The Common Cold and Acupuncture

The ideal use of acupuncture during cold and flu season is to strengthen your immune system in order to avoid getting sick.

But sometimes life happens, we miss our treatments, forget to take our herbs, slip up on our diet. And that scratchy throat and achy, chilled feeling begins to take hold.

But did you know that the onset of a cold is also a great time to schedule an acupuncture treatment?

The common cold in Chinese Medicine is known as a “Wind Invasion.” Wind enters at the nape of the neck, which is why you will often notice feeling stiff in the neck and shoulders before coming down with a cold. That’s your first warning sign actually. If there is a sore throat as well, we call that a Wind Heat Invasion. If you just feel achy and have chills, we call that a Wind Cold Invasion. In either case, the combination of acupuncture and herbs can turn a 7-10 day cold and cough into a mere 1-2 day inconvenience. Obviously the sooner you identify your symptoms and get in for a treatment, the sooner the symptoms are eradicated. Some people feel fine within a matter of hours.

I did also mention diet though and I’d be remiss if I did’t spend a little more time on that topic as it relates to the common cold. Fall is a super important time to guard your intake of dairy products and sugar. Both of these things promote Dampness in the body. Dampness creates a sticky environment where pathogens can get stuck and take root. Lots of water and clear fluids (green tea is a great one, so is chicken soup!) are recommended for general health always, but especially when the common cold is more prevalent in our environment. A personal tip for making chicken soup if you feel a Wind Cold (a cold with more of a chilled feeling than a warm feeling) coming on… I saute some garlic, onions and finely minced ginger root and add it into my soup. You will feel warmed to the bone in no time! (The more ginger you add, the warmer you will feel…. adjust your recipe to your taste. I use about a 1.5 inch piece of ginger root). The goal is to promote sweating (what we call “releasing the exterior”), which helps you sweat out the cold.

As to herbs, should you be exposed to someone with the common cold or even the flu and you’re concerned about catching it, give the clinic a call. There are some outstanding herbal formulas we can give you that will boost your Qi so you don’t get sick. In fact, it’s better to have these herbs on hand as soon as you are exposed, so be sure to ask for a bottle on your next clinic visit.

Wishing you a pleasant autumn season and the very best of health!

In health and service,
Maria Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), LMT

Shen Dao Acupuncture, LLC

Lakewood, CO



Tonify Earth Element to Enhance your Energy and Support Healthy Digestion

Chinese Medicine is based upon the Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood).  Each of these elements has a corresponding organ as well as a corresponding season, which means we actualy have five seasons in Chinese Medicine:  Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Change of Seasons (AKA Late Summer).  This is the period of mid-August through the Fall Equinox.  The organ associated with this season is the Spleen and the element of Earth.

In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen has a function which is quite different from its function in Western Medicine. The Spleen has a great deal to do with digestion and works in tandem with it’s Yang paired organ, the Stomach.  One of the Spleen’s primary functions is to “make Blood.”  The Spleen does this by turning the nutrients from our food into energy (Qi), which assists in the creation of Blood (we say “Qi is the Commander of Blood”). Therefore, if we provide the Spleen with good nutrition, our Blood will be healthy, it will move correctly, and we will feel more energetic.  If we have a poor diet though, the Spleen cannot produce healthy Blood and we will feel heavy and lethargic. In Chinese Medicine, this is a condition known as Dampness and often follows a Spleen Qi Deficiency. Dampness occurs because since the Spleen is too weak to make Blood, it makes fluids which pool and collect, much like a damp bog found in nature. Such a state leads to a feeling of both physical and mental heaviness. It causes our thinking to be muddled and our concentration skills to be poor. Along with these symptoms, a Spleen Qi Deficiency can also lead to a loss of appetite, a bloated feeling after meals, and loose stools. The tongue will often look pale (this is because the Blood is weak and unable to nourish the tongue, making it pink).  It is important to note that the tongue is the only muscle we can see in the body and thus it is part of our system of diagnosis in Chinese Medicine. Observing the color of the tongue tells us now only how well the Blood is nourishing the tongue, but how well the Blood is nourishing all the muscles in the body.  This is why a patient presenting with a Spleen Qi Deficiency feels fatigued; the Blood is unable to nourish the muscles.  (If you don’t think this is a serious matter, bear in mind that your heart is a muscle).

There are things we can do to tonify the Spleen Qi, especially during the season of the Spleen.  A little bit of organic or grass fed beef is recommended.  Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and chard nourish the Spleen (these should be lightly steamed as the Spleen does not like raw).  Whole grains such as oats, millet, and brown rice nourish the Spleen.  And root vegetables that are orange or yellow in color such as winter squash, yams, and carrots are all helpful to building the Spleen Qi.

The most important foods to avoid are dairy, sugar, and foods that are cold.  As such, one of the most depleting foods for your Spleen is ice cream.  Additionally, one should avoid any processed foods, particularly those made with refined white flours and pastas.

The Spleen Qi is also depleted by overthinking and ruminating and so a calm and centered Spirit and time for mental rest are encouraged.  Meditation, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi, and Yoga are all beneficial for this purpose.

If you are interested in a Chinese nutritional consultation for your particular pattern, please call the clinic to schedule an appointment: 720.670.0098.

In health and service,

Maria Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), LMT

Owner, Shen Dao Acupuncture, LLC

9150 West Jewell Avenue

Suite 111

Lakewood, CO  80232


Heal Your Sinus Problems With Acupuncture

Many people are unaware that acupuncture treats internal disease, including chronic and acute sinusitis.  We actually get pretty incredible results treating sinus conditions and the benefits are typically felt by patients immediately.

As with all conditions in Chinese Medicine, a western diagnosis can present as various different patterns in Chinese Medicine, which is why we ask so many questions in our intake.  The way to resolve any pattern and heal the condition is to seek the root cause.  In Chinese Medicine, we do not treat the branch (the symptom) as western medicine does.  Instead, we always seek to identify and treat the root. This is how we resolve the patient’s complaint and get lasting results.

Sinus problems are essentially a problem of Dampness in Chinese Medicine.  And Dampness is a pathology that results from a weak Spleen.  The Spleen is viewed quite differently in Chinese Medicine as compared to western medicine. We say the Spleen is responsible for the Transformation and Transportation of Qi.  This means when we take in our food, that food is converted (transformed) into Qi (energy) and is then transported (circulated) to where it can be utilized in the body. 

When the Spleen is weak, however, this process is not efficient.  As I explain to patients in my less than artful way, when the Spleen is weak, instead of making good Qi (and Blood,which we say is the Mother of Qi), it makes some Qi and Blood and then it makes “gook,” or what the ancients called Dampness. Dampness then accumulates in various areas of the body and can create various pathologies.  When Dampness resides in the sinuses, it typically takes up residence in the Bladder Channel, Stomach Channel, or Gallbladder Channel.

Dampness can thicken and turn into a more dense form, which we call Phlegm, a more difficult pattern to treat, but one we still treat quite well.  When the Phlegm is clear or white, it indicates a cold condition.  More often with sinus problems, we see yellow or green Phlegm, which indicates a Hot condition of Phelgm.  As such, we seek to “clear Heat and resolve Phlegm.”

There are special acupuncture points which do this.  There are also some wonderful herbal formulas that can help clear patterns of Dampness and Phlegm in the sinuses.

After the main complaint is resolved, we always want to tonify the Spleen in order to control the production of Dampness and allow the Spleen to make quality Qi and Blood.

The Spleen is weakened by various things, including cold foods, sweets, and dairy.  The trifecta of the Spleen Qi Deficiency, therefore, is one of America’s favorite summertime treats:  ice cream.  Raw foods also deplete the Spleen, as do products made with white flour.  So salads and refined carbs should be avoided if you have a weak Spleen.

Foods that strengthen the Spleen include dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard), or root vegetables (carrots, winter squash).  These are always good to include in any healthy diet. A little bit of organic or grass fed beef is also supportive for the Spleen.

Our emotions can also deplete the organs in Chinese medicine, which can lead to poor physical health over time.  The emotion that depletes the Spleen is worry.  Meditation, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi or Yoga can help you manage your emotions.  So can acupuncture.  We have some amazing treatments to help you decrease the tendency to worry and overthink and restore you to greater emotional harmony.

The season of the Spleen is right around the corner.  In Chinese Medicine we have five seasons, the fifth season being “Change of Seasons,” which is late summer.  And so the beginning of Summer is the perfect time to start preparing for a stronger Spleen in a few weeks so we can implement better choices by mid-late August and be healthier this fall and winter when the common cold virus returns.  

And remember to schedule your regular acupuncture treatment to tonify your Spleen!  We can also recommend some herbs and supplements to help strengthen your Spleen Qi.

In health and service,

Maria Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), LMT

Shen Dao Acupuncture, LLC

9150 West Jewell Avenue, Suite 111

Lakewood, CO  80232


Blog Post: Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture now at Shen Dao Acupuncture, LLC

I am excited to be offering the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture procedure at Shen Dao.  Why am I excited?  Because Chinese Medicine offers the only cosmetic treatment that actually improves your health and holds none of the risks or dangers of surgery or chemical injections. By the way, Mei Zen translates to “beautiful person.”

The eastern view of cosmetic acupuncture is that it treats the internal causes of aging (the reason why wrinkles are appearing in certain places and why things are sagging in other places).  Acupuncture does this by increasing blood flow to the face, which increases oxygen to the tissue.  The western view of cosmetic acupuncture is that it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which begins to decline around age 30.

What is especially rewarding is that we are seeing amazing results on multiple levels with this procedure.  We are seeing the expected visible results such as lifted brow and jowl lines, reduced wrinkles and under eye puffiness.  But we are also seeing changes in internal health, most notably improved digestion and metabolism.  This is because the channels on the face are yang channels which affect both digestion and metabolic function.

What other cosmetic improvements might you see with the Mei Zen procedure?  Patients report a healthy and glowing complexion, more even skin tone, improvement in acne and rosacea, and even a decrease in age spots.  Fine lines are reduced and deeper lines have a “leveling off” and a softer appearance.  Wrinkles on the décolleté also disappear and there is an improvement in the skin’s elasticity.

“Side-benefits” apart from enhanced appearance that patients report include brighter vision, hot flashes and night sweats resolve, energy is increased, and headaches resolve.  Additionally, mild anxiety and depression resolve.  The reduction in anxiety and depression is because we are always treating the Shen, or the spirit, with acupuncture.  The Chinese classics state that all healing is reliant upon treating the Shen and that where the Shen is strong, the prognosis is good.  Thus, we are treating far more than your wrinkles with the Mei Zen procedure.

More serious conditions that the Mei Zen procedure can treat are Bells Palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and Post Stroke Sequellae.

There are three Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture procedures in all.  Most patients are interested in the facial protocol and the neck protocol.  Each of those protocols is a series of ten treatments scheduled over a five week period.  Each protocol must be completed before the next one can be begun.  Most patients elect to do the face protocol first, but there is no required order.

There is also a Mei Zen abdominal acupuncture protocol, which tightens the abdominal muscles and is also used to treat infertility, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia.  The abdominal protocol is done over a three month period, delivered twice per week for the first six weeks, and then once per week for the next six weeks.

As with plastic surgery, Botox®, Collagen injections and Restalayne, cosmetic acupuncture results are not permanent and these treatments do require some maintenance.  Frequency is reliant upon your health, constitution and lifestyle and your comfort level with your appearance.  Monthly maintenance is recommended for best results, although some patients choose to come in every other month or seasonally.  This is evaluated at the time of your consultation.

We use only Mei Zen cosmetic products, which are bioactive, made with Chinese herbs, botanical extracts and oils.  Mei Zen products contain NO parabens, formaldehyde releasers, phthalates, or sodium laurel sulphate. They are small batch artisan products, made with sustainability in mind and have a low carbon footprint.  These products are also available for sale at the clinic.

Chinese herbs and supplements are sometimes recommended to treat any underlying imbalance in the energy system, which might affect the results of your cosmetic acupuncture treatment.  General lifestyle recommendations are also made during your session, such as avoiding cold foods, sugar, alcohol, and dairy, which all cause muscles and skin to sag.  It is also advised that patients not smoke as smoking affects the health of the skin.  If you smoke and wish to quit, we can help you do that with acupuncture before you begin the Mei Zen procedures.

The Mei Zen procedures are therapeutic and relaxing.  You will  feel only a mild pinch as needles are inserted.  This is followed by a feeling of calm and bliss.  You will then  rest for about 30-40 minutes under a heat lamp on a heated table while the needles do their work.  Most patients fall asleep during this time.  We also use calming essential oils during your session to deepen your relaxation. The treatment ends with the application of Mei Zen cosmetic products and a relaxing face massage.

We offer all patients a complimentary, no-obligation,  in-person consultation to determine if you are a good candidate for cosmetic acupuncture.

Please call us for more information!

In health and service,


Maria G. Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), LMT

Shen Dao Acupuncture, LLC

9150 West Jewell Avenue

Suite 111

Lakewood, CO  80232

(720) 670-0098

Qi Gong Classes being formed in Lakewood, CO

We are excited to be offering Qi Gong classes at Shen Dao Acupuncture this fall!

Qi Gong is an ancient form of gentle movement exercises which focus on the breath. Qi Gong is often described as a moving meditation and supports good health and is also good for calming the emotions and reducing the effects of stress. Qi Gong means “working your Qi” and is a way to cultivate your own Qi, or your vital life force. Qi Gong is easy to do and can even be done by those in a wheelchair.

Please join us and bring a friend to Qi Gong in the park at the Bear Creek Greenbelt in Lakewood, located on Estes Street, just south of Yale. Please RSVP: 720.670.0098. This is an introductory class at an introductory rate of $5. To make the class run more smoothly, we ask that you please bring exact change.

We are working on securing indoor space in the Lakewood area for subsequent classes as the temperatures begin to drop here in Colorado. Please check back for updated information.

Also, please join us for our first patient education class this year on Tuesday, October 21st, at the clinic office. The class will begin promptly at 6:15 pm. Feel free to bring a friend or family member. As seating is limited, please RSVP: 720.670.0098.

In health and service,
Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT

Celebrating our new and expanded office space!

Well, the Year of the Wood Horse is certainly bringing Shen Dao Acupuncture into the energy of growth and expansion!

After only a few months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to move the clinic into a brighter and larger space.  This will enable me to serve more people in need and for this my heart is both grateful and joyful!

Shen Dao Acupuncture is now located at:

The Woodlake Center

9150 West Jewell Avenue

Suite 111

Lakewood, CO  80227

The Woodlake Center is on the southeast corner of Jewell and Garrison.  Shen Dao Acupuncture is located on the second floor of building 9150.  I look forward to seeing you soon.  The website ( and phone number (720.670.0098) remain the same.

In health and service,
Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT



Join us for Qi Gong Classes in Lakewood, CO this week!

Qi Gong translates to “work your Qi.”  It is a way for you to circulate your own energy through the channels through the process of slow and mindful physical movement.  Qi Gong is also a restorative form of exercise that allows you to cultivate and build Qi, something that promotes better health and longevity.   This idea of building Qi is an important distinction between Qi Gong and traditional western physical exercise, which expends Qi.

Qi Gong is a moving meditation that combines the breath and movement to circulate your vital energy. It is considered both a therapeutic exercise and a physical meditation.  It enhances body-mind awareness.  It fosters physical well-being and relaxation, as well as emotional balance.

In China, Qi Gong exercises are prescribed to patients for their homecare.  These exercises are simple and meant for everyone to do, even those who are restricted to a wheelchair.

Join us for an introductory Qi Gong class this Friday, March 21, 2014 at Shen Dao Acupuncture.  There will be two sessions, one at 1pm and another at 5:15pm.  This introductory class is free of charge to members of the community.

For more information, please call 720.670.0098 or email

In health and service,
Maria Mandarino, LAc, Dip Ac (NCCAOM), RMT

6565 West Jewell Avenue, Suite 4B-2

Lakewood, CO  80232






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