Help On A Shelf: Liniments & More at HF


Winter: for some, it might conjure up images of snowflakes on eyelashes and other cozy song-worthy things, but in reality, winter can be downright cruel. Short, dark days, slippery walkways– not to mention the viruses that thrive in the season but wreak havoc on our heads and bodies, too... the perfect time to talk about a few of the products Healing Foundations keeps on hand to warm and soothe achy joints and muscles; products we use in our practice daily, and available to you for at-home care. 

CBD Analgesics

Can you say Cannabidiol? Even if you struggle with pronunciation (can-a-bi-dye-ahl), chances are good that you've seen or heard of CBD (abbreviated, and easier to say). Seemingly everywhere these days, CBD is a non-psychoactive extract of industrial hemp (there's no "high" associated with this extract). CBD has been the subject of dozens of governmental studies and clinical trials for treating everything from PTSD to Parkinsons Disease– and can now be found in low, non-prescription doses in hundreds of over-the-counter products. 

When applied as a topical analgesic, CBD interacts with receptors and transmitters in the peripheral nervous system to reduce pain and inflammation. CBD extract doesn't enter the bloodstream in order to provide pain relief, and can't be detected through conventional blood or urine tests for hemp-related products.

After research and careful consideration of this new market in pain relief, Healing Foundations has chosen two CBD products to offer our customers, and so far– to rave reviews!

CBD at Healing Foundations

Outch! Ointment | We particularly like Outch! because it was developed by Brian Bowen, a fellow Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist from Denver, Colorado. In addition to CBD, Outch! contains soothing Traditional Chinese Herbs, and doesn't contain petroleum, formaldehyde, parabens, or sulfates. Great for every day muscle aches, arthritis, sports injuries and stiffness, Outch! is available in unscented salve, and a roll-on with the added tingle of menthol and camphor.

CBD Clinic ProSport | Available only through healthcare professionals, ProSport utilizes quality emollients as a base (organic beeswax, jojoba seed oil, cottonseed oil, and shea butter)– and combines a unique blend of eucalyptus, tea tree, clove, peppermint with menthol and camphor to deliver quality hemp extract for fast-acting, deep-penetrating pain relief. 

Liniments, Ointments & Oils


If you've received Cupping, Gua Sha, or bodywork at Healing Foundations, chances are that you've also received the healing benefits of one or more herbal liniments. We use these topical remedies to soothe skin irritations and sore muscles during and after treatments, and they're available to you to use at home, too! Here are a few of our favorites and most popular:

T-Relief | T-Relief has a number of topical and oral formulas for treatment of bruises, aches and pains. One of T-Relief's primary active ingredients is Arnica, which is often prescribed by surgeons pre-operatively, taken internally to rev up the body's natural healing mechanisms.

White Flower Oil | Developed in 1927 and known the world over, White Flower Oil's primary ingredients are wintergreen, eucalyptus, peppermint, and menthol: great for body aches and pains, plus neck aches and headaches. A dab of White Flower oil under your nose will help to help open stuffy airways for a better night's sleep.

Zheng Gu Shui | Popular with athletes, this liniment is made by the traditional and lengthy process of soaking herbs in alcohol until all the good stuff leaches out to be collected and refined. ZGS can be applied before exercise to increase blood flow and relax muscles and tendons, or for recovery of strains, bruises and sprains.

Po Sum On Medicated Oil | Produced by the same, singular Hong Kong company since 1907, this liniment provides a pleasing double-whammy effect: it goes on cool (thanks to menthol) then turns on its warming power with peppermint to increase healing blood flow. Extract from the Daemonorops draco promotes blood circulation and tissue regeneration while relieving pain. This little bottle in the fancy tin packaging packs quite a healing punch!

Ching Wan Hung | This herbal balm with the funny name is an absolute go-to for any type of skin irritation. Available in a tube or tub, Ching Wan Hung soothes and cuts the healing time for scrapes, burns, rashes, and itchy skin.

Blue Poppy Massage Oils and Liniments | Known for their high quality and available only through licensed practitioners, Healing Foundations carries a number of Blue Poppy liniments and tinctures. These herbal formulas serve specific goals based on Traditional Chinese Medicine; consult with one of our practitioners for the product that's right for the at-home care of your specific condition.

November Update


Looking For Answers, Healthcare And Law Enforcement Turn To Acupuncture

As proponents and purveyors of holistic and drug free therapies, we've shared many posts on our Facebook page about the wealth of data supporting acupuncture as an effective treatment for pain– and for treatment of addiction. Unfortunately, in the United States, where eighty percent of the world's pharmaceutical opioid supply is consumed, the business of treating pain has led to some unfortunate consequences. "Opioid," usually paired with "Crisis" or "Addiction" is now commonplace in the headlines, but some recent news stories are revealing just how complex the challenges we face are– and how acupuncture may play a part in overcoming them. 

Follow this link to read the entire blog post.


Gentle Yoga has moved to Thursday!  •  Beginning November 2nd, join Jennifer Gaspers every Thursday evening from 6:15-7:15pm for Gentle Yoga ($15). Whether experienced or just starting out, Jennifer's class will put your week– your mind, and your body– into perspective with healthful balance.

Jennifer's November Yoga + Meditation Workshop occurs on Saturday the 18th, from 9:30–11:00am. The theme: Seeing Your Truth. Monthly workshops are $25, and you can rsvp by following this link.


Singing Bowls join Qi Gong  •  Venus Sabay recently completed intensive study in healing sound therapy, and is bringing the meditative quality of singing bowls to Monday night Qi Gong (every week at 6pm, $18). If you haven't tried Qi Gong yet, Venus likens it to "moving meditation," with gentle movements and coordinated breath that cultivates your Qi, or life force energy. Venus invites attendees of all experience and fitness levels to "become a force with nature, and no longer feel out of sync!" Note: There will be no class on Monday, November 28. For more information, email

Add your 'like' to our Facebook page for upcoming details: Venus will soon be offering Private Sound Therapy and Group Healing Meditations with Tibetan Singing Bowls at Healing Foundations.

Looking for Answers, Healthcare and Law enforcement turn to Acupuncture

As proponents and purveyors of holistic and drug free therapies, we've shared many posts on our Facebook page about the wealth of data supporting acupuncture as an effective treatment for pain– and for treatment of addiction. Unfortunately, in the United States, where eighty percent of the world's pharmaceutical opioid supply is consumed, the business of treating pain has led to some unfortunate consequences. "Opioid," usually paired with "Crisis" or "Addiction" is now commonplace in the headlines, but some recent news stories are revealing just how complex the challenges we face are– and how acupuncture may play a part in overcoming them.

The Illinois Department of Health and Human Services reports that in 2016 there were 1,826 opioid-related fatalities in our state alone. The effects of the opioid epidemic are most obvious in the numbers of overdoses and deaths, but a recent report by  CBS News and the Washington Post reveals that when it comes to our country's issues with opioids, there may be a shared responsibility with manufacturers of legal opioids, and even lawmakers as well.


Across the country, law enforcement is charged with stemming the illegal use of drugs while facing tough questions about what to do with those addicted; balancing law with empathy in the face of hopelessness. 


"We cannot arrest our way out of the problem, even though we’ve been trying," an Undersheriff in Northeast Florida is quoted as saying. With limited resources to tackle big problems locally, state governments are looking for more and broader solutions to assist in their efforts. 

In September, the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter signed by 35 state attorneys general to America's Health Insurance Plans, a political advocacy group that represents 1300 companies that sell insurance to 200 million Americans. The letter encouraged the organization to "take proactive steps to encourage [its] members to review their payment an coverage encourage healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options over opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain." The group went on to name a number of "effective non-opioid alternatives" that includes massage and acupuncture.


This groundbreaking and unprecedented plea from states' leading law enforcement officers got little play in the national media, but it marks an important step in the legitimization of acupuncture and other proven holistic therapies.


This is the first time that a group of leading law enforcement officers has come together and publicly recognized the legitimacy of non-pharmaceutical treatments, and gone a big step further in asking insurance companies to provide coverage for acupuncture and other treatments not included in many insurance plans. This falls in line with news from last May; the Food and Drug Administration made recommendations that primary care physicians be knowledgable about complementary therapies, and be willing and able to discuss them with their patients.

Slowly, and out of necessity, acupuncture is becoming more mainstream and less alternative. In response to the decimation caused by the highly addictive nature of opioids and the proliferation of prescriptions for them, American doctors and hospitals are being forced to look outside their one hundred year-old traditions for responsible solutions that not only provide an alternative, but often serve patients better. Eventually, insurers will be forced to answer the call of law enforcement and healthcare professionals; to provide coverage for treatments that will help patients recover with less pain, without harm, and without addiction. It's just a shame that it took a national crisis to bring about that change.

Accessibility has and remains to be a major barrier between patients and effective, holistic therapies like acupuncture. If it isn't covered by insurance, it isn't a viable option for many people. Indeed, more insurance plans are including acupuncture coverage, albeit for limited applications. Healing Foundations began accepting insurance in 2016, and in just the past year more patients are finding their plans provide some coverage for some acupuncture treatments. If you're unsure if your health insurance plan covers acupuncture, visit and look for the "verify your insurance" button, or click on this secure link to provide your insurance information to verify your benefits.


June Update

If you're a regular at Healing Foundations, chances are good you've crossed paths with an obviously-expectant mom, or maybe even a baby or two in the Healing Foundations lobby. Since opening six years ago, the clinic has provided pre- and post-natal care to many dozens of moms and their little ones.

In this month's blog post, Rebecca talks about how acupuncture can help before, during and after pregnancy: Click here to read more.

Traveling this summer, and taking along your bestie? Healing Foundations carries a selection of essential oil sprays from Earth Heart, formulated just for your canine companion. Safe for puppies 10 weeks and up (and calming for people, too!), Travel Calm soothes restlessness, drooling, panting, whimpering and stomach upset during travel. Look for the blue, BPA-free, recyclable bottles on our display shelf; $15 each.

• Mondays July 3, 10, 17 and 31 at 6pm, 'Bring a Friend for Free' to Qi Gong classes at Healing Foundations. Purchase a class for $18, and one lucky friend can join you to experience the 75-minute class for themselves! There will be no class on July 24. Questions? Email

• July 4th falls on Tuesday this year: Healing Foundations will be closed that day, but open all weekend prior.

• Roscoe Village Burger Fest will be taking place right in front of Healing Foundations on Belmont Avenue from 11am-10pm, July 8th–9th. If you're planning to visit the clinic that weekend, please allow extra time to find parking and make your way through the crowd.

• Jennifer Gaspers' monthly Yoga+Meditation event takes place on Saturday July 15th, 9:30-10:45am. This month's theme: 'Finding Your Passion.' For more info or to sign up, email

• Our favorite summertime treat is the fantastic selection of free music performances downtown at Millennium Park: The Millennium Park Summer Music Series (Monday/Thursday), and the Grant Park Music Festival (Wed/Fri/Sat). Whether you're looking for classical or world beats, nothing beats Chicago in the summer! We'll see you there!

Acupuncture and Pregnancy: Getting to the Point with Rebecca

Rebecca Gemperle, Healing Foundations Co-Founder    It should come as no surprise that Rebecca received regular acupuncture and complementary therapy treatments throughout her two pregnancies.

Rebecca Gemperle, Healing Foundations Co-Founder

It should come as no surprise that Rebecca received regular acupuncture and complementary therapy treatments throughout her two pregnancies.

If you're a regular at Healing Foundations, chances are good you've crossed paths with an obviously-expectant mom, or maybe even a baby or two in the Healing Foundations lobby. Since opening six years ago, the clinic has provided pre- and post-natal care to many dozens of moms and their little ones.

Clinic co-founder Rebecca Gemperle says that treating fertility and pregnancy directly correlates to the holistic nature of acupuncture. "Simply put, our treatments support a woman's body so it can produce an optimal environment for conceiving and carrying a baby. We work on managing stress and general wellness, but also specific issues they may be experiencing before they become pregnant— like regulating monthly cycles."

Historically, about half of Healing Foundations' prenatal patients have had or are receiving fertility support like IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or IUI (intrauterine insemination). "We work closely with the patient to minimize the sometimes considerable side-effects of hormones and medications required in those processes, and to prepare and support her body for egg retrieval or embryo transfer. Certain things happen at particular times in the process, and each acupuncture treatment reflects each step and what comes next." Rebecca adds that "Once a patient becomes, treatments focus on supporting the mother to allow her body to best provide for the growing embryo."

"Babies are adorable. They're fun.
But also, it makes women check in and take care of themselves.
It's part of why I like doing fertility work."

"Western medicine does have technological advantages that we don't," Rebecca points out. "Important things that affect a woman's ability to conceive can be discovered with blood and hormonal testing for example, or the means to diagnose PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)— those diagnostics that are beyond the scope of our practice. Most doctors are encouraging when it comes to their patients seeking acupuncture because what we do supports their efforts. The difference between ART (Assisted Reproductive Therapy) working or not can depend upon the baseline of their patient. That's where we come in— helping to improve the odds of conception holistically, without additional drugs or side effects. And of course, when an OBGYN or reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) does diagnose a problem, we devise treatments to assist with those issues as they arise."

As the mother of two young girls, Rebecca understands her patients well. "The drive to have a baby is very strong," she says quite dryly. "When you want a baby, you want a baby. Babies are adorable. They're fun. But also, it makes women check in and take care of themselves. It's part of why I like doing fertility work. Addressing what your stressors and lifestyle are, and how it affects your chances of growing your family become a big factor. Our approach includes the obvious basics like managing stress levels, promoting proper sleep and diet while treating the symptoms and effects of pregnancy."

Regular acupuncture treatments can help with a number of conditions some expectant mothers suffer: morning sickness, back and joint pain, fatigue, mood swings, heartburn, constipation, plus preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes.

"Acupuncture is sought out most commonly to treat morning sickness, but for the best results over the course of a pregnancy, we can create the most benefit by starting before someone hopes to actually conceive," reports Rebecca. "If you're thinking of trying, that's the time to begin acupuncture treatments. It takes about three months of 'prep work' to create an optimal environment for conception — quality follicles,  appropriate hormone levels, a good endometrial layer— all these things take time to get ready." She's quick to add that acupuncture for reproductive health isn't just an issue for women. "Research shows that acupuncture is really helpful for men, when it comes to the health and viability of sperm. Plan ahead," she advises.

"All of us at Healing Foundations have worked with hopeful parents excited about growing their families. We see the whole process, and encourage continuing care after the big arrival. We also see plenty of little ones for pediatric acu-therapy and herbal remedies, and even offer infant massage instruction to help keep everyone healthy and happy," says Rebecca, with a smile. "And of course, that's wonderfully satisfying."


Link: Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy
Link: Study Shows Alternative Treatment May Help Male Infertility Problems
Link: Correction of Breech Presentation: A Randomized Controlled Trial


May 2017 Update


Oh, yes, with ever changing sports,
We whiled the hours away;
The skies were bright,
Our hearts were light,
In the merry, merry month of May

From "The Merry, Merry Month of May", a song by Stephen Collins Foster, 1862

In this month's blog post we take a look at an important advancement in the way Acupuncture and other integrative therapies are viewed by Western Medicine.

A spate of recent articles are highlighting how the mainstream is finally recognizing that integration serves patients better. From forward-thinking hospitals, right up to the Food and Drug Administration, the long slow road to acceptance is finally getting a toehold. Click here to read more.

There's just no two ways about it, these are trying times. In the past year we've seen a real influx of folks seeking relief from the effects of stress and anxiety. We're here for you 7 days per week— even if it's to just unplug for an hour with stress-relieving Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Chelation or Reiki. No time, you say? Ear seeds can also help ease stress for just $30 per visit, and you can be in and out in about 20 minutes.

If it's shopping therapy you seek, the sidewalks on both Belmont and Roscoe will be festooned with great bargains from 10am-6pm on June 3rd during the Roscoe Village annual Sidewalk Sale. Healing Foundations is a proud member of the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the the Sidewalk Sale and is the force behind the neighborhood's perennial favorite food blowout– Burger Fest (July 8-9: mark your calendars!).


The long road to awareness: FDA seeks to formalize the inevitable

On May 10th, the US Food and Drug Administration released a proposal for what primary healthcare providers should know and share with their patients about integrative medicine as it pertains to pain management (1).

It's a addendum actually, to recommendations the agency put together in 2011 in response to the United States' escalating problem with overuse and abuse of prescribed pharmaceuticals. The problem isn't only that prescriptions get abused, but also that for some people, opioid painkillers are so addictive they sometimes serve as a gateway to abuse of non-prescribed drugs, too. In Ohio last year, a record 3,050 residents died from fatal drug overdoses. Most of those deaths were from heroine or legal painkillers like Fentanyl (2). Fentanyl is the legal and very powerful prescription drug that killed the singer Prince.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states quite dryly, that: 

"Opioid abuse is a serious public health issue.
Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States."

The FDA believes that if physicians are educated about non-pharmacologic alternatives to pain management— and share that information with their patients— a broader, more inclusive, and potentially healthier approach might replace the singular stranglehold drugs have on patients' consciousness— before addiction takes place. The fact is, acupuncture and chiropractic care, which the FDA also added to its recommendation, are drug-free therapies that provide pain relief for many people, but are historically left out of the conversation in physician's offices. For the most part, patients have been left to explore and discover non-pharmaceutical therapies on their own, which only reinforces the idea of a separation of traditional and integrative care.

“[Health care providers] should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management,” says the FDA in its proposal.

This development is welcome news to providers of integrative therapies that have been traditionally marginalized by Western medicine, but these recommendations haven't been adopted as official protocol as yet. The FDA is accepting public comment on its proposal through July 10th. It is a small thing just to be included in the health care conversation, but a really important step in the right direction for providing thoughtful and appropriate health care for everyone.

The best news is that this move by the FDA isn't really all that ground breaking. There's been a spate of recent articles highlighting how Western medicine serves patients better when integrating therapies once thought of as being alternative. From Shakopee Hospital and Owatonna Hospital in Minnesota, to world-renknown Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, hospitals around the country are seeing how acupuncture can assist and improve patient care before, during and after traditional treatments.

“They think what we do is hocus pocus, and we don’t do hocus pocus.”

– Dr. Marcia Prenguber, University of Bridgeport; Massachusetts 

A terrific article from Connecticut Magazine explains the inevitable rise of integrative medicine, for problems ranging from substance abuse to better care for cancer patients. “The health care market needs it, the patients want choices,” says Dr. David M. Brady, Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Bridgeport. “They don’t want just drugs and surgery, they want more comprehensive solutions to their chronic health challenges.” 



1) LINK:
2) LINK:

RELATED: Drug makers push back on limiting access to their products:

April 2017 Update


Spring greetings! This month we're taking time out from our spring cleaning to partake in some music, meditation, and high tech options for healing:


Lisa Alvarez recently took a few minutes between patients to talk about those fancy-looking pens she sometimes points at people. It turns out that all the acupuncturists at Healing Foundations are pairing high technology with the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Read what Lisa had to say about laser therapy here.

April brought two opportunities for mindfulness and meditation that'll continue right into May:
Now through May 20th, Venus is offering $10 off Chelation sessions; a hands-on energy work therapy that promotes physical and mental well-being. Call 773-880-9939 or schedule your session online.
If you missed Jennifer's Mindfulness and Meditation workshop in April, you can still sign up for the 75-minute class on May 20th. For more information, email, or go directly to the signup page on Dabble to register.

April has had its days. Really, if April Fools Day or Tax Day weren't your thing, then there are other more joyful selections to choose from this month: International Louis Louis Day was on the 11th, and Earth Day on the 22nd gave us pause to contemplate the future of our planet. But April isn't over yet, and there's still time to plan on a free concert at the spectacular Chicago Cultural Center to celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30th!

What's up with those lasers, Lisa?

Lasers have been around since the early 1960s, but found their way into Healing Foundations just a couple of years ago. You may have seen or experienced laser therapy from any one of the three Healing Foundations acupuncturists, but it's Lisa Alvarez, the clinic's co-founder, that has embraced them the most.

"Acupuncture lasers are a gentle form of light therapy that we can apply directly onto the site of an acupoint, injury or inflammation, but we usually use them in conjunction with, or sometimes instead of needles," Lisa says. "Most often, we apply lasers to the same locations as we would acupuncture needles...the end of someone's toe, for example. That can be a very sensitive area, and some people can't handle that much stimulus as inserting a needle there could be painful. I might opt to use a laser on that point to increase the effectiveness of the needles I've placed elsewhere on the body without overloading the patient."

"Because these types of lasers are a very gentle, they're great to use on patients who are in a weakened state, and obviously, lasers are great to use with young children who might be too fidgety to place needles, or yes— for anyone who has a fear of acupuncture needles altogether."

Endre Mester at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary is credited as the father of laser therapy. In the mid-1960s he was interested in seeing the effects of lasers on tumor cells implanted in mice. It ends up that the laser didn't get rid of the tumor cells, but it did accelerate the healing of the mice after surgery. Their incisions healed faster than the mice who weren't treated with lasers, and they re-grew their hair faster, too.

Lisa Alvarez, Healing Foundations Co-Founder

Lisa Alvarez, Healing Foundations Co-Founder

The lasers Lisa uses look a lot like pens, or the ordinary laser pointers you can buy at an office supply store.

The lasers Lisa uses look a lot like pens, or the ordinary laser pointers you can buy at an office supply store.

Lisa says she's interested in technology and how it can work within the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine. "Lasers have proven to be really important in all sorts of Western therapies. People might be familiar with the lasers surgeons use for cutting or cauterizing incisions— they  are very powerful lasers. We use cold lasers that work at a much lower intensity,  similar to those that  chiropractors have been using for years.  Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) has been shown to be  effective in reducing inflammation and encouraging healing in soft tissue."

"The laser pens we use let us focus on specific points to stimulate a reaction, in a similar way that needles do. We use two lasers; a red one for tonification, or strengthening— and a blue one for sedation, or reducing— but both increase metabolic activity on a cellular level. Just like with acupuncture needles: where and how we apply the laser supports the desired outcome, based on the Chinese Medical diagnosis."

Make no mistake, these lasers are not for play. "No!" Lisa says emphatically and laughing, when asked if the lasers she uses are the same as you can buy at an office supply store for making presentations or playing with your cat. "Yes, medical lasers do make light, but the emit at a very specific frequency proven to stimulate cells, not cats' curiosity."

If you're curious about laser acutherapy, just ask Lisa. Her laser pens are standing by.

March 2017 Update:

As the proverb goes: In like a lion, out like a lamb. March starts off fully entrenched in winter, then switches gears and ushers in spring. March is a go-between, and that's a little bit like our work at Healing Foundations. As healers and agents of good health, we are comfortable with transition. We encourage and create it. Patients arrive at Healing Foundations in various degrees of discord: of the body or of the spirit– or both. When they leave us, they're transformed. Many times they're greatly better and sometimes, because change isn't always easy, just one step closer.


"Subtle change can sometimes be the most meaningful," says Clint Smith. "Energy work isn't about moving mountains. It's much more understated than that." A Reiki practitioner at Healing Foundations since 2015, Clint admits that explaining what Reiki is can be the hardest part of what he does. "Reiki isn't like other kinds of therapeutic treatment," he says. "Especially for first-timers, the experience can be nebulous and hard to describe. It's why I'm so enthused and incredibly thankful when my clients are willing to share their own Reiki experience in their own words." 

Read more about Clint and his Reiki practice on the Healing Foundations blog and check out these videos of Clint's clients who respond to their very first Reiki treatment. If you're interested in trying Reiki for the first time and sharing your thoughts on video, Clint wants to hear from you! Contact him at

Join us on Saturday April 1st for the 3rd Annual Belmont Bunny Hop & Easter Egg Hunt! Take a stroll on Belmont Avenue with the family for pictures with the Easter Bunny, crafts, and great prizes for the parents! Festivities begin at 10am, with 13 stops along Belmont Avenue hosting a bevy of activities. Stop by Healing Foundations for "Bunny Yoga": a yoga primer for even the littlest hoppers. Get more information here.


Schedule alert: no Qi Gong class on April 10, but please join us from 6-7:15pm each of the other Mondays this month! If you missed last month's post on our new Qi Gong classes and instructor Venus Sabay, you can see it here.

Clint Smith and his Clients share their First Reiki Experiences


Clint Smith is a Level 3 Reiki practitioner who's been working with clients at Healing Foundations since 2015. "My first Reiki experience was as an add-on to other treatments I was receiving— acupuncture and massage therapy," Clint says. "I really had no idea what it was or how it worked. I had no preconceived ideas, which served me well."

"It was around 2011, or 2012. I'd had a couple Reiki treatments over the course of a few weeks and I was absolutely impressed upon by the experience— bowled over really, but I wouldn't say I was hooked." Clint explains that like a lot of people, getting his head around the Reiki experience took some time. "I have spent decades in the marketing and graphic design industry. I'm what you might consider a type-A pragmatist. I connect with facts and procedures. I had a tough time getting my head around my own personal experience, let alone begin to process the larger picture of how an energy worker could harness unseen energy."

Clint Smith, Reiki Master

Clint Smith, Reiki Master


"Reiki is a nebulous, hard-to-describe thing,"
Clint says. "I'm so enthused and incredibly thankful when my clients are willing to share their own Reiki experience in their own words."


"To be honest, it was Lisa [Alvarez] and the others at Healing Foundations that encouraged me to take my first Reiki class. It was about three years after receiving Reiki for the first time, and in the beginning I was very hesitant and a bit resistant to the idea. Now— here I am." Clint says that sometimes even he has a hard time believing he's so engaged in what was once so foreign. "I can see now that becoming a Reiki practitioner was a culmination of a lot of things— things from my past that were inconsequential at the time, that now have context. Becoming a Reiki practitioner feels like it was part of the plan all along, but still, I shake my head sometimes when reconciling my realities as a 'business person' and someone who works in 'alternative therapies.' They say that you don't find Reiki, Reiki finds you. My Reiki practice has been unexpected and unexpectedly rewarding."

Clint says that he fully relates to how people react when he talks about Reiki. "Reiki is a nebulous, hard-to-describe thing. Despite scientific proof of the physiological response to Reiki and the quantum physics that help explain unseen energy, there's nothing concrete about a Reiki treatment. Every single session and and every person's response to it is different. People are vaguely intrigued at first, but just as I once was skeptical too, people unfamiliar with energy work tend to tune out quickly. That's why why I'm so enthused and incredibly thankful when my clients are willing to share their own Reiki experience in their own words. It's an experience that begs to be shared, and can't be summed up in a single sound bite."


Reiki is a gentle, natural technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes emotional wellbeing and physical healing. If you're interested in trying Reiki for the first time and sharing your thoughts on video, please contact Clint Smith at

Click here for a previously published primer on Reiki.


February 2017 Update:

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

The official start of Spring is still weeks away, but Healing Foundations has claimed February as a time of starting anew! We've got a new presence online, and a new face in the clinic, and a new class, too!

We unveiled a new website this month—if you haven't seen it, please head over to now! Yes, that's right– to match our new, streamlined website with easier-to-navigate pages and mobile-friendly layout, we've shortened our web address to Your old bookmark will still work, but the shorter name speaks volumes about the work we do, and makes getting there quicker, too.

We'd like to introduce you to Venus Sabay, who joined our team this month and brings two new disciplines to the Healing Foundations lineup! Join Venus every Monday from 6-7:15pm at Healing Foundations for Qi Gong. Classes are $18 each, and though class size is limited, you can sign up on Venus's Meetup page, here. Venus is also a Chelation practitioner; a type of Energy Work intended to charge, clear and balance the human energy field. Questions? Email Venus:

February is National Bird-Feeding Month, as proclaimed and entered into the Congressional Record in 1994 by a one-time U.S. Representative from right here in Illinois. We've had a mild winter, but until real warm weather arrives (and the bugs birds survive off of), our feathered friends could use a hand! For ideas and tips from a friendly flock of birders, check out the National Bird-Feeding Society on Facebook.

Qi Gong Classes @ Healing Foundations

Beginning February 20th, 2017—
Join Venus Sabay at Healing Foundations every Monday, 6-7:15pm

It's all about energy! 
There are days when you feel on top of it, and days when you feel stuck. As sentient beings, we unknowingly pick up a lot of unwanted energies from the environment and people, and wonder why we feel or think the way we do. Once you understand that your body is made up of energy systems, it becomes easier to clear out the clutter and intentionally draw in fresh energy. 
Utilizing the art of Qi Gong (Chee-gung) you will learn a series of 15 simple yet powerful movements that will build your life force energy (Qi) from the inside out. Qi Gong is the cultivation of energy; a self healing practice to maintain health and increase vitality. Class will end with a seated meditation.

Venus believes that we are all born with the innate knowledge and ability to heal ourselves through the power of breath.  It is the gateway to one's true potential, and overall emotional/mental, physical and spiritual well being.  Since 2006 she has cultivated the skill of breathing, and in 2012 became a Certified Medical Qi Gong Instructor under the study of Sifu Gail Galivan at Inner Alchemy Energy Medicine.  In acknowledging the effectiveness of self-discovery and truth, her objective is to guide each person to their own unique path via healing and balance in the mind-body relationship realm. Turning off the outside world while emphasizing intuition, creativity, and imagination, she utilizes the power of intention with coordinated breath and gentle moving meditations.  Her classes allow each individual to experience the inner working of their universe with significance and ease, creating a more harmonious life.

Venus has had the privilege of working with students of all levels, including the older adult population at Rush Medical Center's membership program Rush Generations, and at Mathers-More Than a Cafe, to incorporate recreational and wellness programs for the senior community. 

Venus Sabay,  Qi Gong Instructor

Venus Sabay, Qi Gong Instructor

Qi Gong classes are limited to 12 participants, and sign-up is required. Call 773-880-9939 to register, or

sign-up online at

What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese art and science form. It is gentle energy exercises through breath, postures, simple movements and meditation; similar to Tai Chi— but not martial arts based.  One’s life energy is strengthened, cleansed, and circulated throughout the body and stored. 

Qi Gong is a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Every exercise can be done while sitting or standing, and is simple enough for people of all ages with, or without, experience of Qi Gong.  Modifications are made for those who have a specific range of motion, or a medical history, so as to work within their ability.

Qi (Chee): energy, life force that flows through all things in the Universe. Gong: work, or skill acquired through time and practice

Qi Gong improves: circulation, concentration, memory, metabolism, digestion, coordination, balance, wellbeing, awareness. Increases: health, vitality, intuition, creativity. Creates: optimistic and joyous disposition, clear and tranquil mind, relaxation response to stress.

January 2017 Update:

Hello 2017!

New Year's greetings to everyone! Nearly four weeks after the Gregorian calendar declared the new year, the Chinese lunar calendar rung in 2017 on Saturday, January 28th.  It's officially the Year of the Rooster, and we've got plenty to crow and talk about.

On January 18th, local CBS Channel 2 news broadcast a short ‘HealthWatch’ segment on ear seeds, with our own Lisa Alvarez—filmed right here at Healing Foundations. If you missed the broadcast, you can see the video here.

If yoga is on your radar for 2017, join us for class every Wednesday evening from 6-7pm, with Jennifer Gaspers—our resident yogi. For a more personalized approach, contact Jennifer for information on 1-on-1 yoga or semi-private instruction:

New year's celebrations are a big deal in China—lasting anywhere from 7 to 23 days. If you’re feeling like you’ve got some celebrating left in you, you have our blessing! Click here for some fun Chinese New Year facts.

Healing Foundations appears on CBS 2 'Healthwatch' Segment

CBS Channel 2 in Chicago recently stopped at Healing Foundations to talk about EAR SEEDS. Clinic co-owner LISA ALVAREZ and our patient JULIA answered BUNCHES of questions from the segment producer, and we waited two weeks for the telecast, which finally aired on January 18th. We were thrilled to take part, but the segment got EDITED DOWN to bare essentials...if you have questions about or want to try ear seeds for yourself, give us a call! 

If you missed the telecast, you can still see it HERE

One-on-One Yoga comes to Healing Foundations

Beginning in January, Healing Foundations' resident Yogi began offering personalized Yoga instruction on an appointment basis. Jennifer Gaspers has been leading small group Yoga classes at Healing Foundations for almost six years, but really saw the need for a more individualized experience.

"I came to yoga first for relief from a high stress job, and then after my second car accident— to help me regain flexibility and build strength. I found a patient instructor willing to help me modify poses until I got stronger, and more confident. That began my road to recovery, but I had no idea it would lead to so much more."


"It's about moving with your breath, and the meditative bond that's created between the mind and body. When I discovered that, that's when my healing happened."


Sixteen years later, Jennifer became a certified Yoga instructor herself. "Yoga is not about contorting your body or standing on your head once a week. Yoga is about the process of getting into a pose and how you feel in that pose. It's about moving with your breath, and the meditative bond that's created between the mind and body. When I discovered that, that's when my healing happened."

"Many people enjoy the social aspect of group exercise classes, but some feel intimidated by being in a class where people of different skill levels are working together. One-on-one instruction not only allows me to give immediate feedback, but it also provides a supportive environment, where people feel like they can ask questions, and even struggle without judgement." Jennifer says this kind of instruction allows the focus to be more therapeutic, and geared toward an individual's specific needs. 

Experience this One-on-One instruction with Jennifer at Healing Foundations. Each 75 minute session includes personalized poses based on your goals or specific needs, and time for meditation. A private session at Healing Foundations is $65; semi-private (two participants) is $80. Email Jennifer to schedule your session:

Know your practitioner: Is it really acupuncture?

Not all needling is acupuncture

Popularity of acupuncture in the U.S is growing and becomes more integrated with Western medicine practices every day. General Practitioners are referring their patients to acupuncturists on a regular basis, the use of acupuncture needles has begun filtering into a number of healing therapies. 

What is dry needling, and how is it different than acupuncture?
Dry needling is the practice of inserting acupuncture needles into tender or painful points in muscle or tissue, then rotating or lightly jiggling them to induce a spasm and/or increase blood flow. Doctors or therapists in a number of fields often offer dry needling as an á-la-carte service. Practitioners using this method are not licensed acupuncturists, and have not received the training and education required to be one. Dry needling (using acupuncture needles) is a less involved way to leverage the efficacy of acupuncture by performing it without studying or employing it's diagnostic or treatment complexities fully or practicing it in a clinical setting. Obtaining the needles used in acupuncture is considerably easier than getting the training to use them. In recent years, everyone from physical therapists to cosmeticians have begun offering dry needling services, while inaccurately promoting that acupuncture is based in psuedoscience.


Licensed, degreed Acupuncturists
accumulate 1,500 to 2,000 hours of hands-on experience before they're allowed to practice on their own.

Click here to see CCAOM's comparison of required study hours for different acupuncture applications.


 The difference is in the training— and It's the law.
Acupuncture is just one modality belonging to the holistic, drug-free therapies of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Anyone who practices acupuncture must have extensive education, and by law, must be licensed to do so. Licensed Acupuncturists (LAc) who've obtained an accredited degree and passed national certification exams have 1,500 to 2,000 hours of hands-on experience before they can begin practicing on their own. Knowing acupuncture's strengths, limitations and even risks is an important part of a licensed acupuncturists knowledge base. Even doctors in Western medicine who choose to integrate acupuncture in their practice are only required a minimum of 200 hours of training—just a tenth of a licensed acupuncturist, and they're are required to know when the scope of their training ends, and to refer their patient to a fully-licensed acupuncture practitioner. If anyone is using acupuncture needles to treat you, you deserve to know the basis of their treatment, and the amount of education and expertise they possess to perform it.

Security, safety, knowledge, and experience:
Every one of our acupuncture practitioners at Healing Foundations have graduate degrees in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AOM). Eighty percent of their schooling is exclusively in AOM, and they've undergone 3-4 years extensive clinical training. When we say that Healing Foundations offers Acupuncture and Complementary Therapies, that's not just talk; our practitioners have the education and training to back up every one of your treatments, plus the knowledge and experience to carry out your holistic treatment plan.

Getting in the Game with Integrative Medicine

For many people, ya gotta see it to believe it. And everybody did. Those dark circles dotting the backs and shoulders of the Olympic swimmers caught everyone's attention...and suddenly practitioners all over the country were inundated with inquiries about cupping. Rebecca was among those interviewed for a story on the phenomenon in the Chicago Tribune. She and Lisa, Revital and Jennifer have all kept busy cupping in the weeks after the Olympic games, and now we're beginning to see those clients again, and they're bringing referrals, too.

Cupping isn't new of course, nor are any of the other therapies available at Healing Foundations—and Chinese Medicine isn't new to sports, either. If you follow us on Facebook, you know that along with scientific findings, goings on and a few pretty pictures, we like to share links to stories about pro athletes like the NBA's Pao Gasol and a few of the (numerous) players in the NFL who rely on acupuncture to stay in the game. Along with other acupuncture stories, we'll occasionally even throw a non-sports celebrity or animal story into the mix (some of the more peculiar stories involve both).


Athletes have a heightened awareness of their bodies and the utmost interest in getting and staying healthy.  
They don't dabble, and they don't take chances with it.


What's great about athletes is that they have a vested interest in maintaining their optimal health, and for better or worse, people watch and follow them. The influence of sports isn't limited to t.v. and social media. Advances in orthopedics, technology, and even nutrition that originated in athletics have greatly influenced the general public. We're not talking "breakfast of champions" here; we're talking about surgical and rehabilitation techniques, plus better safety and training practices for youth, weekend athletes, and armchair athletes, too.

We don't advocate basing your healthcare on what you see on television, but it's only natural that if someone who inspires and exposes you to something new, you're likely to take notice and engage in conversations about it that you might not have otherwise. Being aware and informed about your choices is crucial—and smart. Being "in the game" may not mean becoming an athlete, it may just mean being educated on all your options. We at Healing Foundations are healers, not pro athletes. Still, we hope that our care and the therapies we offer are part of your heath and wellness agenda.

We're thrilled when our clients talk about their experiences at Healing Foundations, but even if we'd bought a Super Bowl commercial, we doubt we could have created as much buzz and as many conversations about integrative therapies as those polka-dots upon expanses of those barely-covered Olympic bodies, and we love them for it.

When alternative becomes alterna-not: choice, integration, and health will prosper.

“I don’t know how it works, but it works.” That’s what a patient said today when they called to book an acupuncture appointment. Three thoughts come to mind. First and foremost, acupuncture had relieved the condition this patient had been suffering from and the experience prompted them to seek out treatment again. Second; do we as patients always understand exactly how medicine works? And lastly; if it works, does it really count as "alternative?"
In the United States, more than 67% of office visits to physicians of Western medicine involved drug therapy(1). Do we know—really know—each drug’s chemical makeup, which organ excretes what hormone in response, the chain of reaction that causes our condition—or symptoms of that condition—to improve? Does not knowing impact our belief or investment in them? Western medicine and pharmaceuticals save and improve the quality of people’s lives, but like all forms of medicine, it's a marriage of art and science. Dosages are adjusted and alternatives are explored. There are undesirable side effects. On the whole and as a culture however, we have tremendous faith in the system of Western medicine: at any given time, 48% of the U.S. population is using at least one prescription drug (1).
Slowly, the American experience is changing. In recent months we’ve posted numerous articles to the Healing Foundations Facebook page about the growing presence of acupuncture on the healthcare landscape. The U.S. military is using and expanding acupuncture for the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain (2). Among its many studies involving acupuncture and other integrative medicine (3), Yale Medical School is engaged in a fifteen-year research project to reconcile Eastern and Western medicine theologies by applying modern scientific research standards to Traditional Chinese Medicine in the treatment of liver, pancreatic and colorectal cancers. The results have been extremely promising (4).

It is time for all stakeholders making or influencing health and medical care decisions to step back, take a collective breath, and consider what they can do to restructure the highly reductionist biomedical approach to health, illness, and disease that continues to fall short of meeting the needs of many Americans...
Dan Cherkin, PhD.

This past March, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper by Dr. Dan Cherkin (5) that said what many have thought but were previously afraid to say: "Hold up a minute! What are we doing, here?" Cherkin's call to inaction was in response to a randomized controlled trial examining the value of mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with low back pain. The findings showed that the alternative treatments were no more effective than sham treatments—and that's what the people picked up on: that the "alternative" medicine wasn't worth anything because it was no more effective than fake treatment. Except...neither was the traditional treatment. No treatment proved better than the sham treatment: not "standard," not "alternative." Huffington Post did a good job of summarizing the scenario, but regretfully— they buried the story in the "Healthy Living" section (6).

Sure, we would have been very happy to share the news if the study had proven that acupuncture or another "non-Western" therapy had outperformed other methods, but the story the results tells is actually quite amazing. Science is finally proving that alternative is alterna-not. 

We're confident in the scientific future of acupuncture and other holistic therapies: no one methodology will have an upper hand. The future is integrative, not separatist. Western medicine and all it's miracles will join forces and work hand-in-hand with holistic practices to decrease pain and side effects, and improve the lives of everyone. And that is all we could ask for. 

Healing Foundations
Acupuncture and integrative holistic health, since 2011.


Understanding Reiki:

Connecting people with their own inherent virtue is a powerful thing.

Reiki ('ray-key') is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on, or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating that person’s own healing response through relaxation.
Reiki is administered for a variety of conditions; including pain, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Hospitals all over the country, including Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and the Mayo Clinic, are employing Reiki as a complement to Western Medicine. Reiki's underlying concept of vibrational healing, based in the Eastern idea that movement of energy supports the body’s innate, natural healing abilities, is theoretically consistent with the subtle forces observed in quantum physics and bioelectromagnetism. 

Everything is made of energy. People and things. 
Atoms never stop moving; even in objects we percieve as being ‘solid.’ Telephone signals (energy) are sent twenty-two thousand miles into space, and back—through atmosphere and steel and brick—to the four-inch wide receiver in your hand. While magical, it isn’t magic. Accepting these facts can go a long way in comprehending Reiki energy: only because it can’t be seen, does not mean it can’t be sent, received, and helpful. Just like the telephone in your hand, a Reiki practitioner tunes into a specific frequency of healing energy and focuses it for a recipient to use.

“In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.”
Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Laureate in Medicine

Reiki encourages the production of good hormone levels.
It’s widely known and accepted that exercise and meditation are good methods for physical and emotional self-care. These activities reduce levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol, and encourage an increase in oxytocin, known as the “hug hormone”—just like Reiki does—with no learning curve and no need for special clothing, equipment, or predisposed physical readiness. All that's needed to receive Reiki is an open mind and willingness to benefit from it.

Reiki is for everybody. 
Reiki is 100% non-denominational, and has no cultural, racial or economic boundaries. The number of medical and mental health providers in all areas of practice are beginning to tap into the power of energy healing is growing. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration, and hospitals around the world are all researching Reiki and integrating the practice into traditional treatment protocols. Reiki is non-invasive, non-chemical, and has no negative side effects.

You need and deserve to tap into your own healing abilities.
Reiki energy is only delivered by the channel; the person administering the Reiki session. It’s the recipient who consciously or unconsciously determines how they use the energy they receive. The Reiki experience can be incredibly subtle, or in some cases even life-changing—depending entirely on the needs of the beneficiary. Connecting and enabling people with their own inherent virtue is a powerful thing.