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, please feel free to cotact me:  Monica Legatt, LAC


Doulas For Birth

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Photograph courtesy of Wesley Kronick

Have you ever heard of someone employing a doula to attend their birth and wondered exactly what a doula is?  A doula is a trained labor companion who assists her clients in the physical, emotional, and informational aspects of labor before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas meet with their clients prior to the birth to better understand their needs and to discuss options for the upcoming birth.  Doulas provide reassurance and perspective, make suggestions for labor progress, and help with positioning, massage, relaxation and other techniques for comfort during labor. Doulas give advice and resources for after the birth of the baby.  Doulas also provide continuous labor support: they don’t leave until after the baby has been born.   And, doulas are not  just for mothers. Doulas help partners and other family members to understand the labor process and how to best assist in the birth and postpartum period in ways that they feel most comfortable.  Doulas are not there to take the place of a father or partner.  To the contrary, the experienced doula recognizes when to be of strong presence and support as well as when to stand aside.

Why hire a doula? Studies have shown that having a doula present as a part of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, reduction in epidural requests by 60%, and reduction in synthetic oxytocin use by 40%.  Women who used a doula were two times more likely to be breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum than women who choose not to.  A doula works with their client to create the birth experience that the client most desires.  She is aware that no two births are exactly the same and is prepared to handle diverse situations.  Assistance from a doula is beneficial in all birth settings whether it is at home, a birth center, or a hospital.  She helps with all birth scenarios be it a planned, un-medicated birth, a medicated one, or a cesarean birth.

The motivations to become a doula are diverse: it may be a personal birth experience, a passion regarding birthing rights, a desire to nurture, or simply a love of babies.  Doulas are extremely passionate about the work that they do.  So much so that many doulas refer to the profession as a calling.  Doulas come to this road from many different paths. We have different styles, different backgrounds and different personalities, so there is likely the right doula for every woman who wants one.  If you would like to find the doula that is right for you there are many different resources: talk to your midwife, your OB, or your friends; or you can visit Doula Match, DONA International, or PALS Doulas, just to name a few.

 My hope is that your birth reflects you and your desires, and that you always feel respected and heard.  I wish you all the best in this exciting time in your life.


Lisa Shire, Birth Doula

Lisa is patient of Downtown Seattle Acupuncture and has prepared for the birth of two children using acupuncture.  Monica Legatt LAC is honored to have her as a guest contributor to this blog.  She may be reaced for additional questions and for doula services at Hand To Lend.  

References: Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have A Shorter Easier Healthier Birth by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus (1993) and


Steampunk Medicine: An Interview With Artist James Ng by Author Nisi Shawl

9c631 crystalherbalist Steampunk Medicine: An Interview With Artist James Ng by Author Nisi Shawl

James Ng is a visual artist who makes his two homes in his native Hong Kong and his adopted city of Vancouver, BC.  He was the headline artist in the March 2011 Steampunk Exhibition, and he’s the winner of the 2009 Digital Artist Award for Concept Art.  I was introduced to James’s work via postcard-sized reproduction of his Imperial Steam series, and subsequently acquired the use of his painting “Thought Process” for the cover of The WisCon Chronicles 5: Writing and Racial Identity, which I edited.  Later, he agreed to be the featured artist for the inaugural issue of the literary quarterly The Cascadia Subduction Zone.

 Since then I’ve kept up with James’s exciting oeuvre through his website.  His latest painting, “Crystal Herbalist,” moves me in many ways, and resonates nicely with the topic of this blog.  James has allowed us to reproduce the painting here and ask him a few related questions.

 Your Imperial Steam series of paintings, you’ve said, plays with the premise that our last two centuries of modernization could have been driven not by the West, but by China.  Palanquins, pagodas, and other images fill the canvas–how do you use them to evoke an alternate present and future, rather than the past we often associate with them?

 That’s something I ask myself every time I create a piece for my series. I want to make sure that it stems from the idea of “What would be possible today” instead of just painting something from the past and adding futuristic elements to it. I look at my series like a thesis paper; the original question of “What things would look like today if technology was led by another culture” being my thesis, and each painting acting as a supportive paragraph helping the reader ponder the possibilities. To achieve that aesthetic, I do a lot of research on Chinese history to see what was important before western colonization.



In August of 2012, when I first saw your painting “Crystal Herbalist,” you sent it to me with this explanation of the concept:

 “Using the steam-powered alchemical furnace, the Crystal Herbalist fuses ingredients into a powerful, smokable extract. The powdered medicine is burned and inhaled while she measures the potency of each brew using her reinforced lungs and heart. Through the reflection of a mirror she looks within herself, assessing the lights and valves to calculate the effects of each new concoction.”

 Do you have anything to add at this point?

 That caption still tells the story pretty well. Like I mentioned earlier, my series is based on Chinese culture, and herbal medicine plays an important role there. One of the main ideas that came up when I originally envisioned my series was that the technology advanced in the direction the culture pointed. In today’s world, most cultures are catching up to the West, which sets the bar other cultures aim to hit. But what if technology from nonwestern worlds moved forward without the goal of meeting a certain standard? If the Chinese believed in their herbal medicine and wanted to continue to make it more effective, this would no doubt drive experiments and research in creating suitable technology.

 We have made incredible technological progress in the last 200 years, probably more than our entire history as a human race. This progress was driven mainly by western science and belief, which is why western practices are the most effective in the modern world. There is no denying the effectiveness of western medical practice–my father is actually a western doctor in a hospital in Hong Kong. I simply wonder what possibilities there might have been if the massive influx of technology was developed and driven by a different culture and from different beliefs.

 Can you write a little bit about your experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine?  Are there connections between the philosophical basis of TCM and your approach to creativity–balance, harmony, etc.?

 Most of the time I use western forms of treatment, because my father is a western-style doctor, and he has a regular supply of western medicine. However, I am very into combat sports, and sometimes when I suffer injuries I seek out Chinese doctors for sores, bruises, and tears.

 I have not thought about the correlations between TCM theory and my artwork, though if you mention balance and harmony, those are things I take into account for every piece of artwork that I do. Balance–between warm and cool and light and dark–is a very important part of an artist’s train of thought, and harmony between shapes and colors is just as important.

 Are you working on other paintings in the Imperial Steam series?  What can you tell us about them?

 Yes, I am. The series has taken a backseat in the last few months to my commissions, but it is something I will always work on. Currently I’m planning to design a sport or competition that is unique to this world that I’m building. I’m leaning towards something to do with traditional lion dance celebration or martial arts, with the aid of steam technology.

 Interview conducted by author Nisi Shawl who is a long-time patient and friend of Monica Legatt LAC, acupuncturist at Downtown Seattle Acupuncture.  


Going Gluten Free by Melissa McCarty ND

dcb26 oats Going Gluten Free by Melissa McCarty ND

I often recommend patients try a gluten-free diet because it is one of the most inflammatory and reactive proteins we eat. Gluten is found in many grains including:

·         Wheat (durum, kamut, graham, semolina, spelt)

·         Rye

·         Barley

·         Triticale

·         Bulgur

·         Couscous

·         Einkorn

·         Emmer

·         Faro

·         Malt extract, malt flavoring, malt syrup

·         Oats** (Oats are naturally gluten free but they are processed or rolled in the same facilities as gluten products. Gluten is sticky and sticks to the machines and attaches to oats this way.)

·                           Be aware that “wheat-free” does NOT guarantee gluten-free. Breads made from carob-soy flour can contain up to 80% wheat flour.


Grains that are gluten-free and safe to have on a gluten-free diet are: rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, garfava, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff and nut flours

 The extreme form of gluten intolerance is called Celiac Disease. In this autoimmune process, the body has an immune response to gluten that causes it to attack it’s own intestinal walls and damages them, making it very difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.  Celiac disease is screened for with a blood test and often confirmed with a biopsy of the intestinal wall. Sometimes if the blood test is negative but there is a high suspicion of the disease, a biopsy will be done anyway.

 If you don’t have Celiac Disease, the best way to know if gluten is a problem is to eliminate it from your diet for a few weeks (I usually recommend 3-4 weeks) and see if you feel any difference. Most people have a symptom (or many symptoms) that is irritating enough to them that they want to give elimination a shot. Some of the more common symptoms I see are:

Skin:  eczema, dermatitis, itching, hives, swelling, redness, acne, dark circles under eyes

Gastrointestinal:  diarrhea, gas, nausea/vomiting, cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation

Respiratory:  wheezing, nasal congestion, trouble breathing, asthma

Other:  joint pain, swelling (lips, tongue, face, throat), headache, migraines, brain fog, fatigue, fertility issues

Below is a list of food categories and specific foods that are allowed and ones that should be avoided when going gluten free (abbreviated “GF”). Additional resources are listed at the end of this list.


Allowed:       Specially prepared breads using only these flours: amaranth, arrowroot, bean, buckwheat, chia, corn, flax, Indian rice grass, mesquite, millet, nut, pure gluten-free oats, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and teff.


Be careful with oat bread (see above)


Avoid:             Breads containing wheat (including einkorn, Durham, faro, graham, semolina, spelt), rye, barley, triticale, Kamut, bulgur, or couscous.


Flours/Thickening agents

Allowed:           Amaranth, arrowroot starch, bean flour, buckwheat, chia, corn bran, corn flour, corn germ, corn meal, corn starch, mesquite, millet, Montina (Indian rice grass, GF oats, potato flour, potato starch, quinoa, rice bran, rice flour (brown, white, or sweet OK), rice polish, rice starch flour, sorghum flour, soy flour, tapioca starch, teff.


Dairy Products

Allowed:       Fresh, dry, evaporated, or condensed milk; cream; sour cream**; whipping cream; yogurt


Avoid:             Malted milk; some commercial chocolate drinks**; some non-dairy creamers**

**Consult label and contact manufacturers about questionable ingredients


Meat, Fish, Poultry

Allowed:       All fresh meats, seafood, poultry

Be careful with some processed meats (hot dogs, lunch meats, cured meats), as well as some fish canned in water, oil, brine, or vegetable broth.


Avoid:             Prepared or processed meats containing grains to avoid, such as: some sausages*, hot dogs*; bologna*; and luncheon meats; *Chili con carne*; bread-containing products, such as Swiss steak, meat loaf, meatballs, and croquettes; tuna canned with hydrolyzed protein*; turkey with hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) injected as part of the basting solution; “imitation crab” or other meat analogs containing wheat starch or other unacceptable filler; quick individually frozen (QIF) seafood ‡


*Consult label and contact manufacturer to clarify questionable ingredients.

‡May be dusted with flour or other starches in processing.



Allowed:       Plain or in cooking.


Avoid:             Eggs in sauces made from wheat, rye, oats, or barley. Wheat flour is often used in white sauces. Note that some restaurants may add a wheat-based filler to scrambled eggs and omelets.


Potato, Rice, Pasta, or other Starches

Allowed:       White and sweet potatoes; yams; hominy; rice; wild rice; special pasta made from rice, corn, soy or other allowed ingredients. Some Asian rice* and bean thread noodles.


Avoid:             Regular noodles; spaghetti or macaroni made from grains not allowed. Most packaged* or frozen rice or pasta side dishes*.

*Consult label and contact manufacturers about questionable ingredients



Allowed:       All plain, fresh, frozen or canned vegetables


Be careful with some commercially prepared vegetables.


Avoid:             Creamed vegetables*, vegetables canned in sauce*, some canned beans*, and commercially-prepared vegetables and salads.

                            *Consult label and contact manufacturers to clarify questionable ingredients.



Allowed:       All fresh, frozen, canned fruits


Be careful with some dried fruits*.


Avoid:             Thickened or prepared fruits, some pie fillings


                            *Consult label and contact manufacturers to clarify questionable ingredients.


To learn more:

o        The Gluten Intolerance Group

o        Celiac Disease Foundation 

o        National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse: Celiac Disease

o        “Is That Gluten Free?” iPhone App (allows you to search ingredients, brands, products and tells you if it contains gluten)

o        Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog for GREAT recipes: 



Dr. Melissa McCarty

Naturopathic Physician

Seattle Integrative Medicine

5322 Roosevelt Way NE

Seattle, WA 98105




New Study Suggests Acupuncture May Improve Bell’s Palsy

29de8 012 New Study Suggests Acupuncture May Improve Bell’s Palsy

Each year, about 40,000 Americans get Bell’s palsy, which results in a temporary

facial paralysis that usually affects one side and lasts a few months. A steroid called

Prednisone, along with over the counter analgesics, vitamins, physical therapy, and

acupuncture are often used to treat the condition. However, a new study from

China reveals that a more intensive form of acupuncture produces significantly

better results when added to prednisone treatment than low-intensity acupuncture

for patients with Bell’s palsy.  This more intensive form of acupuncture requires the

acupuncturist to achieve “De qi.”


“De qi” is the term used for the sensation felt when an acupuncturist reaches the

level of qi in the body. Before acupoints are stimulated, they must first be opened to

access the channel passing through it. Acupoints contain the qi, and they allow the

qi to flow outwards to the body’s surface. When correct stimulation is applied, the

qi is activated in the desired channels and areas of the body, offering appropriate

therapeutic results.  Click here for more details on what acupuncture feels like.  


The needle may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths,

heated, or charged with a small electrical current until the de qi sensation occurs.

Patients have described the sensation in many ways, including warm, cold, tingling,

and heavy. De qi is also felt by the practitioner and can signal that the proper

amount of needle stimulation is being performed. According to one of the study’s

authors, Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the combination of feelings

associated with de qi to provide the best therapeutic benefit.


Dr. Wei Wang at Key Laboratory of Neurological Diseases of Chinese Ministry of

Education in Wuhan, Hubei, conducted a randomized control study to see whether

de qi makes a difference in the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy. He and his

colleagues asked 317 adults with Bell’s palsy to undergo five half-hour acupuncture

treatments for four weeks. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to

receive treatments that would elicit de qi, and the other half received the traditional

acupuncture treatment in which the needle is inserted and left alone. All of the

participants, however, received prednisone.


Using a scale of 200 to rate patients’ facial function, neurologists found that patients

started with scores around 130 to 135. They did not know which treatment

each participant had received, and patients were rated again after six months of

treatment. Those in the de qi group had an average score of 195 while the other

group scored an average of 186. Although a nine point difference may not seem

significant, Wang notes that this would be noticeable to patients.


Although the study did not measure how well people would have recovered without

receiving acupuncture, or with no treatment at all, the researchers found that 94

percent of the participants who received de qi completely recovered their facial

function by the end of six months. Only 77 percent of patients in the other group

experienced a full recovery.


Many Americans are turning to alternative medicine to treat their medical

problems, and nearly half of physicians in the U.S. have either referred patients

to acupuncturists or would be open to making such a referral. Shands Hospital

in Florida is opening a new Center for Integrative Medicine to provide patients

with other forms of healing, such as acupuncture. This shift may be a result of the

prevalence of doctors prescribing pain medications inappropriately. 


Despite its growing popularity, patients should remember that acupuncture also

comes with risks, fraud and misrepresentation. Patients who are interested in

acupuncture should ensure that their acupuncturists are accredited and have a well-

known reputation for providing exceptional standards of care.  Click here for details about the 

licensing requirements for acupuncture in Washington State.  



This blog post was kindly contributed to the Downtown Seattle Acupuncture blog by Ashley Burns.  


For more information on treating bells palsy with acupuncture, contact Monica Legatt, Licensed Acupuncturist

The Benefits of Acupressure: 19 Blogposts Using Acupressure to Improve Your Well-Being

cb757 pressure The Benefits of Acupressure: 19 Blogposts Using Acupressure to Improve Your Well Being

Acupressure is a treatment modality within Traditional Chinese Medicine: any energy point that can benefit from acupuncture with an acupuncture needle can also benefit from manual stimulation with your finger to achieve a similar benefit.  The following article was graciously provided to us by the administrator at Share a Nanny Blog:  


Acupressure has been used for centuries as a means for treating the body and mind.  You can do acupressure on yourself or have a specialist do it for you. By applying pressure to certain points called acupressure points it is believed that you can fix the energy flow (or chi) in the body.  These 19 blogs will provide charts and illustrations to show the acupressure points and explain how acupressure can help with pain reduction, physical ailments and overall relaxation.

Pain Reduction

Acupressure is a drug free way to help relieve pain in different areas of the body.  You can even use acupressure during labor to help ease the pain of childbirth.  If your foot hurts, there’s a pressure point for that, but it’s different than the pressure point used for back pain. Each area of the body will be explained, along with techniques regarding pain relief in specific areas.

  • Pressure Points for Neck & Shoulder Pain: There’s a point between your index and middle finger that you can press to alleviate pain in your neck and shoulders.  This post will explain how to find and press it.
  • Acupressure for Menstrual Pain:  If you suffer from pain with your period, this blog post is for you, as it explains and illustrates where pressure should be applied on the leg to relieve period pain.
  • Acupressure Points for the Hips, Low Back & Sciatica:  In this article you can find a sketch and a picture that show you where to apply pressure and an explanation for how to apply the pressure for the best relief of hip pain.
  • Pressure Point Massage Relieves Jaw Pain:  This blog contains a helpful video that shows where and how to massage to relieve your jaw pain.
  • Shoulder & Neck Acupressure Points: This video explains in detail how to find the pressure points and how you can apply pressure to specific points yourself to relieve pain and stress in your neck and shoulders.

Physical Ailments

If you are suffering with insomnia, there are acupressure points to help you fall asleep faster.  There are acupressure points all over your body to help other issues, such as allergies, snoring, nausea, a cold or even cancer.  This alternative treatment allows you to avoid medicines that may have negative side effects.

  • Acupressure for Colds & Flus:  Several pressure points are explained in this article, as well as how pressure should be applied in order to get relief from the common cold and flu symptoms.
  • Treat Snoring with Acupressure: This article explains how you can wear a ring called an acupressure ring while you sleep that may stop you from snoring.
  • Acupressure for Nausea: If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, you may have seen people wearing acupressure bracelets.  These special bracelets apply pressure on the wrist to help reduce or stop nausea.  This article explains more about this pressure point.
  • Acupressure Massage:  Several conditions that can be treated with acupressure are listed on this blog post, such as weight loss and speeding up labor during childbirth.
  • Acupressure to Induce Labor:  A clear explanation of how to apply pressure to start labor can be found on this post.
  • Acupressure & Reflexology Charts Collection: You can find a comprehensive collection of acupressure charts on this post.
  • Essential Oils & Acupressure Points for Allergies: Several steps are explained regarding how to relieve allergy symptoms with a combination of essential oils and pressure points.


After a long day at work you may need to relax the muscles in your neck and your back, especially if you sit in a desk chair all day.  Acupressure treatments can relieve tight muscles and help you to relax.

The author of this blog Monica Legatt LAc would like to thank the administrator of Share A Nanny for sharing this blogpost.  Make sure to visit for extensive information on choosing, employing and sharing a nanny, parenting tips and other useful topics for parents!



Acupuncture for Lactation & Milk Supply

90f16  dsc0133   copy Acupuncture for Lactation & Milk Supply

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is highly effective for treating lactation problems and without negative side effects.  It is a system of medicine deriving from East Asia that is thousands of years old: it includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage, nutrition, lifestyle guidance and less-known treatment modalities such as cupping and moxibustion.  Depending on your specific diagnosis, one or several of these healing modalities will be part of your treatment protocol.  Choosing a practitioner who is experienced treating women during pregnancy and post-partum is important if you are facing lactation challenges.

In TCM lactation disorders fall into two distinct categories: low milk supply or milk not flowing.  Mastitis makes up a third category that I will explain later.  Low milk supply is a diagnosis of insufficient energy (called Chi) and blood supply in the mother.  Milk not flowing or problems with let-down are diagnosed as stagnation of energy (chi) preventing milk from moving down the ducts and out of the nipple.  It is not unusual for a mother to have a combination of deficiency (lack of energy and blood) and stagnation (unable to let-down or express the milk) at the same time.

In TCM it is understood that a woman’s menstrual blood is converted into breast milk once her baby is born.  This is the same blood that was going to the placenta prior to birth.  Energy (chi) is required to convert her blood into milk, and blood itself is required to become the milk.  A predisposition toward anemia or blood loss during delivery can result in a low supply of the mother’s blood resulting in poor milk supply.  Exhaustion due to labor and sleep deprivation can prevent the mother’s body from producing milk because there is not enough energy to generate the milk. 

When chi (energy) and blood supply is deficient causing low milk supply, the treatment plan will include acupuncture, possibly an herbal prescription and nutritional guidance.  Nutrition is a very important component of the treatment for low milk supply.  Any food that is good for the production of blood in the mother will help with milk supply.  This includes organic red meats, fish, eggs, and collagen-rich soups made from ham-hocks or chicken with the skin included in the soup stock.  When nursing, it is especially important for a mother to eat organic and free-range meats and poultry if possible.  If the mother is vegetarian, a protein-rich diet is important.  Milk Makers cookies to support milk supply are an excellent daily addition to the diet of a woman with chi and blood deficiency because the cookies include specific ingredients that help increase her chi (energy) and blood production, thereby increasing milk supply.  A TCM practitioner who is experienced treating breastfeeding patients will go over additional nutritional advice extensively with you. 

Stagnation or blockage of energy (chi) in and around the breasts prevents the milk from flowing and impairs let-down.  Stagnation can lead to breast fullness, distension, pain, pressure and engorgement.  Stagnation is also a cause of mastitis.  In TCM the primary cause of this blockage is emotional: feelings of being stressed-out, anger, resentment, frustration and depression.  These emotions cause stagnation of the energy of the liver energy channel. In TCM the liver channel controls the woman’s nipple function and also can facilitate or block the flow of energy and by extension milk in the surrounding energy channels and ducts in the breast.  Stagnation causing problems with let-down and milk flow is treated most effectively with acupuncture, massage therapy and by keeping the mother away from any sources of emotional stress. 

Mastitis is a combination of stagnation of chi, blood and milk in combination with infection.  Combining Western medicine with TCM to treat mastitis is more effective than Western medicine by itself.  Antibiotics prescribed by your physician will clear up the infection, and a combination of acupuncture, massage, herbs and medicinal compresses for the breast can alleviate the blocked chi and blood and milk in the breast, thereby reducing engorgement and inflammation.   Herbal prescriptions can be combined safely with antibiotics as a treatment protocol and are also safe for the breastfeeding infant.  In addition to the above mentioned treatments, expressing milk as often as possible either manually, via nursing, or with a pump is very crucial in the successful treatment of mastitis.

Whatever your particular breastfeeding challenge is, consulting with a professional lactation consultant is helpful.  I recommend finding a qualified IBCLC.  

If you have any questions about Traditional Chinese Medicine and lactation please don’t hesitate to contact me online at


Outside Her Head: an Interview with Monica Legatt by Nisi Shawl

28079 yinyangspiral Outside Her Head: an Interview with Monica Legatt by Nisi Shawl

Receiving acupuncture treatments always causes questions to rise up in me. Maybe because that sort of thing happens to everybody? Or maybe it only happens to me, because I’m a writer? There I go again….

I sent Monica some of my questions via email and she answered a few. I’ve split our exchange into two posts. Here, for starters are her responses about getting started.

NS: Do you think of yourself more as an acupuncturist or as a practitioner of Chinese medicine?

ML: I definitely consider myself a practitioner of an entire system of medicine, not just acupuncture, which is only one modality of treatment within Traditional Chinese Medicine. Washington State recently changed my medical license title to East Asian Medicine Practitioner instead of Licensed Acupuncturist to reflect that. 

NS: What drew you to this practice?

ML: I was drawn to the study of alternative medicine when I took a class on it in college from a professor who began his career as a Western medicine physician. He said to me that the cause of disease in human beings is spiritual:

 by the time illness manifests in the physical body it is very hard to treat.

So he left the medical field to pursue a career in ministry, and eventually became a professor of religious studies at the University of Puget Sound, which is where he taught me from 1988 to 1992. His name is Richard Overman, and I consider him to be my first and most important mentor. His class was really about healing within medical traditions that are not divorced from a spiritual or religious origin.

 My area of interest at the time was esoteric religious traditions. Examples of these might be Sufism, or Zen Buddhism, or the Gnostic gospels within Christianity. I thought seriously about pursuing graduate studies in East Asian Religions such as Buddhism and Taoism, but decided to study acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine instead because

I wanted to practice concepts found in these traditions instead of being an academic and staying “in my head.”

NS: Are there other motivations for becoming a practitioner of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?

ML: My teacher Richard Overman (mentioned above) told me something I’ve remembered all of my life. He said that very often people are attracted to the psychological and medical fields as students because what they are really seeking is to be healed. They do not end up being good practitioners of medicine or psychology, but they abound in schools for these disciplines.

It’s one thing to study a healing art form academically and it is something completely different to practice it with skill.  

My aim has always been to do the latter.


Interview conducted by author Nisi Shawl