Heritage named Best of Durham in Acupuncture!

best of durham 2024 heritage acupuncture

Heritage Acupuncture made the list of Best of Durham for 2024, and I’d like to thank each and every one of you who voted! I love the idea of this list as it’s a great way to showcase local businesses. One of the first things I noticed about Durham upon arrival in 2014 is the respect for small businesses. Helping community businesses find recognition is not only good for owners, it also helps people find the services they need.

Acupuncture has always been by nature a small business. While there are hospital staff practitioners, acupuncturists in China typically work alone, perhaps with an assistant or two. Regardless of the business model, Chinese medicine lends itself to personalized care and customized treatments. We want to know about your pain, your digestion and your emotional state. Chinese medicine practitioners are trained to take detailed histories and watch for signs and symptoms that most people never notice about themselves. Is the patient pale? Are their hands and feet cold? Does the cold exist just in fingertips or extend to the forearm? Do they dream? Is their personality dominant in one emotional state? All these symptoms signify specific issues and inform the treatment.

Chinese medicine also can fill multiple needs. One of the most challenging aspects of my career has been informing people all this medicine is capable of. In this culture, we’re not accustomed to a single medical professional who can assist us with contagious illness, musculoskeletal pain, organ issues and emotional conditions. While Chinese medicine excels in acute and chronic conditions, acupuncturists do recommend regular maintenance, as enhancing your health regularly can optimize longevity and vitality. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get ill, but people who receive regular care are more resilient and less affected by accidents and illnesses.

We’re all born with raw material, meaning DNA inherited from parents and ancestors. Life can certainly throw some curve balls,but if we focus on the things we can control — diet, exercise, self-maintenance and rest — we can make every day more comfortable and enjoyable. It takes time and commitment to get there, but nothing is more important than our health and vitality. The sooner you start the more you can save in your personal health bank. As the Chinese sages say, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

It’s easy to practice a system you believe in, that you’ve seen work countless times personally and professionally. To me, this seems less like a business and more like a discipline and belief system. If I can do anything to share the practical brilliance of Chinese medicine that itself is the reward.

Not All Pain is the Same

Image by PeopleImages

What Your Body is Trying To Tell You When it Hurts

Being in pain is not unlike being hangry  (hungry + angry)  — you’re not in the mood to reason and you just want it to stop. While that’s understandable. there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to pain. And the more you know, the less you have to worry about the cause or severity of your pain.

Muscular tension or spasming is responsible for most of the pain people experience. Muscles respond to your activities or lack thereof. If your daily routine includes repetitive movements, long-term sitting or sports, muscle tissue will respond with visceral feedback.

Pain that comes on suddenly feeling tight, constricted or crampy is typically muscular. Muscles literally need to be fed and watered to stay relaxed and pain-free. Along with organs and skin, blood nourishes muscle tissue, rendering it supple and relaxed. A tense muscle literally feels knotty or stringy under your fingers, whereas a relaxed muscle feels soft and flexible.

Sitting at a desk all day makes the muscles in your gluteal and hip area tense, which often sends discomfort up the chain to the low back. You also may feel sitting-related pain on your hamstrings or even hip joint. As many gluteal muscles attach at the hip joint, tight glutes tug on the hips.

A spasming muscle involuntarily and forcefully contracts, causing mild discomfort to intense pain. Spasms are typically harmless and could indicate overuse, dehydration, lack of nutrients and, in some cases, underlying medical conditions. Some medications, such as statins, are associated with muscle spasms.

Conversely, muscular pain or cramping may be due to overuse. Say you ran a marathon yesterday on a hot day and went straight to bed without properly hydrating. If you wake up at night with leg cramps, that’s just your muscles saying they need more fluid as dehydration can decrease blood volume. Leg cramping at night can point to many conditions, so if symptoms persist it’s best to contact your physician.

If your pain is associated with swelling then most likely there’s more involved than just a tight muscle. Swelling can indicate a strain, tear or even a fracture.  Only a medical professional can determine exactly which type of injury is involved. Sometimes orthopedic exams can yield enough information to rule out fractures. But you may need an X-ray or MRI to determine the extent of your injury. Both tendons and ligaments can tear. If you’ve torn these tissues, the next step is to determine the extent of the tear. Less severe tears can heal on their own while severe tears or ruptures may require surgery.

If a nerve is impinged or injured, you may feel pain but it’s often different than muscular pain. Nerve-related pain can feel stabbing, shooting or burning. Some nerve issues don’t manifest in any pain. Neuropathy may present as numbness or tingling in the affected area. Neuropathy has many causes, including diabetes, bulging discs and muscular issues. If you’ve ever felt tingling down the back of your leg after long-term sitting, this may simply be gluteal muscles squeezing your sciatic nerve. The same nerve can be affected by a bulging or ruptured disc.

How can acupuncture help? If you’re experiencing neuropathy, most acupuncturists are trained to distinguish between a muscular vs. internal issue. It may not be possible to pin point the exact internal cause  — whether it’s diabetes, multiple sclerosis or other conditions — but experienced providers can identify enough symptoms to know how to refer.

If muscular tension or spasming is causing your pain — which is far and away the most common cause of back pain — acupuncture treatments can provide substantial and, in many cases, immediate relief.

When swelling is part of your pain picture, acupuncture also excels at not only at reducing swelling, but also guiding healing nutrients to an injury site. Whether you have a sprain, strain, tear or fracture, with acupuncture  you’ll heal more quickly, with less pain and less scar tissue.

You can’t always diagnose your own injuries, but knowing what’s behind certain symptoms can remove the fear factor. When you’re in pain just remember it doesn’t always mean drugs or surgery.  Even if you do need biomedical intervention, acupuncture can dramatically improve your recovery in every stage of the healing process.


Announcing Purigenex Collagen Facial

If you think all collagen masks are the same, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn about the medical and cosmetic breakthrough that is Purigenex.  This one-of-a-kind mask was formulated in Korean labs to heal burn wounds by regenerating skin cells.

At Heritage Acupuncture, we just added the Purigenex Collagen Facial to our skincare menu. The mask also may be combined with such skin care services as Microneedling, Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation or Facial Rejuvenation Massage.

In esthetic treatments, this premier collagen supports and builds connective tissue integrity to rejuvenate skin weakened by aging, sun damage and acne. Collagen of this type has never before been offered in transdermal cosmetic preparations.

Purigenex humanely harvests collagen from live porcine sources  as pigs are the closest DNA match to humans.  Scientists also removed the end strands or telepeptides of the collagen molecule to make it more absorbent and less likely to cause allergies. To ensure absorption, Purigenex’s bio-active collagen is negatively ionized and refrigerated to maintain vitality. When applied to positively charged skin, this interaction propels collagen into the dermis. 

This mask not only deeply revives collagen, but also detoxifies skin and hydrates while reducing inflammation and discoloration. This facial is good for any skin type. With no down-time, it’s the perfect prep for special events and celebrations.

Check out this and other facials on our Web site:

Skin Care

Chinese Herbalism Part II: Medicine Made for You

Anyone who has ever owned a home knows you need more in your toolbox than a screwdriver. You might need a broom, drill or drywall to maintain your home. Your body is even more complex, and it’ll take a full toolbox to meet its needs and challenges throughout your life.

By now you’re accustomed to the treatment options presented by your doctor, which are typically medication, physical therapy or surgery. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has a unique set of modalities to treat health conditions. Most people are familiar with acupuncture and related physical modalities (guasha, cupping, moxa). In many cases, especially for more musculoskeletal and pain conditions, acupuncture is the primary tool. But for more chronic, internal or complex conditions, your acupuncturist will prescribe Chinese herbal medicine.

Chinese herbs consist primarily of plant, mineral and resin sources. Many are common household foods and spices (fennel, clove, ginger, cardamom, watermelon, etc.). It’s important to procure herbs from a trained and licensed acupuncturist to guarantee safety and authenticity. Herbs imported from China or Taiwan must be FDA-approved and adhere to strict safety guidelines. Licensed acupuncturists use professional herbal products  with extensive testing and quality control. Please see Chinese Herbs: Fact and Fiction on the Heritage blog for more information on safety issues. (https://heritageacupuncture.com/chinese-herbs-fact-and-fiction/).

The 300-plus single herbs in the Chinese materia medica are used to create formulas or classical herbal combinations for specific conditions. Many formula compositions have existed for thousands of years. At Heritage Acupuncture, we practice a classical form of Chinese herbalism that originated in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.).  Your specific prescription is based on not only the chief complaint, but other accompanying signs and symptoms, overall health and digestive function and the progression of your illness. Formulas are completely customized according to your unique presentation. There are no “one-size-fits-all” remedies in Chinese medicine.

For example, if three people seek treatment for asthma, each might receive a different herbal formula. One person may be experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue. The second may be coughing up thick phlegm and the third may have chronic post nasal drip and allergy symptoms. Each person needs a different herbal remedy and acupuncture point combination.

Even one herb can have different forms that treat precise variations on symptoms. For example, sheng jiang, or fresh ginger, might be included in a formula to treat an acute cough. With a chronic cough, your acupuncturist may change the ginger to pao jiang, a blast-fried ginger recommended for long-term lung conditions. If the cough has mostly healed and you’re left with general weakness, then gan jiang or dried ginger is the best fit. It takes years of training and practice to know the variations and when to use them.

As a patient, you can be assured that your symptoms and overall health matter to a practitioner of Chinese medicine. There’s virtually no way to prescribe an herbal formula unless the provider understands your condition in detail.

If you’re looking for a medical experience where  the practitioner is concerned about not only your current symptoms, but your general well-being, Chinese medicine is an excellent choice. Chinese herbal formulas are a powerful health ally that work gently and holistically. The “side-effects” are typically better sleep, improved digestion and more energy. All you really have to do is show up consistently and let the practitioner take it from there. 

Microneedling — Gentle, Rejuvenating and now On Sale!

Microneedling Special: Experience our gentle and
comprehensive collagen induction therapy. Microneedling Heritage-style is not only extremely gentle, but also a thorough boost to your skin’s health and appearance. 

Microneedling helps improve the appearance of: 
•Fine lines and wrinkles
•Enlarged pores
•Acne scars
•Uneven skin tone
•Stretch marks

Each microneedling session includes LED light and a customized collagen serum. You’ll be ready to show the world your rejuvenated skin the next day. 

Receive 20 percent off first session when booking before 9/15! Uncover your skin’s beautiful potential!

Chinese Herbs: Fact and Fiction

If your acupuncturist has ever prescribed a Chinese herbal formula, you probably wondered about the unfamiliar ingredient names, not to mention the interesting smell and taste.  

Although patients often don’t know the ingredients of their pharmaceutical prescriptions, it’s natural to be curious about foreign words and flavors. If you’re new to herbal medicine, your only exposure to it may have come from articles in the mainstream media that don’t distinguish between culinary traditions and folkloric treatments in China and the very regulated products used by licensed practitioners.

You’ll be relieved to know that prescribed herbs from a licensed and trained acupuncturist are far from the free-for-all depicted in news stories. In fact, they’re subject not only to FDA approval, but also strict laws regarding sanitation and quality control.

Nowadays most Chinese herbal formulas are dispensed in pill or granule (powder) form.  At Heritage Acupuncture we use granular herbal powders because it’s easier to customize individual formulas by adding or subtracting ingredients.

So what are Chinese herbs? The Chinese materia medica, or catalog of individual herbs, is comprised of entirely natural substances, many of which already occupy space in your fridge or kitchen cabinet (examples include ginger, cinnamon, pepper, chives and cloves). Some are roots, barks or resins such as frankincense or myrrh. This natural herbal pharmacy also contains plant roots, seeds  and even flowers. 

In order to prescribe an herbal formula, your acupuncturist has received at least four years of formal training and taken a national exam with material on both acupuncture and herbalism. Acupuncturists also must hold a valid license and receive ongoing continuing education. 

It’s important to understand that some substances which licensed, trained Chinese herbalists prescribe professionally have been misused by commercial enterprises unrelated to Chinese medicine. For example, ma huang or ephedra has been erroneously used in the supplement industry as a stimulant, typically for sports performance. This is a misuse of ma huang and not condoned or practiced by trained acupuncturists.

Nor do modern Chinese herbalists use substances from endangered species, such as shark cartilage or tiger bones. While these substances may be bought and sold in China, usually for culinary or folk remedy purposes, herbalists trained in the U.S. do not use them, nor are they available from practitioner herbal suppliers.

 Your licensed practitioner also is not permitted to use herbal ingredients containing pharmaceuticals or toxic ingredients. In fact, the herbal suppliers for licensed practitioners must comply with FDA approval and other strict quality control. At Heritage, we purchase most herbal ingredients from Legendary Herbs, a Colorado-based distributor importing herbs from Tianjiang Pharmaceutical. This is  a $100 million factory that supplies over 10,000 Chinese medical clinics and distributes to over 20 countries.

Every herbal batch is tested for heavy metals, microbial contaminants, yeasts and molds. The factory uses gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to test for pesticides, enhanced with third-party testing in the U.S.

Tianjiang Pharmaceutical was the first granule factory in Chinese to receive GMP (good manufacturing practice) certification, a standard established by the FDA to ensure safety and quality control in supplements and pharmaceuticals.

Click here to read more about Legendary’s quality control policies:


Our intent is to reassure patients and prospective patients that Chinese herbs, when prescribed by a trained and licensed provider, are safe and produced according to U.S. pharmaceutical standards.  As gentle as these raw materials are, they’re able to create profound healing in your body when properly prescribed.  They’re effective not only in chronic conditions like migraines but also in infectious conditions. You deserve accurate information about this important health modality from an informed and experienced source.

Stay tuned for Chinese Herbs, Part II — how Chinese herbal formulas can support and transform your body.

Microneedling Now Available at Heritage Acupuncture

We are happy to announce our new offering at Heritage Acupuncture — microneedling or collagen induction therapy.  With microneedling, you can expect a reduction of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, scars and large pores. You’ll notice an increase in skin firmness, tightness and overall health and circulation. The best part is, microneedling safely enhances collagen without surgery, synthetic injections or neurotoxins. 

We offer a comfortable and premium service that includes numbing cream, soothing mask, customized serums, LED light therapy on the face and a luxury biomat of heated gemstones and infrared rays. 

Just after microneedling, your skin’s absorptive abilities increase by 3,000 percent. We seize this opportunity by applying our customized serums based on Chinese medicine principals. Our serums can be tailored to target hyperpigmentation, collagen production, hydration, sun damage, dark circles and other skin concerns.

Read more about our microneedling treatments here:


Strengthening Immunity With Traditional Chinese Medicine

Now that the globe is in the midst of a pandemic, immunity is more important than ever. The reality is, your immunity has always been essential to your health and longevity. Thankfully, strengthening your immune system is something you can control.

Although COVID-19 is a highly contagious and potentially dangerous virus, you are not helpless against the effects of this or any other virus.

The stronger your immune system is, the less likely you are to contract viruses. And even if you do, you’ll be able to shake them off more quickly and with less collateral damage.

Having said that, immunity means more than adopting a few healthy habits. Acquiring and maintaining strong immunity is a lifestyle, one that can make you feel more energetic, vital and resilient every day.

In Chinese medicine terms, immunity has a strong relationship with the lungs. It’s through the upper branches of your lungs — the sinuses and mouth — that you inhale a virus. What happens next is up to your immune system.

Here’s how you can strengthen your lungs, immunity and general health:

–Improving digestion: In the Chinese view of organ systems, the digestive organs nourish and support the lungs. Your digestion thrives with warm, cooked foods like soups, stews and porridges. Teas made with fresh ginger and lemon also improve lung function and eliminate phlegm. Warm, cooked foods and spices such as ginger and scallion are closer to your body’s physiological temperature rather than cold, raw foods. Raw foods not only have to be digested, but warmed as well. Heavy, sticky foods like dairy products and fried foods also encumber the digestion. The more functional your digestion is, the stronger the respiratory system. Pathological fluids in the lungs are also a major factor for any pneumonia condition.

–Healthy movement: Healthy movement strengthens the lungs and removes pathological fluids or phlegm from the lungs. If you experience a productive cough after a workout, it simply means you’ve loosened and expelled phlegm buildup. This explains why people cough more at night, as being sedentary (especially while lying down) pools fluids in the lungs. This movement needn’t be vigorous. A 30-minute walk works well. If you combine walking with qi gong, or Chinese medicinal exercise, you’re making a giant leap forward in your respiratory and general health. Qi gong is excellent for immunity as well. See this link by renowned acupuncturist Peter Deadman for a routine specifically for the lungs:


–Skin brushing: Wei qi is a concept in Chinese medicine describing a layer of protective energy at the skin’s surface. If your wei qi is strong, you’re less vulnerable to exterior pathogens (meaning viruses). Being overworked, under rested or malnourished weakens wei qi. It’s possible to stimulate this immune force superficially by brushing the skin. In Western medicine terms, this boosts the lymphatic system, where important immune cells congregate. Skin brushing also improves energy and has cosmetic benefits as well. Read more here:


Essential oils: Many essential oils are antiviral in quality. Others are natural phlegm-busters and lung cleansers. A great combination is eucalyptus and lemon or lemongrass essential oils. Other antiviral essential oils include bergamot, rosemary, oregano, ginger and thyme. Never apply essential oils to the skin without first testing for an allergic reaction. These plant essences also must be mixed with a base oil for safe topical application. To take advantage of these antiviral aromas, use a diffuser, place on a cotton ball and inhale or make a topical blend. For example, mix 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops eucalyptus essential oils with 1 ounce apricot seed oil (this base oil has an affinity with the lungs). Apply this oil to your neck, throat and forearms for natural virus protection. Note: While the coronavirus pandemic exists, use this measure in addition to wearing a mask and gloves.

Finally, be aware that Traditional Chinese herbalism has been a component of 85 percent of COVID-19 cases in Chinese hospitals. If one is prescribed a Chinese herbal formula in the beginning phases of infection, in many cases it will help to prevent the progression to lung involvement and respiratory function decline. If you or anyone you know needs help, Heritage can assist with a telemedicine consultation.

Telemedicine is also helpful for pain, insomnia or anxiety. We’re happy to assist you wherever you’re social distancing.

To your health and safety,

Janet Lee, L.Ac.

Photo by Dominik Martin on Unsplash

Heritage Now Offers Telemedicine

Heritage now offers Traditional Chinese Medicine from the comfort of your own home in the form of telemedicine.

Now that many of us are staying home, this option removes the stress and time of travel to a medical office.

With telemedicine consultations via videoconferencing, we can address health concerns as general as stress relief or as specific as upper respiratory infections.

With your telemedicine consultation, you’ll receive a customized treatment plan. Some health measures your treatment plan may include are dietary recommendations, lifestyle modifications, stress relief suggestions, acupressure techniques or a Chinese herbal formula.

Keep in mind that Chinese herbalism has been employed extensively for COVID-19 and is extremely helpful for mild to moderate cases. If you’re interested in a treatment plan for prevention telemedicine also is an ideal format.

Please call Heritage to see if telemedicine is right for you (919-685-2938).

Photo credit: Creative Commons Zero

Acupuncture: Your Ally Against Shingles Pain

 Anyone who has ever experienced the pain of shingles, or the herpes zoster virus, can attest to the excruciating pain of the condition. The most common cause of chronic nerve pain, shingles affects one out of every three people in the United States. In fact, more than one million cases are diagnosed every year.  

Although Shingrix, the shingles vaccine released in 2017, is highly effective, some people still experience symptoms in spite of being vaccinated.  
 Like other herpes viruses, the varicella-zoster virus has an initial infectious stage (chicken pox), followed by a dormant stage when the virus settles into nerve tissue.  About 20 percent of people who have had chicken pox will eventually develop shingles. Outbreaks start with itching, numbness, tingling or severe pain and can progress to a rash, most commonly occurring on the trunk. Shingles can also occur on the scalp, face or even eyes.  Initial symptoms may also present like the flu, including headache, fever, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes.
 During chicken pox infection, the virus enters the cutaneous nerves and then travels to the dorsal root ganglia of the spine, where it lies dormant until triggered. Stress, illness, emotional upset, immuno-suppressant drugs, fatigue and radiation therapy all can set the stage for a shingles outbreak. Your chances of experiencing a bout of shingles increases with age, being most common in those over 50.
 So how else can you protect yourself?  If you do notice these symptoms, it’s important to seek Chinese medical care as soon as possible — even if you’re taking prescription antiviral medications.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), shingles is considered a latent pathogen. All illnesses are classified according to the stage of infection and position in the body’s physiology. For example, a straightforward cold stays more at the body’s surface, whereas cancer lies deep in blood tissue or organs.
 TCM considers shingles a Shao Yang pathology, meaning one that is deeply entrenched in the body and periodically flares.  In fact, there are specific herbal formulas specifically designed to combat Shao Yang illnesses. These formulas tend to have antiviral properties and not only help reduce symptoms, but can weaken the virus while strengthening the immune system. 
  Acupuncture may also be employed as a powerful tool to clear rashes and ease pain, especially by working specifically in spinal dermatome areas called Hua Tuo Jiaji points. As shingles rashes tend to follow specific nerve pathways originating in vertebral nerve centers, these points can help clear up shingles at the source.
  Even if you’re already taking antiviral medications like acyclovir,  Chinese medical treatment can not only provide powerful relief, but also strengthen your immune system and body in general. The result: faster recovery from shingles, reduced change of future outbreaks and improved overall health.

Heritage Acupuncture & Wellness  •  14 Consultant Place, Ste. 250  •  Durham NC 
(919) 685-2938  •  Info@heritageacupuncture.com
Accessibility Statement

Heritage Acupuncture & Wellness
14 Consultant Place, Ste. 250
Durham NC  27707
(919) 685-2938
Accessibility Statement

Heritage Acupuncture