The Acupuncture Alternative

Energy, Enlightenment, Balance

New Service!

Posted in Meditation, Wellness

New Service At Merulli Acupuncture


Introducing a new service at Merulli Acupuncture: The Express Acupuncture Treatment. 

Enjoy an abbreviated treatment for the perfect “pick me up”.  Take a break and perk up your day with a quick and effective boost.  This wellness treatment focuses on relaxation of your body and mind so you can return to your day refreshed and calm.

Enjoy gentle acupuncture of the hands, feet and ears.  Includes Merulli Signature Scalp Massage with essential oils.

30 minute treatment. Available now at both clinics. $60. Book Now

Easy Pho

Posted in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, Nutrition & Foods

pho finished


I was introduced to my first steamy bowl of Pho while I was in massage school in the winter of 1998.  I was intrigued by the mysterious subtle spices that I couldn’t quite place.  I began experimenting with any recipe I could find and came up with this express version.  Traditional Pho is an art form, simmered over 24 hours and and doesn’t contain sake like my recipe here.  I use the sake to enhance the sweetness of the star anise.  I have tried various pre-made Pho broths in the stores but I find they are too heavy with cloves, sugar and salt.  Pho is really all about the broth and is great alone without the toppings.  This dish is very nourishing and has become a staple in my home year round.


Pho For Two

Pho Spices

Star Anise, Cinnamon Twig and Fresh Ground Coriander Seeds are warming and dispersing medicinal herbs.



Pho Broth
6-inch piece fresh ginger
2 yellow or sweet onions
3 cinnamon sticks
1 clove
5 star anise
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
1-32 oz box of low-sodium chicken, vegetable or beef broth (or bone broth would be ideal)
2 T Sake or Rum
Sesame Oil

Pho Toppings:
4 Green Onions
Fish Sauce
Mung Bean Sprouts
Fresh Hot Pepper of your choice: Serrano, Jalapeno, Thai Chili.
2 limes
Mint, Cilantro and Basil
Rice noodles
Sriracha-I love the Thai True brand Its gluten and GMO free and nicely hot!
Optional-10 prawns with shell on, or any other meat or tofu of your choice.
Fresh ground black pepper



Peel and slice the onions.  Slice the ginger into thin strips.  Roast the onions and ginger: Drizzle sesame oil into an iron wok or heavy pan and roast the onions and ginger over medium heat until charred and remove.  You may also broil them with sesame oil in the oven. Toss any pieces that get burnt.

broil onion charred

Broiling or roasting onions and ginger brings out the sultry flavors that balance the sweet anise.

Roast the spices: Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush your spices and place in your iron wok or heavy pan and dry roast over medium heat until aromatic. This will also make your home smell fragrant and welcoming.

Place the roasted ginger and onions back into your pan, with the roasted spices and add the broth and sake. Bring to a quick boil, and then simmer on low for 30-40 minutes while preparing your fresh herbs and noodles for serving.  Its a good idea to have extra broth in case you end up cooking it longer or it reduces down and you need more broth before serving.  The idea is to infuse the broth with the roasted herbs and barely reduce the liquid.  (If you were making a traditional 24 hour Pho, starting from the meat bones, then you would just keep adding water.)

simmer pho spices in broth

Spices simmering in broth. In this image I let my decoction boil down too fast and needed to add more broth. Its OK if this happens, just add more broth or water.


Boil the rice noodles. This only takes a few minutes; be careful not to overcook. If you do overcook and they are mush, its better to compost the noodles and start over.

Sauces with herbs

Fish Sauce, Tamari and Sriracha. Traditionally fish sauce is cooked in the broth.  Its fun to let your guests experience the broth alone and make their own adjustments.

Assemble your Pho toppings on a side plate.  You may either make one big platter of toppings to share or make individual plates.  Thinly slice the hot peppers and green onions. Wash and pat dry the basil, mint and cilantro, quarter the limes and arrange on side plates with the mung bean sprouts and green onions. Set out the fish sauce and Sriracha.  Offer generous amounts of fresh herbs.  The herbs are an important part of the dish, and not a simple garnish.

Strain the broth. Compost the used spices, ginger, onions and other scraps.

Return the strained broth to the stove and quickly blanch the prawns (or other meat) in the broth until done. Leaving the shells on the prawns while cooking imparts an earthy flavor to the broth. Remove the shells before serving.

Portion the noodles into the bowls and top with prawns or your other protein.

Pour the broth into the bowls and serve with the Pho toppings.

pho with accouterments




It’s spring allergy season-in full bloom!

Posted in Wellness

Luna Moth on Fruit Tree BranchMost people are surprised to learn that acupuncture works for seasonal allergies. By strengthening the body’s immune mechanism it can process the offending allergens out more efficiently. And acupuncture, unlike allergy medications does not mask symptoms or have unpleasant side effects.

While taking allergy medication to survive daily life is sometimes necessary, acupuncture treatments have been shown to provide a safe, effective alternative. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative and require a series of sessions, but most patients report they can already breathe more freely after their first treatment. Many patients have reduced or stopped taking their allergy medications with acupuncture.

See also: 10 DIY Tips For Allergies

If you would like to book an appointment or would like more information, please call: 206-388-3349.  Free consultations are available to you.


breathe it all in

10 DIY Tips For Allergies

Posted in Wellness

This year has had effected my patients’ allergies more than the last 2 years.  There seems to be a new pollen or allergen blooming every 2 weeks in the Puget Sound.

I’ve prepared a list of Do It Yourself Allergy tips to help survive the allergy season.  These will also complement your acupuncture treatments.

1. Rinse hands and face often, when pollen or dust is present.

2. Wash bedding frequently or at least the pillowcase.  You can also buy some inexpensive hand towels at Bed Bath and Beyond (they come bundled) and place a new one over your pillow each night. Make sure you wash the towels before using.  See Tip# 4.

3. Get rid of any scented  household cleaning products, personal care products, and candles. Opt for natural, chemical free ones.  Avoid using any air fresheners altogether.

4. Wash all new clothes, towels and bedding before using to remove the chemicals used in manufacturing.

5. Scalp massage-access the scalp points, and hey you feel foggy when suffering from allergies so go for it. Gently massage the whole scalp and spend extra time on any tender areas you find.

6. Acupressure:  See points I drew on the image at left.  UB2, St 3, Qiuhou, Gb1, yuyao, ub1, basically circling the orbits of the eyes, then press Li 20 and then massage GB21.  Also firm tapping or massage of GB21 (located at the top of your shoulders in the trapezius muscle) with “bongers”  (bongers are a ball on a flex stick used for massage tapotement).

7. Change air filters often if you have a heating or cooling system in your home or work place. This will save on your energy bill too. Also wipe down and clean your fans in your office or home.

8. Eucalyptus steam using pure medical grade essential oil.  Boil some water and remove from stove, add a few drops and cover head with towel while leaning over pot.  Also gives your home a refreshing uplifting scent.

9. Move the lymph fluids in the body by gently applying rolling pressure to the area around the armpits and neck and clavicle.  You can do this lightly with your hand.  The lymph system is a passive drainage and firm pressure doesn’t work as well as light.

10. Drink plenty of water to keep your organs working optimum levels.

Understanding Ebola

Posted in Research, Wellness

Most of us are quite concerned and upset about Ebola and there is a quite a bit of fear spreading along with the virus.   The Washington Department of Health has a resource page for learning about Ebola, the risk factors, and how to protect yourself.

A few things you can find on the webpage include a fact sheet on Ebola translated into 7 different languages, an EBOLA infographic to print and share, as well as a link to more on Ebola and the national situation from the CDC. Ebola webpage

Additional Information about Ebola:


Ebola virus and Marburg virus (Mayo Clinic Article)

How Ebola Emerged Out of the Jungle

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization-Information about Ebola


Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion

Sitting For Two Hours Is The Equivalent Of Smoking Two Cigarettes

Posted in Research, Wellness


We really weren’t made to sit for long periods of time. Sitting causes pain in your body and increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.  See this article by Maureen O’Hagan.

Catena, who is starting a new Gait and Posture Biomechanics lab at WSU, said that as counterintuitive as it may sound, sitting puts more stress on the spine than standing.

“Our body is configured to stand. In our evolutionary history, people didn’t sit for long periods of time. They stood or they walked,” he said. “So sitting actually takes us out of our natural position.”

In a standing position, your spine is gently curved. “That curvature basically dampens the load of your body weight pushing down due to gravity,” Catena said.


If you’d like more information about how sitting messes with  your metabolism and body fat along with tips on finding a standing desk check this out.

10 Tips For Colds And Flu

Posted in Nutrition & Foods, Wellness

Acupuncture is very helpful in preventing colds and flu and accelerating healing.  Getting treatment is most effective right when you feel it coming on or when you are near the end.  It will also help during the middle of the cold/flu but its much more powerful at the beginning or the end.  Getting a treatment right when you notice the achy shoulders, fatigue, hint of a sore throat or nasal stuffiness will help you kick it before it gets you.

The CDC describes the flu season as the fall and winter months with a peak in February.  However the flu and cold germs are present everywhere year round and getting acupuncture regularly will boost your immunity.

1.  Enjoy some healing broth with fresh grated ginger and sliced scallions.  Bone broth is an ancient East Asian Medicine recipe for healing everything from colds and flu to injuries and post surgical recovery.  Ginger and scallions will help disperse phlegm and warm your system.  If you don’t have the energy to make the broth from scratch, some of the boxed broths aren’t too bad.  I have used the Whole foods organic low sodium broth.  It may not have all the nutrients as cooking the broth down yourself, but when you are sick, it will soothe and nourish you.  Regular consumption of bone broth will enhance your metabolism and overall health.

2.  Stay away from cough drops-even the “natural” ones as the sugar inflames the throat and keeps you coughing (and buying them).  If you need something to soothe your throat, take a teaspoon of raw honey, a dash of lemon and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger as a tea in warm water.  Raw honey is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral/bacterial and an expectorant.  The ginger is warming and dispersing and will help get rid of the phlegm.  If you really think you want a cough drop, its better to get a piece of hard candy that you actually enjoy and do just that. Often when we are ill, we feel down and are in need of comfort and cough drops are an easy trap.

3.  Fresh pineapple juice contains bromelain, an immune boosting enzyme that helps break down phlegm in the body.  This provides relief especially if you have it sticking to the back of your throat.  But it must be real and fresh, not canned/frozen etc.  Please take the juice at room temperature in small amounts.

4.  Avoid sugar-it causes inflammation.

5.  Get rest.  Now is the time to take care of yourself.

6.  Take Vitamin D daily.  It will boost your immunity and your mood.

7.  Go outside often, even when the weather isn’t great to keep you in tune with the seasons.  This goes a long way to building your immunity and health.

8.  Frequently wash your hands using regular soap.  Anti-bacterial soap reduces your natural immunity.

9.  Stay home from work when you are sick.  This will allow you to get better faster and also avoid spreading the illness to others.  Going to work ill reduces the productivity of everyone else and prolongs your time being sick.

10.  Seasonal acupuncture tune-ups will keep your immune system running smoothly and prevent illness.

Tired of getting sick during the winter months?  To find out how acupuncture can help you,  contact either the Seattle or Anacortes clinic or schedule online.

Group Health PPO Network Expansion Starts Jan 1, 2014.

Posted in Wellness

Merulli Acupuncture is pleased to announce the addition of Group Health PPO plans to the Seattle Clinic.  Access PPO, Options PPO starting Jan. 1, 2014, expands access to contracted providers and offers enhanced benefits when members use providers within designated care systems.

Questions about coverage? Please call my office 206-388-3349; I’m happy to check if your plan has coverage for acupuncture.

Schedule Online

Unwelcome GMO Wheat Plant Found On Farm

Posted in Nutrition & Foods, Research, Wellness

We need to stop GMO all over the world.  I don’t believe you can isolate the location of a GMO or any crop even if you wanted to due to wind, rain and pollination. GMO wheat plants were found on an Oregon farmer’s land that he did not plant.  Many countries oppose GMO crops.  I believe if we allow GMO farming in our country, it will hurt our economy.

Read this article by Agriculture Correspondent Dan Charles of NPR:


Genetically modified wheat has been discovered growing in a field in Oregon. GMO wheat is not approved for sale in the U.S. Above, a wheat field in Arkansas.

Genetically modified wheat has been discovered growing in a field in Oregon. GMO wheat is not approved for sale in the U.S. Above, a wheat field in Arkansas.

Danny Johnston/AP

A farmer in Oregon has found some genetically engineered wheat growing on his land. It’s an unwelcome surprise, because this type of wheat has never been approved for commercial planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s , trying to find out how this wheat got there. The USDA says there’s no risk to public health, but wheat are worried about how their customers in Asia and Europe will react.

In fact, worry about export markets is the main reason why genetically engineered wheat isn’t on the market in the first place.

The biotech company Monsanto did create varieties of wheat that tolerate the weedkiller glyphosate, or Roundup — just as it created “Roundup Ready” corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. It also carried out field trials of this wheat in 16 different states.

Read more…



Asparagus Lowers Blood Pressure-Research Shows

Posted in Nutrition & Foods, Research

Asparagus lowers blood pressure.  Modern research supports the wisdom of ancient Chinese Medicine.  To encourage you to take advantage of the seasonal bounty, I’ve included a quick and easy recipe below.

Asparagus Reduces High Blood Pressure – New Discovery

13 May 2013

By Health CMI News

New research concludes that dietary intake of asparagus lowers blood pressure. The researchers were able to isolate an active compound found in asparagus that was found to have an antihypertensive effect. An ACE inhibitor was purified and isolated from asparagus. ACE inhibitors, often concentrated into pharmaceutical medications for the treatment of hypertension, cause dilation of the blood vessels which results in lower blood pressure. The researchers note that the ACE inhibitor in asparagus exerts its medicinal effect in the kidneys and that this may preserve the normal function of the kidneys and prevent hypertension.

In a related discovery by the same research team, asparagus intake significantly raised the creatinine clearance rate. This is the rate at which blood plasma is cleared of creatinine and is an indicator of overall kidney health. The research suggests that asparagus has an overall effect of benefitting the kidneys and lowering blood pressure for cases of hypertension. The study was published in the prestigious Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The research builds on a long history of dietetics information demonstrating that deep green colored foods have antihypertensive effects. This concept has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Five Element theory within this system notes that deep green foods often have antihypertensive effects, including green asparagus as noted in this new study.

An emerging trend of noting the relationship between the color of food and its medicinal effects exists in biomedicine. Although an ancient concept within Traditional Chinese Medicine, modern biomedical research now supports many aspects of Chinese Medicine Five Element food color theory. A plethora of new research demonstrates that the yellow-orange coloring from betacarotene found in many foods is indicative of medicinal benefits. Resveratrol, a red-brown coloring found in many foods such as red wine and grapes, has also been linked to important health benefits. These findings coalesce ancient wisdom with modern scientific analysis.

The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi) presents Chinese Medicine dietetics and Five Element food theory in detail. HealthCMi live webinars and anytime online courses for acupuncture continuing education CEUs feature a combination of Chinese Medicine dietetics theories with modern biomedical analyses. The professors from HealthCMi present common recipes to resolve specific medical ailments and general health tips on topics such as weight loss, cholesterol reduction, headache elimination, fertility enhancement and the control of high blood pressure with simple recipes and modest changes to dietary intake. Learn more at HealthCMi about these online courses featuring Chinese Medicine dietetics.

Matsuda, Sanae, and Yasuo Aoyagi. “Green Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) Prevented Hypertension by an Inhibitory Effect on Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Activity in the Kidney of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2013).


Easy Asparagus Recipe:

Asparagus is very detoxifying and helps to rid the body of stagnant water.  Fresh asparagus is in peak season for flavor and nutrients in the Pacific Northwest right now.

Easy Asparagus Recipe

Gluten and Dairy free
1-2 Pounds Of Fresh Asparagus
2 T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Steam asparagus until tender. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice for a savory treat.

Feeling puffy? Save the steaming water and drink it for additional detoxification. Your body will thank you for it.