Group Health PPO and Kaiser Permanente – Providers

Shannon Freeman, LAC

Shannon Freeman, EAMP, Dipl. AC (NCCAOM) (r) and Satori Hanson, LMP, are providers for Group Health PPO/Kaiser Permanente.  This insurance program includes the following plans accepted by our office:

  • Access PPO
  • GHO Federal
  • Omni PPO
  • Options PPO
  • Overlake Employees

Satori Hanson, LMP

Our office is working on adding more providers to the network.  If you have any questions regarding your plan and benefits, please call our office and speak to Tammy at 360-366-4216.  She is available to do benefit searches for our patients.  You may schedule your GHPPO acupuncture and massage treatments online at

11th Annual Holiday Gift Certificate Sale On Now!

A Better Way Massage & Acupuncture Holiday Gift Certificate Sale11th Annual Holiday Gift Certificate Bazaar Starts Now (Sale ends November 29)

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Holiday Gift Certificates
Purchase Online Now!
30 Minute Holiday Massage $42
60 Minute Holiday Massage $63
This year we have decided to support the community by sharing and giving. Bring in an unwrapped children’s gift, and bring your one hour massage gift certificate price down to $59. Price reduction only applied to one hour treatments. Gifts will be given to Toys for Tots. No limit.
Tammy, our office manager, is in the office Monday-Thursday, 7:30am-12noon. Please organize with Tammy to ensure you get the price reduced gift certificates.
90 Minute Holiday Massage $80
Please read the disclaimers. So Important!
No cash refund or not redeemable for cash. Gift certificates are non-transferable and are not for re-sale. 90 and 60 minute gift certificates can not be divided into multiple 30 minute treatments. There are 30 and 90 minute treatments available if you desire to purchase and schedule. Certificate redemption value may be applied to full price of another service. No replacement for lost or stolen gift certificates. Certificates never expire; listed date is for filing system only. 360-366-4216 12 Bellwether Way, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA 98225

Reduce Inflammation – Reduce Pain – Ferndale YMCA

Anti-Inflammatory-Food-PyramidThank you to all who attended the YMCA – Ferndale Campus – Reduce Inflammation -Reduce Pain Meeting.  

Shannon Freeman, L.Ac., EAMP and Jamie Mulligan, LMP enjoyed sharing information from our experience and training.

Per the request of those who attended, below is contact information and websites where you can get more details in the information shared at the meeting.

Websites that were mentioned:

Schedule Massage at A Better Way

Schedule Acupuncture at A Better Way

Have us check your insurance benefits

Medicare/Medicaid treatments reduced rates – give us a call for more information – 360-366-4216

Anti-Inflammation Food Pyramid – Dr. Weil

Golden Milk – Dr. Weil

Fish oil and Omega 3

A Better Way Massage & Acupuncture Golden Milk Recipe:

anti-inflammation-foodsGolden Milk
1 1/2 cups milk , or almond milk or any milk you prefer
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp tumeric or more as desired
1tbsp liquid honey (may subsitute with stevia)
1/16 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
Heat all ingredients in a small pot.
Bring to a boil.
Remove and pour into tall coffee thermos.
Close top on thermos and shake well.
It will be very hot so let sit with lid off.
Pour a cup into mug and drink as it cools.
This is good both morning and night.
It takes away any sign of pain from arthritis to gout to fuzzy thinking.
You may not like the taste right away but you can adjust spicing and sweetness to your own palate.
It helps with sleep as well because of the boiled milk. Cheers.


12 Benefits of Qi Gong

Evidence demonstrates that qigong may be an effect adjunct in the treatment of many illnesses including cancer and heart disease. Learn about the remarkable 12 benefits of qigong, here:

1. Well-being and improved health. Qigong emphasizes the whole body, whole system health. While it is true that qigong will often cure specific ills, this is not the primary reason for practice. It is not only a matter of adding years to your life, but life to your years.

2. Clear and tranquil mind. When the mind is at peace, the whole universe seems at peace. World peace begins with you; it is your responsibility to find a peaceful heart and mind. Then you can heal and transform others just through your presence. If you have a tranquil mind, you will make better decisions and have the skill to know when act and when to be still.

Foods that fight inflammation3. Deeper, more restorative sleep. Qigong will help you find the deep relaxation and mental quiet necessary for sleep.

4. Increased energy, including sexual vitality and fertility. Qigong people have more energy; it can reverse energy and restore youthfulness.

5. Comfortable warmth. Qigong is great for cold hands and feet. Circulation improves, and the body generates more internal warmth when it is cold.

6. Clear skin. The skin, like the intestines, is an organ of elimination. According to Chinese medicine, as your qigong improves, your body eliminates toxins, and the skin becomes clear.

7. Happy attitude. There is an old Tibetan saying, “You can tell a Yogi by his or her laugh.” Correct and moderate qigong practice usually creates an optimistic and joyous disposition.

8. More efficient metabolism. Digestion improves, and hair and nails grow more quickly.

9. Greater physiological control. This means that aspects of the body that were imbalanced or out of control begin to normalize, for example, breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels, and states of chronic inflammation or depletion.

10. Bright eyes. The qigong master’s eyes are said to glow in the dark, like a cat’s. The eyes also appear bright because the spirit and soul are luminous and the heart is open.

11. Intuition and creativity. Intuition and creativity generate each other and come from the same source, an awakened brain and being, an ability to think with the gut, to feel with the mind.

12. Spiritual effects. Advancement in qigong is often accompanied by a variety of spiritual experiences. For example, synchronicity, meaningful coincidences, become more common. When the qi is abundant, clear, and flowing, the senses perceive and are permeated by a sweetness.

Adapted from The Essential Qigong Training Course, by Ken Cohen (Sounds True, 2005). Copyright (c) 2005 by Ken Cohen. Reprinted by permission of Sounds True.
Adapted from The Essential Qigong Training Course, by Ken Cohen (Sounds True, 2005).


Massage & Addiction

Written by Clare La Plante, March 1, 2013, published on

When Brendan C., a Chicago-based marathon runner and coach and recovering alcoholic with 20 years of sobriety under his belt, went for a recent massage with his regular therapist, the muscles in his calves and lower back were intractable. His therapist asked him what was going on. Brendan said he had no idea.

The therapist continued working on him. As she did, Brendan began to feel profoundly sad. He realized he was finally feeling the stress fall-out of the recent break-up of a long-time relationship. Only then did his muscles begin to release. “That’s the thing with addicts,” he says, wryly. “We don’t always know what’s going on with us.”

This emotional disassociation can often be a double whammy for those struggling with addictions. “We live in a culture that doesn’t do a good job teaching anyone how to relax, both physically and mentally,” says Jennifer Broadwell, DOM, ADS, an acupuncturist and director of the Wellness Spot, an integrative health center affiliated with the Florida House Experience, a rehab facility based in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

However, this could be changing. More and more, centers such as the Wellness Spot offer a host of non-talk therapies, including massage, as part of their recovery programs. In fact, massage is one of the most popular offerings at the Wellness Spot, with the six therapists doing approximately 200 massages a week.

The center also offers acupuncture, chiropractic services, yoga, meditation and nutritional counseling. Through all of these modalities, but especially massage, “Clients can now feel what it’s like to be present in their own bodies,” says Broadwell.

The Long Road

Recovery is a process, and a difficult one. “Often, the client cannot even articulate what is going on,” Broadwell says. “Because massage is not a talk therapy, it can meet them wherever they are, even if they don’t have the skills to tell us.”

Maureen Schwehr, NMD, a naturopathic physician and craniosacral instructor who works at the integrative clinic at Sierra Tucson, an in-patient rehab facility near Tucson, Arizona, says bodywork offerings are invaluable to the rehab clients, most all of whom choose to participate in them.The massage offerings at Sierra Tucson include Swedish massage, myofascial release, zero balancing, shiatsu, SomatoEmotional Release, and Chi Nei Tsang, a type of Chinese abdomen massage.

Schwehr says that most conventional therapy for recovery focuses on the mind. Once you start considering a mind/body/spirit model, she explains, you have more treatment options. She thinks of the connection this way: “The spirit is who we really are. Our mind is our thinking brain, and our body houses this. If you’re an addict, you often have to ignore your body, because you are, in essence, hurting your ‘house.’” Addicts often continue their destructive behavior by not checking in with their ‘home,’ or their body, she says.

Of course, destructive addictive behavior can have ramifications far beyond the individual addict. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addictions impact nearly all American families in some way. Alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances alone cost more than half a trillion dollars a year, in everything from health care costs to crime to accidents to special services in education.

The jury is still out on what causes addiction—most experts say it’s a combination of physiological susceptibility and environment. However, nearly everyone agrees that recovery is not about simple willpower. As one well-known Alcoholics Anonymous aphorism says, “We’re sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”

Gabor Mate, M.D., a physician who worked with addicts in the drug-infested Downtown Eastside of Vancouver for years and author of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost: Close encounters with addiction, says that addiction seems designed to help users escape pain. “All addictions serve as distractions at the very least,” he says.

Nearly any behavior can be addictive—even seemingly benign activities such as shopping, eating and sex. Mate says it really doesn’t matter what the “drug” of choice is—all addictions involve the same brain circuits and brain chemicals. The NIDA says that when addicts get a hit of their drug of choice, dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitter—floods their brain’s reward system.

This may be why massage, which has been proven to increase dopamine and serotonin, and decrease cortisol, can help those in recovery. Schwehr says this piece is crucial, especially in the early stages of withdrawal when dopamine often drops significantly. “This can be a very uncomfortable time,” she says.

Other physiological and emotional issues in recovery include pain, agitation, anxiety and sleep problems. Massage—nearly any kind of massage—also helps with all of these, says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the University of Miami’s School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute, which studies massage. “The body releases fewer stress hormones when being massaged,” Field says. Stress hormones, including cortisol, weaken the immune system and can lead to increased pain.“ This becomes, a vicious cycle,” Field says, “one that massage can help break.”

Also, in a study published in 2002, fibromyalgia patients, after receiving massage twice weekly for fi ve weeks, slept and felt better. Levels of neurotransmitter substance P—which your body emits when you are sleep deprived—decreased. “We found a direct relationship,” says Field.

Massage also helps with overall relaxation by stimulating pressure receptors, which enhance vagal activity. Since the vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves in the brain, this decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases stress hormones, according to Field. “You will sleep better, be less anxious,” says Field. “It’s a whole chemical reaction that is happening.”

Even those who are going through withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine or opiods relaxed more deeply with a simple chair massage than with 20-minute “relaxation sessions,” where participants sat in a quiet room and focused on their breathing. And those who received the massage sustained the relaxation benefits for 24 hours.

On a more superficial level, clients often just feel better after a massage, says Broadwell. “We’re able to show them, ‘This is what relaxation feels like,” she says. “Someone puts healing hands on you, and suddenly you become aware,” Mate says. “Often people say, ‘I never knew I was that sad/happy.’” To this end, massage therapists may have an advantage over medical doctors like him when working with this clientele, says Mate.

“Massage therapists get the stress/disease connection more than doctors do,” he says. “They actually can feel when a client is holding some tension. Physicians don’t put their hands on people like that.”

In Mate’s experience, most of the addicts he worked with—if not all—suffered early life trauma. In fact, he sees childhood trauma and emotional loss as the template for addictions. Many had boundaries violated. Therefore, tread carefully. Ground yourself first. “Make sure what you’re doing is to help them—not to be a hero, or to save anyone,” he says. If a client relapses, he says, and you get angry with them, then you are in a sense violating their boundaries. “Whatever happens to them, don’t take it personally,” Mate adds.

Diane Ansel, a Chicago-based massage therapist, says consider yourself a guide more than anything. “You work on them, and let it go. It’s up to them to turn it around,” she explains.

What you can offer, she says, is simple self-care techniques for between sessions. Ansel says she often takes inspiration in a long-told story of Gandhi. “I love the story of a mother who came to Gandhi and asked him to tell her child not to eat sugar,” she says. “Gandhi said come back next week. When they returned, Gandhi simply told the child, ‘Stop eating sugar.’ When the mother asked, why did they have to go and return for that? He replied, ‘I hadn’t given up sugar yet.’”

Mate says we can’t all wait until we’re perfect in order to help others. “To the extent that you haven’t dealt with your own stuff—or glimpsed your own possibilities—for you can only take people as far as you can go yourself. But no one ever finishes, so you don’t have to wait, just be aware. It takes a lot of self-awareness,” he says.

He also says that, in essence, all addictions are about self-soothing. Therefore, giving them a pathway with which they can connect to their bodies can be enormously empowering. Broadwell sees this with the clients at her wellness center all the time.

The clients start to realize, she says, that the “medicine” is inside of them. “This is a great paradigm shift,” she explains. First, she sees the effects of massage on the faces of the clients. “And then we hear it everyday in patient feedback: That the chronic pain is starting to improve, that they can now sleep with less or no medication,” she adds.

Schwehr says that one of her clients told her that the massage changed her experience at the rehab facility by “100 percent.” Another client told her that the bodywork she had done allowed her to feel connected to her body in a way she had never felt before.

Massage can even help with some basic rewiring of our brains, knowing what we know now about its neuroplasticity. Often, says Mate, early touch experiences of those who struggle with addiction have been “the opposite of healing,” which is partly why he advocates compassionate treatment for addicts rather than tough love. “[With massage therapy,] when they are being touched, it is not to give someone else pleasure, but to put themselves in touch with themselves,” he says. “If there’s some brain circuit that says to be touched is to be hurt,” Mate adds, “imagine being touched not to be hurt, but to be helped.”

Brendan C. experiences this rewiring, one day at a time. Twenty years sober, he says he’s still learning every day how to get in touch with his body and his feelings. Brendan says that many people with addictive personalities do not feel comfortable touching or being touched, himself included. “Part of the reason I drank,” he says, “was to avoid having intimate contact with those around me—my parents, children, wife.”

However, being willing to open up and to trust has made a world of difference. “Massage builds trust. Perhaps for the first time, the body can be completely relaxed, receptive, without the fear that the other person is going to hurt you,” he says.

This is what Schwehr sees all the time at the clinic, she says. “When someone has an opportunity to be touched, to have therapeutic work on their body, it can bring the [recovery] work home to a much deeper level,” she believes. “It can help connect the body to the emotions. I once read that emotions are our body’s way of telling us how it feels about what’s going on. When you bring someone back to their body, it’s like bringing them home.”

Tips for Working With Those in Recovery

According to Maureen Schwehr, NMD, a naturopathic physician and craniosacral instructor who works at the integrative clinic at Sierra Tucson, an in-patient rehab facility near Tucson, Arizona, these tips for massage therapists working with those in recovery:

1. Be neutral and don’t have an agenda about what you want out of the session. let the client’s needs guide you.

2. Be really clear about your professional boundaries. “People with addictions can be good at crossing boundaries, so therapists have to be really clear on theirs,” she says. Don’t bring your own personal stuff into the sessions. Work at a very professional level.

3. Be clear about what population you are willing to work with. Don’t take on clients beyond your capabilities. At different stages of recovery, clients may need different types of work. It’s not one-size-fits-all. “Be OK with referring out if it seems that what’s going on is more complex than you are willing to handle,” she encourages.

4. Trust Yourself

Labor Pains

written by Clare La Plante, May 15, 2015

Flight attendant Tina Costanzo of Kennedy Township, Pennsylvania, was working a routine flight from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis serving drinks and snacks to passengers when the plane ran into “clear turbulence”—swirling air masses that appear without visual cues such as clouds—and dropped suddenly and sharply. Gravity pulled Costanzo into the air.

She landed in a twisted position.

“I was trying to make sure the passengers were OK. I was cleaning up the mess,” she says of her first reaction. “It wasn’t until later in the evening, back in my hotel, that I realized that my back was injured.” At first, she treated the pain like any other ache from her job: She iced the sore area and took Ibuprofen. The next morning, however, she realized her injury was significant enough to prevent her from getting back on the plane.

She filed a workers’ compensation claim. After seeing a company-approved doctor who diagnosed a back sprain, she did the physical therapy prescribed. After that, she sought her own treatment, which was primarily massage therapy with local therapist Renee Swasey, owner of Allegheny Muscle Therapy & Massage, in Imperial, Pennsylvania. For the first time since she was injured, Costanzo found significant relief from her pain.

Labor Pains – Healing from on the job injuries with Acupuncture and Massage

Who Gets Hurt and Why

According to 2013 data collected by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness requiring days away from work was approximately 109 cases per 10,000 full-time employees. Overexertion accounted for roughly 35 percent of all cases, with slips, falls and trips 25 percent, and musculoskeletal disorders 33 percent of all injury and illness cases. On average, workers with musculoskeletal disorders required a median of 11 days away from work, compared to eight days for other types of injuries. Construction, manufacturing and health care employees are among the top categories of workers who get injured on the job, as well as office workers.

“What has changed over the years is sitting at the computer,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami. In fact, a survey by TRI of University of Miami School of Medicine employees showed neck, back and carpal tunnel syndrome among the most common workplace injuries. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, librarians, who were the most sedentary of the employees surveyed, reported the highest levels of pain.

Also, Beth Burgan, assistant professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University, in Bloomington, Minnesota, often reminds people: “We don’t really listen to our bodies, no matter what we’re doing, whether that’s loading UPS trucks or sitting at desks. We don’t have environments that are conducive to maintaining health. We have poor body mechanics. We don’t have a lot of personal self care education.”

How Massage Can Help

Conventional medicine, such as surgery, medications and physical therapy, may not entirely address the complex physical, emotional and social aspects of workplace injuries, like loss of wages, feeling like you’re no longer competent or good at what you do and, in many instances, the fear of getting injured again. Additionally, many workers need to be educated about ergonomics and self-care.

Enter massage therapy.

The physical. According to Field, one reason that massage therapy plays such an important role in the treatment of workplace injuries is because more and more studies are showing massage can help with the commonly injured areas—like the aforementioned neck, back and carpal tunnel. Also, massage therapy is effective in relieving some of the common side effects of on-the-job injuries, including anxiety, depression and disrupted sleep, for example.

Field points out that massage also decreases substance P, which is a pain transmitter, and can impact sleep quality. In addition, a 2012 study by Crane shows that massage can actually help on a cellular level as well, by reducing inflammation (through production of inflammatory cytokins) and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis—or forming new mitochondria—in exercisedamaged muscle, which may make it a better candidate for muscle injuries than anti-inflammatory medications. These benefits resonate with Costanzo, who said that in her experience, doctors often wanted to just give her medication for her pain. “This didn’t solve the problem,” she says.

Massage therapy might also have an advantage for injured workers in that therapists often spend more time with clients than other health practitioners, and often consider the body more holistically. “We have to treat the whole [system], and not just isolated symptoms,” says Sebastopol, California-based massage therapist Tim Holt. “If I work on a client with forearm or hand issues, I am working the entire spine.” In fact, he says, where the client feels pain is often not the problem area.

Burgan recently treated a man at her school’s clinic, a self-employed welder who was largely unfamiliar with massage therapy and was about to be operated on for carpal tunnel syndrome. “I asked him, ‘What do you do every day?’” she recalls. “He described his routine of opening and shutting clamps.” They did myofascial work on his wrist area to relieve the symptoms of overuse he was experiencing, and the clinic’s chiropractor adjusted his wrist and elbow. The chiropractor gave him tips on what he could do differently at work, and the clinic offered him weekly massage. In the end, he was able to postpone surgery.

The emotional. Massage therapy can also help with the emotional fallout of a workplace injury. A 2013 study by Lin suggests that anxiety can be one of the greatest hindrances to full recovery after job injuries. According to Mark Goulston, MD, author of PTSD for Dummies, getting injured on the job can be traumatic because you often disrupt what he calls the “Three Cs”: competency, confidence and control. “You hum along. Then something throws you for a loop,” he says. “This can be traumatic to our system.”

Remember, too, that along with workplace injury comes the potential for unemployment—at least for a little while. Clients themselves often underestimate the significance of unemployment, and the impact being gone from work will have on their well-being. According to Daniel Gouws, MD and a Vancouver-based occupational health physician, this may be one of the most overlooked factors. “When people are [seriously] injured on the job, they basically become unemployed,” he says. Unemployment, regardless of injury or vocational field, can lead to co-morbidity factors, including depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem, he adds. Injured workers have—sometimes overnight—lost their structure, support and wages. For many people, work serves as a social forum, a surrogate family system, of sorts.

Re-educating the Client

Part of helping these clients deal with injury, both physically and emotionally, is helping them learn new ways to decrease the potential of reinjury. In other words, helping these clients better understand the importance of self-care. You might, for example, educate clients on better ways to move or sit, depending on the demands of their workplace. Holt encouraged one of his clients who’s an architect to consider using a standing desk, which proved helpful in relieving this client’s low back pain. For office workers who spend a great deal of time at a computer, consider discussing the benefits of ergonomic seating and keyboards. “At least you can point your clients to something that can help them, whether a different keyboard design, wrist support or chair,” says Holt. “Sometimes, it’s an easy fix.”

Additionally, you can suggest self-care exercises to supplement the benefits of getting regular massage. A study by Furlan suggests that massage best benefits lower back pain if accompanied by exercises and education. Holt, for example, gives his clients “homework” that includes stretches, or icing or heat instructions. For some clients, he follows up with an email to check on how they’re doing with self-care, and what’s working and what’s not. “You have to get on a protocol of self-care, or you won’t recover,” he says. In the TRI studies on neck and carpal tunnel pain, Field included simple self-massage techniques for participants to perform in between weekly massage sessions, which can be very effective when combined with regular massage.

Massage therapists should also be willing to be part of a larger referral network. “I send clients to osteopaths, chiropractors, yoga teachers and orthopedic surgeons,” says Holt. He refers only to people he knows, has spoken with or come highly recommended.

Ultimately, when your clients leave your office, you want them to feel confident returning to their jobs, with clear ideas for self-care at work and at home—all of which can be a paradigm shift for some people. “We have a whole group of people being validated by the type of touch that massage therapists provide,” says Burgan. “This [validation] allows them to be the author of their own bodies.”

As for Costanzo, she now receives regular massage, which she considers essential to helping her prevent injury. She’s seeing a shift elsewhere as well. Recently, she went to her doctor for a minor, non work related injury. The doctor said to her: “There’s nothing I can do for you but give you an anti inflammatory, but if you know of a good massage therapist, I recommend you go do that.”