Mental Health And Women’s Wellness

Integrative Family Medicine

Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine located in Olney, MD

Mental Health and Women’s Wellness Q&A


Acupuncture is an ancient medical therapy that is safe, effective, and helps accomplish major health goals without pharmaceutical treatment. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body's own ability for healing and self-regulation. 

One condition that acupuncture treats very well is insomnia:

"In clinical trials including Western medications, sleep hygiene and acupuncture to treat insomnia, the acupuncture group reported better sleep quality and duration of sleep." Yeung, Sleep Med (2009)

Many patients experience the benefit after just one treatment. We often hear in the clinic that after the first treatment the patient enjoyed the best sleep they've had in years. 

Whether you are experiencing difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty staying asleep (or both) acupuncture may be the solution of your dreams. I see many patients for insomnia who have been taking pharmaceutical drugs for years and not only are not seeing an improvement but also have to deal with the side effects of those drugs such as drowsiness, brain fog, sluggishness in the morning, GI issues, and so forth...

Scalp acupuncture is one of the approaches to treat Insomnia in Oriental Medicine. It helps to improve conditions such as Insomnia, any types of headaches, maintaining low blood pressure, and many neurological disorders. With the power of Oriental Medicine, we are able to treat the root cause of the disease.


"Rigorous studies show that acupuncture positively influences Heart Rate Variability which measures the balance of the autonomic nervous system. A healthy autonomic nervous system means physiological, emotional, and hormonal well-being."

Chung, Evidence-Based Complementary/Alternative Med. 2014

Modern research has shown that the central nervous system and the gut biome have a pivotal impact on our emotional well-being. The two primary aspects of the central nervous system are the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), and the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). When these twin aspects of our being are properly adapted and re-educated to be more balanced, our mood is also more balanced and manageable. Acupuncture has been shown in studies to help regulate these aspects of our nervous system, as well as positively influence gut microbiota. 

Clinically patients report feeling a major shift in their mood sometimes after just one treatment. After continuous long-term acupuncture, many patients report a complete improvement in their stress, anxiety, and mood from before acupuncture treatment.

We also have experience in helping patients reduce, minimize, or altogether stop using mood-altering pharmaceuticals such as Xanax through acupuncture and herbal medicine.

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, stress, or needs support for their mood, please don't hesitate to call and make an appointment today.


In ancient Chinese cosmology, all sickness is due to stagnation or stasis. They came to this conclusion because when they observed Nature they saw that everywhere was movement. Each season is slowly turning into the next, the sun is replaced by the moon, then back to the sun and so on. Trauma is when an overwhelming experience remains stuck so to speak in a person's nervous system.

The goal therefore of Chinese Medicine is to help the person suffering from PTSD to become "unstuck", that is to process the experience in a healthy way and move on with their life.

The primary way acupuncture does this is by helping the body return to a healthy equilibrium within its central nervous system: namely the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The parasympathetic nervous system is the aspect of our nervous system that allows for rest and digestion. The sympathetic nervous system is for fight or flight. Both are vital for survival, and have their proper place. Sufferers of PTSD very often have their sympathetic nervous system stuck in "on" mode so everything feels like fight or flight.

Acupuncture can restore the normal balance between the two aspects of our nervous system, and over time helps return a person to feelings of normalcy.

If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD of any kind, please don't hesitate to contact us. Complete recovery is possible.

For further reading see "The Tao of Trauma" by Alaine D. Duncan

Seasonal Depression

As we approach the Winter holidays it's easy to remember the sights, the sounds and warmth that usually accompany them. However for many, in the midst of the lights, darkness is also found.

Less sunlight, social pressures, financial strain, and perhaps the absence of recently passed loved ones are all contributors to seasonal depression in Winter. This is probably also worse than it has been in a long time due to Covid related isolation and fear. We, at IFM, want you to be aware of some healthy tips to help you beat the seasonal depression as much as possible:

First, and most importantly, one needs to have a regular exercise routine. It doesn't have to be complex, or extreme, just a daily routine of movement is all that is required. Simply walking, or using stairs is a way to keep moving, and movement equals health. We can offer exercise ideas and guidance for those who need it.

Similar to this, we recommend daily qigong practice. Qigong means "breath work" and it involves sitting or standing in a meditative way with relaxed movements, and intentional breathing exercises. Our practitioners at IFM can guide you in qigong movements to help keep you well in your body and mind. Free qigong videos are also available on YouTube. Search under Qigong for Depression.

We at IFM also offer acupuncture and herbal remedies for seasonal depression as well as helping you maintain emotional balance and better sleep year round. Please contact us today for more information, and to make an appointment. 

Good afternoon, Dr. Dougherty. What can you tell our readers about your experience in treating infertility?

Dr. Dougherty: Hello! First, if I may, in order to provide context I'd like to talk about how I view the treatment of infertility. The way I like to explain my approach to patients is that in the ancient East, they viewed medicine like tending a garden, and not like going to a mechanic. And so, I look at the whole person, from past experiences, lifestyle, and all symptoms no matter how small. All of these aspects of a person fit together into a pattern that I then use to diagnose and treat. Ultimately my goal is to get the patient as healthy as possible, with their body running as efficiently as possible, and then let Nature take its course. I've seen a lot of clinical success as a result. 

As we also know, sometimes an additional kind of intervention may be needed, and modern Western science has helped us to achieve amazing things for fertility. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two of the most well-known for their efficacy. About 80% of the fertility patients I see are in the IUI or IVF process and come to get additional support. As a result, I have extensive experience in working with modern fertility practices in an integrative way.

What exactly takes place in this "garden tending" as you describe it? What can a fertility patient expect during treatment?

Dr. Dougherty: Well, I like the analogy because the use of acupuncture and herbs can often seem very subtle and gentle much like pruning or training a vine. It is only by looking at the garden over time can one see the major shifts and positive changes (and of course the eventual harvest). For this reason I encourage my patients to keep track of their basal body temperature so we can see how things are progressing over time. It provides an objective look at the healing process. 

In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, I also provide things to do at home such as nutritional changes and exercises to enhance one's fertility. Just as each individual is different and the causes of their infertility will be unique to them, my approach is also individualized. 

Can a patient only come for fertility if they haven't tried IVF?

Dr. Dougherty: Anyone is welcome who is attempting to get pregnant. Whether I'm the first stop, the last stop, or simply to help the effectiveness of IUI or IVF, I can help. Men also have seen positive results in increasing their sperm motility and mobility. I have the benefit of an integrative approach that can see through the lens of both Eastern and Western Medicine which can prevent headaches or save money in the long run. 

Anything else that you think our readers should know?

Dr. Dougherty: That this is the perfect time of year to begin something new, or to renew plans you've had. If you are in the process of attempting to become pregnant, please make an appointment with me today. Let's start the year on a path towards possibility.

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