Ep. 65: Felicia Yu, MD – Increase Your Energy Flow for Best Recovery

Balance is always important. Especially when healing.

To keep things flowing smoothly it’s important to have balance. Focusing more on one thing and forgetting or ignoring others creates a situation that is not harmonious – and this can cost you greatly further down the road. Balancing energies has been a big area of focus in Eastern medicines for thousands of years. It’s something that isn’t really talked about in our evidence-based Western medicine, but is crucial in, for example, Traditional Chinese Medicine.

And when we speak of balance, this also applies to how we combine and use the techniques each of these approaches offers.

This is an interesting and important point that Dr. Felicia Yu, an integrative medicine physician with a specialty in traditional Chinese medicine and culinary medicine, brings up in this talk – that Western and Eastern medicine can be viewed as the Yang and the Yin, which also means that knowing when to use one approach, and when to look to the other is essential.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • What are the blind spots of Western medicine and how Eastern medicine can complement your healing.
  • How yin and yang energy affect your recovery.
  • Different modalities that can help you resolve chronic and acute pain.
  • Hands-on work: 4 acupressure points to keep your energy flowing.

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Show notes & links

The show notes are written in chronological order

  • Dr. Felicia Yu’s website: http://www.drfeliciayu.com/
  • The University of Rochester Acupuncture research [discover more here
  • Li, N., Guo, Y., Gong, Y., Zhang, Y., Fan, W., Yao, K., Chen, Z., Dou, B., Lin, X., Chen, B., Chen, Z., Xu, Z., & Lyu, Z. (2021). The Anti-Inflammatory Actions and Mechanisms of Acupuncture from Acupoint to Target Organs via Neuro-Immune Regulation. Journal of inflammation research14, 7191–7224. [read it here]
  • Bai, L., Qin, W., Tian, J., Liu, P., Li, L., Chen, P., Dai, J., Craggs, J. G., von Deneen, K. M., & Liu, Y. (2009). Time-varied characteristics of acupuncture effects in fMRI studies. Human brain mapping30(11), 3445–3460. [read it here]
  • Acupressure point – Large Intestine 4 (LI 4) [see it here]
  • Acupressure point – Pericardium 6 (PC 6) [see it here]
  • Acupressure point – Spleen 10 (SP 10) [see it here]
  • Acupressure point – Stomach 36 (ST 36) [see it here]
  • Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Acupressure Wristband for Motion & Morning Sickness [get it here]

00:00 – excerpt from the episode
00:58 – intro (listen to discover a little more about your host. Martin will tell you a new lesser-known fact about Dr. Maya)

01:37
Dr. Maya Novak:
To keep things flowing smoothly it’s important to have balance. Focusing more on one thing and forgetting or ignoring others creates a situation that is not harmonious – and this can cost you greatly further down the road. Balancing energies has been a big area of focus in Eastern medicines for thousands of years. It’s something that isn’t really talked about in our evidence-based Western medicine, but is crucial in, for example, Traditional Chinese Medicine. And when we speak of balance, this also applies to how we combine and use the techniques each of these approaches offers.
Dr. Felicia Yu and I got connected in 2020. I love the way she explains things and how she connects and balances between the Western and Eastern Medicine – she explains that they can be viewed as the Yin and the Yang, which also means that knowing when to use one approach, and when to look to the other is essential. We uncovered so many things in this interview that you’re tuning in to and that we did back when she was also one of the amazing guests on my second summit. Please enjoy.

02:53
Dr. Maya Novak:
In this interview, I’m joined by Felicia Yu, who is an integrative medicine physician with a specialty in traditional Chinese medicine and culinary medicine. She is also passionate about preventive medicine and educating patients on the different approaches to healing. She believes the path to true health and wellness in balance, moderation, and integration. Felicia, thank you so for being here.

03:18
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Maya, thank you so much for having me. I am so honored and excited to be having this conversation with you today.

03:23
Dr. Maya Novak:
I am extremely, extremely excited because we talked before, we talked about so many things, and I know that this is going to be such a valuable interview for all the participants. Now, before we go into the juicy part, can we start with your story, and why did you become a doctor?

03:46
Dr. Felicia Yu:
That’s a really great question. So, I actually was born into a medicine family. My father was an anesthesiologist. He has since passed. My mother was a cardiovascular OR nurse. And my two younger brothers are also in medicine. They’re both surgeons. So, growing up it was a huge part of my life. My parents both really loved what they did and I think it was something that my parents really hoped would be something that I would choose to do one day, but they were really lovely about being supportive of the passions that I had. And so when I went to college, I found that I really loved art history. And so then my dream became I wanted to be a curator and to design art exhibitions at museums. In my junior year of college, my OB-GYN back at home said, you know what; I need someone to work for me. I would love for you to come onboard. I think it would be a really interesting way for you to experience medicine. And so I started working for her, and it must be something that’s just in my blood because things just clicked and it felt like the environment I wanted to be in, and how I wanted to spend my life. I think as time has passed, it’s just been the understanding and recognition that, for me, medicine and healing, it’s about improving quality of life, and it’s such an honor and privilege to be a part of that process in this world. So that’s kind of how I ended up doing what I’m doing, albeit a little different than a lot of, I would say, Western doctors, but still with Western medicine a huge part of my practice. So, it’s been really nice.

05:39
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, it’s like a marriage between East and West.

05:43
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes.

05:44
Dr. Maya Novak:
It’s having Western medicine with Eastern medicine. So, I would love to ask you, how do you actually then navigate between Western medicine that is more or less about the pills, and then Eastern medicine that is about energy. How do you then navigate this in your practice?

06:05
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So, it’s a really interesting way in which I look at it because I think I’ve come to the understanding that every medicine or every medicine paradigm has its own strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn’t say that there is a medicine out there that is a one size fits all. The way that I look at is Western medicine, initially when the patient comes in; I’ll use Western medicine to rule out the things that are life-threatening, the things that I don’t want to miss. And then once those have been ruled out, I’ll explore Eastern medicine modalities that I think could be beneficial for the patient, or energy modalities what have you, depending. So it’s really a delicate balance, and I think it’s also depending on the patient as well because I really do take the team approach very seriously with my patients, and that there’s some people come to me who are very Western-minded, there’s some people who come to me who are very Eastern minded. And so it’s really a delicate dance to see what the patient feels comfortable with, and what I feel comfortable with because it is a relationship that goes two ways, so that everyone in the equation is feeling comfortable with the plan moving forward. A patient will come to me for recommendations. And so if I feel like a Western modality is a more appropriate option for that particular disease process or situation, that’s going to be the suggestion that I have. But if it’s something that they don’t feel as comfortable with, we can discuss other options. But I mean really it is a delicate dance. And I know we’ll kind of get into this a little bit more, but really, it is a balance of the yin and the yang. And for those of you who don’t know, yin energy is more of like the fluid, open, flowing, energetic or energy medicine type of energy, while yang energy is more structured, more pro-active, a little more rigid in some ways, and more the masculine, while the yin energy is more of the feminine energy. So, when I look at the medicines that I practice, Western medicine feels more yang, and it creates this structure of the guidelines and algorithms and evidence-based medicine, and the research, which I think, is extremely important. So, it creates the structure to hold the energy medicine, which is a little more yin, so it actually augments the effectiveness of yin energy. If that answers your question.

08:52
Dr. Maya Novak:
Absolutely. One thing that you mentioned, and it’s really interesting, is that one size doesn’t fit all.

09:03
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes.

09:04
Dr. Maya Novak:
And it’s interesting why that – so, I have a humming in my ear - because usually, especially when we’re talking about Western medicine, it’s you do it this way, this is it, and everything else is not acceptable or it’s not going to work, or it’s not proven, or it’s woo-woo, or it’s whatever it is.

09:28
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm.

09:28
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, you talking about this, that it’s not about just you do it this way and the rest is hmm. It’s very interesting.

09:37
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Absolutely. You know, it’s interesting too because you can make the argument on the other side that there are some alternative medicines that feel like this is the only way to do it and they totally discount Western. And so, I think that we as a society, as a culture, we don’t want to exclude any of the options because I know you and I have talked about it before, it’s stronger together, right. You need to think about all the medicines as things that you have at your disposal, and that for you, a little bit of Western medicine, a little bit of Eastern medicine, might be what will do the trick. But really thinking that like it’s only Eastern medicine or only Western medicine, so we can kind of augment that in multiple levels of understanding. That it really isn’t one size fits all. And what may work for your husband, or a loved one, may not be what works for you. And that’s totally normal because the reality is we are beautifully dynamic complex beings in a very dynamic environment and world that’s constantly changing. And so, I think recognizing that we’re always needing to adapt to that, and also recognizing that a particular type of medicine might work for you in one time in your life, and it may not be what your body resonates later down the line.

10:53
Dr. Maya Novak:
This is a really great point when we talk about healing from injuries.

10:59
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes.

10:59
Dr. Maya Novak:
Because it’s not like you have to do exactly this, and the rest is not going to work, or perhaps if someone – this is their second, third, fourth, or tenth injury, and perhaps even a similar injury – what worked before might not be working right now. So, it’s not like oh, I’m broken, my body’s broken.

11:24
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mm.

11:24
Dr. Maya Novak:
But it might be time to look beyond that, and explore other options. Would you agree?

11:29
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Totally, a hundred percent. And I think that is – being able to have that perspective shift is being able to give yourself and your body the respect it deserves because things are always changing, always.

11:45
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. Talking about healing, and talking about medicine and doctors, usually what happens when we have injury, and especially if we talk about serious injury, it’s we go to the hospital, we get a doctor, whoever this is, and usually that’s it or there is just one surgeon around in the area. Now, what I would like to discuss with you is how important, actually, is trust when it comes to healing? And why I’m asking you this is because I hear so many times people saying, well, this is what my doctor said to me. I’m not completely sure if I feel okay with that, but that’s just how it is, so I’m going to be here because they know, they are the authority, they have this knowledge. So, can we discuss this trust a bit, and how important it is.

12:40
Dr. Felicia Yu:
I don’t know how to emphasize this more, but trust is everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s with your surgeon, if it’s with your primary care doctor, your chiropractic provider, your massage therapist, it does not matter. Whatever healthcare you’re working with, trust is everything. The stress that you have when you don’t feel like someone has your best interests in mind, whether they do or not. I mean who knows, right. But feeling like you have that trust to know that that person is giving your recommendations with your best interests in mind is everything. I also think that oftentimes – I included myself in this as well because it’s a known fact that doctors are the worst patients! It’s true. But oftentimes we as patients – and like I said, I include myself in this because I’m a patient as well – we often get in the way of ourselves. Sometimes, especially if you have a very good trusting relationship with your healthcare provider – or the provider of health – whatever that looks like, as I said, whether it’s a surgeon, or your primary, or your physical therapist. If you trust that person that regardless of their recommendations they have you in mind as the patient and your healing and wellbeing in mind, even if it’s something that you may not be accustomed to, you’re more willing to be open to it. This allows for you to optimize your potential to heal and to heal quicker, faster, with more quality and what have you. And so, I think that is everything whether it’s injury-related or not, is that you have a trusting relationship. I have found even in my own practice, that patients will come to see me that are more interested in Western knowledge. They just want primary care, just to do the regular standard stuff. I might suggest - later down the road, I might suggest acupuncture for them. While initially, they may not have been open to it because they feel comfortable with me and they trust me, they think you know what, why not, let’s give it a try. Or I’ve had on many occasions people who’ve come to see me who are not interested in Western medicine, and are more interested in my alternative therapies and don’t like to be on medications or pharmaceuticals. And I have convinced them the importance of certain pharmaceutical medications because it will manage their chronic disease or issue that they have when previously they were very against it. But because we’ve developed that rapport and that trust, I was able to help them be more open to something so that they didn’t feel like they were getting in the way of their own care because of beliefs that they had or thoughts that they had. I mean, it’s not to say it’s wrong. It’s just we have things that we kind of come with to any given situation and having that trust will often leave you more open and accepting of things that you might now have originally been as open to.

16:09
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, and trusting, having trust also means that there is less stress …

16:15
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes

16:15
Dr. Maya Novak:
…happening in your body, which is really important when it comes to healing. So, extra stress, imagining going to the doctor’s office like super stressed out, it’s not really a good thing.

16:28
Dr. Felicia Yu:
No. It leads to more dysfunction physically, psychologically, and it just makes it that much more difficult and that much more for your body to overcome when it’s already working very hard to heal whatever injury is going on at the time. And so, just to have that removed, that extra stress, gives your body a chance to fully focus on healing, one hundred percent.

16:51
Dr. Maya Novak:
Absolutely. So many times, I see that injured people around the globe, it’s not just the US or Europe or whatever, it’s around the globe they are focusing mostly or just on the physical aspect. So, for example, if there is an injury, if there is a fracture, okay, there is no weight-bearing or whatever it is, and then you do physiotherapy, you do some exercises, and that’s it, and sometimes it’s even not talking about diet. But what do you find in your practice with your knowledge, how is important is it that we go beyond just the physical when it comes to healing the body?

17:39
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So, that is a really, really great question. While I totally agree with making sure that you’re doing all the exercises and physical therapy, there is that additional component. So, I’m going to bring it back a little bit in terms of history. It’s very interesting because Western medicine, when we think about the enlightenment and the time where we stopped recognizing that we were part of a cycle and that man controlled its environment and controlled around it, there was this separation of understanding that we’re part of this cycle. So, what’s happening with Western medicine too, and keep in mind I’m a big lover of Western medicine as well as Eastern medicine. I love both very equally – my two children! And so, Western medicine, the interesting thing about it is it’s made it so – especially with evidence-based research, it’s only what we can tangibly evaluate. And so Western medicine has very much become about the physical. When you think of the mind and the spirit, within the Western medicine paradigm there’s no place for it because there’s no way to evaluate and quantify mind and spirit. I have a primary care practice, and then with that, I also had a subspecialty practice. And so I was seeing regular GP type patients and then my subspecialty was designed more for – I saw a lot of chronic pain patients and people who were having acute injuries as well. And so to get to your question, mind, body, and spirit, time and time again I would see it in my clinic that yes, there is the physical aspect of it as well, but the mind and the spirit plays such a huge role. Our mind is such a powerful entity. To the point where our understanding of our mind, we don’t even have the capacity to truly understand our mind. And I don’t know how to say this, hopefully, I’m going to be able to explain it correctly, but everything of our reality, not limited to pain, our whole experience, our whole reality of this world and this lifetime, and every lifetime after if you believe in lives, is within our mind. And so pain as well is kind of created and filtered through our mind. It’s not to say there isn’t a physiologic structural reason why you have pain. But your perception of pain, there is a huge mind component to it as well. And so recognizing that you – especially if someone is going through chronic pain because of an injury, having a pain psychologist get onboard is super important. Making sure that you’re doing things from a self-care perspective, not just with physical therapy and exercise, but with diet and sleep. Because when you don’t get good sleep also, your perception of pain is worse. And so that also there’s the stress component, the physical stress, but also the mental stress of not getting enough sleep. And then, of course, even stress management. I have a lot of patients who will say to me, you know when I get stressed out my pain is worse. And so it’s the recognition that as much as it might be easier to think of us as just bodies, or a mind, or a spirit, we’re really such an intricate combination of everything, and you just see it time and time again. Having chronic pain, oftentimes that can change who you are because having to live with that experience day in and day out is extremely difficult and there’s so much suffering that comes with that. Oftentimes I’ve worked with patients and like their personality with me changes or even just their demeanor because – and they’ll say to me, the person that you met, me in the beginning wasn’t who I was. Because they were just suffering so much. And so I think recognizing that it’s all bundled together, and that making sure that you’re addressing all of the facets really can shape your experience of healing from an injury.

22:10
Dr. Maya Novak:
I love what you just explained, and I could not agree more with you in regards to pain. I have personal experience with chronic pain, and it really changes you. Also, because when I was in that strong chronic pain before, it’s not just a few hours. It’s not just a few days. We are talking here about weeks and months.

22:32
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm.

22:33
Dr. Maya Novak:
And at the end, you are emotionally, and mentally, and physically so drained.

22:37
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mm.

22:37
Dr. Maya Novak:
And then you are in this cycle because you are so drained and your perception about pain also changes. The nervous system is completely excited, so it’s even more pain there. So, it’s a cycle. Pain absolutely changes you. Now, talking about pain, do you have any advice, or let’s say that there is a person who is listening to this, they are in chronic pain – whatever it is, whichever part. But let’s also say that they’ve been trying so hard for the last few weeks, months, or perhaps even years, to find a solution in Western medicine – meaning pills or perhaps a surgery, and it’s still not getting better. What would you advise to this person? What could be their next step to resolving this?

23:32
Dr. Felicia Yu:
In terms of like a couple of healing tools that I would recommend or just …?

23:38
Dr. Maya Novak:
Or perhaps going a bit deeper also in this mind-body connection in regards to pain and perception.

23:46
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mmm.

23:46
Dr. Maya Novak:
Or something just that it’s not so yang, not so West…

23:51
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm.

23:51
Dr. Maya Novak:
… but that we talk about everything. Because I love that you mentioned body, mind, and spirit and if we are talking and focusing just on the physical aspect, it’s like we are trying to sit on a three-legged chair with one leg, so it’s not going to work, we’re going to fall, right.

24:11
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah, for sure.

24:11
Dr. Maya Novak:
Can you talk a bit about this?

24:14
Dr. Felicia Yu:
I think if we’re talking about tangible things, and you can kind of steer based on if you want an answer kind of more towards one way or the other, so just let me know. But because I practice Eastern medicine, I think that acupuncture is a really – well, and just then really traditional medicine. So, what that encompasses is acupuncture, acupressure, cupping, ear seeds. There’s a lot of self-care that goes along with it, especially in my practice. Talking about things that you can do at home as well. These are things that I think are modalities to try, especially if you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your Western Medicine options. Integrating in meditation to help work with that mind aspect of it. I know MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a more Western version of what we think of as meditation. It was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and it really was created to kind of integrate into the Western model, Western medicine model. So, that’s something to look into. I think that, and I brought it up as well, but especially chronic pain, and I mean, even acute pain if it’s something that you’re not used to, having a pain psychologist on board. I know in LA we have a lot of different types of modalities that people across the world may not. Or they may have even modalities. I mean, who knows. But someone who specialized in pain, I think is a really important person to have on board. I talk with my patients all the time, in general, I think having a therapist onboard no matter who you are, and what you’re going through in your life is really nice. Just to give you that time and space to be able to look at things in a way that you may not ordinarily see. So, those are things that I would think about that are a little more outside the box in terms of like a Western medicine paradigm.

26:14
Dr. Maya Novak:
That’s great. You mentioned acupuncture, and I would love to talk more about this because I’m getting these types of questions often. Maya, can acupuncture actually help me? And the reason why I’m probably I’m getting is also because when I was sharing when I was going through recovery, I had an amazing physiotherapist who was also somewhere, let’s say in the middle. She started doing some acupuncture on my legs, mostly to break the knots in my muscles, in my calf muscles. But can you explain what acupuncture is, and why it’s helpful or why it’s not? Or is there something that people – is there a certain type of people or in certain conditions that they shouldn’t be going into acupuncture?

27:15
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Okay, great. So, I know there are a couple of questions lodged in there, so just…

27:18
Dr. Maya Novak:
Sorry, it’s a lot, I know! [laughs]

27:21
Dr. Felicia Yu:
[chuckles] It’s okay, but just let me – if I’m not getting to one, just like ask the question again maybe!

27:29
Dr. Maya Novak:
We'll continue in just a moment. I wanted to quickly jump in for two things. First, thank you for tuning in. And second, I’m sure you have at least one friend, colleague, or family member who would very much appreciate this episode. So share it with them and help us spread the word. Now let’s continue…

27:51
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So, acupuncture – basically, I’ll just kind of start off broadly. Chinese medicine is an energy medicine, which is different from Western Medicine. It is a more zoomed out holistic way in which we look at the body. Western medicine, just to kind of give you the offset, is a more reductionist way of looking at the body down to like the organs, to the tissue, to the cells. It’s like basically reducing things down so you’re seeing all this like – these little micro components of our body. And then Chinese medicine is really this beautiful zoom out. And so I think that’s why it’s really nice to have the marriage of the two because you get both perspectives. So, when we’re talking about energy, what we’re really thinking about when we’re engaging these modalities, these manual therapies, it’s about moving the energy in the body because what we’re really seeking is balance. And so it’s really about the philosophy of – we kind of touched upon it before – it’s the yin and the yang. And so it’s the idea that there’s two opposing but complementary forces. You cannot have one without the other. I know probably many of you are familiar with that symbol, the yin/yang symbol in the black and white. It’s the idea that these two forces create life and energy, and when they’re separate and yin and yang collapse, life doesn’t exist anymore. So, these modalities are constantly there to reimagine the balance, kind of refocus your body where it needs to go so that you can achieve that balance again because often what happens when you’re looking at the yin and the yang in terms of healing, when you’re totally in balance you are in – of the perfect state of health. The yin and yang are balanced. When the yin and yang are out of balance, that’s when you have disease, pain, illnesses, trauma, that type of stuff. What’s happening is that there are what we think of as energetic blockages in these energy channels or meridians that go throughout your body. There are probably like 350 acupoints, acupuncture points, whatever you’d like to call them. When you use these different modalities of acupuncture needles, acupressure with hands, cupping with the glass cups or the plastic cups, it’s really stimulating all of these points to try to help release the blockage so that your energy is flowing again to create balance. What you don’t want is stagnation. So, when we’re talking about injury, that is an area of stagnation, a physical stagnation that’s also causing energetic stagnation at these points – whether it’s a leg injury, a head injury, neck, back, what have you. When we think of it from a Western perspective, what exactly is happening from a science perspective, right? There are a lot of studies that have been going on. The best that they can figure out – because as you can imagine, the Western paradigm – like I described the reductionist, doesn’t quite fit the holistic. And like I talked about earlier, this evidence-based model of evaluating something, it doesn’t know how to evaluate energy and Chinese medicine in energy medicine. So, oftentimes I think it’s a little difficult for people to understand from a Western medicine mind what’s happening in an Eastern medicine perspective. That being said, the thought is that these acupuncture needles are creating the release of natural painkillers in our body, which are known as endogenous opiates, also known as endorphins. And these endorphins act on opioid receptors, which are basically like pain receptors to create analgesic relief – or basically pain relief. So, that’s the idea behind what people think acupuncture does. There’s also another theory that it creates an inflammatory response that then upregulates your immune system in a positive way. Those are the two, I think, the biggest most popular running theories as people are doing studies. There’s a lot of imaging studies that are done that show when needles are inserted that different areas of the brain light up. And so it’s ongoing, and I’m sure as time goes, especially with the popularity that Chinese medicine continues to gain, that there will be more interesting studies out there. In terms of who should be getting acupuncture, I think that most anybody really could be able to try it. It’s really helpful for pain; I know a lot of people go for pain for acupuncture. It’s really across the board. In terms of subspecialties that I have gotten referrals from, the neurologists will send to me, rheumatologists will send to me, orthopedics, and primary care doctors. Anything that Western medicine is like, you know what, I don’t feel like this is my strong suit, let’s see what Eastern medicine has to say about it, and so I think there’s an appreciation in that sense. Because I mean the reality is Western medicine does certain things really well, like ruling out life-threatening things, and Eastern medicine is pretty good – I think pretty strong about preventative care but also chronic issues.

33:40
Dr. Maya Novak:
Beautifully explained, Felicia. So, if I understand it correctly, it’s that for acupuncture, you have to go to someone who specializes in that because there are needles involved.

33:56
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes.

33:57
Dr. Maya Novak:
What about acupressure? This is something that you can actually do at home as well?

34:02
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So – yes. I mean there are certain things called acupressure massage, for which you would want to have a professional. But there are certain points that you can do at home that can be helpful. And I think the way that I talk with my patients about it too, is we’ll do the needles in those places when they come see me, and then every day that they’re at home and they’re not getting treatment, they can stimulate these points to kind of sustain the improvement that they’re getting from the treatment. Because the reality is while acupuncture is very, very helpful. If you’re not doing things in your day-to-day life, doing self-care and being really proactive about getting where you want to be, whether that’s physically, emotionally, mentally, what have you, you’re not going to get there as soon as you want to. And so making sure that you’re doing your homework on the day to day and then getting the treatment, whether it’s weekly or every two weeks depending on what your acupuncturist would like for you to do, and depending on the injury, because everything’s a little dependent on the practitioner as well as the injury or the condition. That really helps to optimize and maximize your improvement.

35:16
Dr. Maya Novak:
Really good that you mentioned homework, and doing things between as well because sometimes I think that we are all guilty of I’m going to go for a treatment, and then I’m back to chaos. I’m going to go to treatment, and then I’m back to a stressful life.

35:35
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Totally.

35:35
Dr. Maya Novak:
I’m going to go to a treatment, and then I’m in this fear mode of what if I’m not going to heal.

35:41
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah.

35:41
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, it’s really good that you mentioned homework because it’s not just that therapy or that hour. It’s like we have 24/7.

35:49
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Oh, absolutely. And the reality is – it’s so funny, because I will ask my ask patients have you been doing your self-care, and they’re yeah, I go to massage, and I come to you, and I go to my therapist, and say, no, no, no. Have you been doing your self-care? Because there’s something – as much as oftentimes we are like oh, we don’t have time, we don’t want to, it’s so much more effort. I get it. I’ve been there. I’m also a human being. Doing those things, even if it’s one to two minutes a day is very empowering and also extremely therapeutic to know that you are taking part in your own care and your own healing. I find that my patients who are actively involved, they do far better. They do far better in terms of improvement.

36:37
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, it’s taking your healing power back. Not being in the passenger’s seat…

36:43
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes.

36:43
Dr. Maya Novak:
… but actually being the driver. Because when you are in the driver’s seat, you can actually go towards where you want to go. Otherwise, you’re just like I don’t know where we are going.

36:52
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm. Yes, absolutely.

36:55
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, I would like to ask you could we do some hands-on work in regards to acupressure? Some points or something that people can perhaps start doing or some ideas or just to start experiencing positive effects. Would that be possible?

37:14
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah, absolutely. I’ll go over four points that are common points within acupuncture or acupressure. And if you ended up going to treatment, you’ll find probably that these are some of the points that they’ll put needles in. I’ll kind of go about how to find them, what to do, and then what they’re good for. Does that sound good?

37:41
Dr. Maya Novak:
Fabulous. I would love to also hear because even though I do have some experience with these points, I would love to also hear how do you actually do this. Of course, how you find them, but what is very important, and do you massage then these for 10 minutes or is it like 10 seconds or what’s happening? So, please, can you guide us?

38:00
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes. I would be happy to. Okay, so the first one is a super common point. It’s what we call Large Intestine 4 for LI-4. It’s on your hand. Let’s see if I can do this so that people can feel it and see it. So, oftentimes what you want to do, you want to put your thumb and your index finger close together and when you’re looking at it yourself – let’s see if I can angle it so you can see it. You’ll see that the muscle kind of bulges right here…

38:29
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yeah.

38:30
Dr. Felicia Yu:
…on this area. And so that’s around where it should be. Keep in mind everybody’s bodies are a little different. So, these are just general directions. Once you get to that general region, you can feel around to feel the point that’s most sensitive for you. When you open it up it kind of looks like – let’s see if I can find it. It kind of looks like this, that’s where the point is, and I usually use my thumb. Let me see if I can do it so you guys can see it. Great. So, it’s right in that area. The way I describe massaging it, I typically would say do circular motions, 30-45 seconds a day. It’s not a huge investment. This is – oh, sorry. This is…

39:15
Dr. Maya Novak:
It’s okay!

39:16
Dr. Felicia Yu:
… okay, there we go. Sorry, guys! Okay. Circular motions, 30-45 seconds. If you want to do it more, you can. This is an amazing point for stress. So, if you are sitting in a meeting. You’re sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your appointment. You’re sitting in the car at a stoplight with heavy traffic. I mean everyone talks about the notorious LA traffic, you know. This is a really great point to just sit there and massage. So, what it does is it down-regulates your sympathetic response, your fight or flight response so that you’re more in the parasympathetic response. Even just because you’re creating that sensation, it’s making you more present as well. This point is also really great for headaches and neck pain. If you go on Amazon, there’s actually even devices that look like little claws that you can push right there, which is hysterical. My friend showed me the other day, and I was like that’s so interesting, and not a bad idea. So, that’s a really great point that people use, and it’s a very, very common point. It’s super easy to do. People don’t even realize what you’re doing, and you can do it on both hands. So, something to think about, and this point is the only one that crosses over. If you’re having, for example, a headache on your left side, you actually want to massage your right side. And if you’re headache on your right side, you want to massage your left. But if you’re just doing it daily, you can just do both sides. Do you have any questions about that?

40:51
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, I do.

40:52
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah.

40:53
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, how about if one side is more sensitive than the other side? Does that mean something?

41:04
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes, that’s a really great question. Oftentimes it can be that there’s more stagnation there.

41:10
Dr. Maya Novak:
Okay.

41:11
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yes, and so if you’re someone who suffers from headaches because of a traumatic brain injury or migraines, this is something to do every day, and even if you’re not having a migraine or a headache at that time. Because you’re helping to keep that acupoint open along that meridian. If you find that you are actively having a migraine and headache, please do all of the things you need. I mean like take your abortive therapies. Like I know a lot of people take triptans like Sumatriptan. Take the things that you normally do. This is not instead in substitution of, but this might be really helpful to help with the symptoms while you’re having the pain.

41:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
And I do have another follow-up question as well if you don’t mind.

42:00
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm. No, please.

42:02
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, what about if there is no sensitivity? Does this mean that the energy is flowing? And if we feel something that is sensitive, does this mean that the energy is stagnant?

42:13
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So, just because you don’t feel something mean that it’s necessarily flowing. It could be or could be that – oftentimes I have found some people have so much stagnation that they are already past pain. And so it’s about helping their body understand what sensations are again. Because I will have patients who are also like that because they’ve – it’s almost like their body has just shut down from that standpoint. And so that is something to think about it. So, it could be either/or. But it also might be that you may not be in the right spot.

43:01
Dr. Maya Novak:
Okay.

43:02
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah, when you’re massaging, so just palpate around just to see where it feels the most sensitive for you. Like I said, people can do it like this. Or even some people feel that doing it like this feels that they get more of a response. It just depends on what works for your body. Like I said, not everything is a one size fits all.

43:26
Dr. Maya Novak:
Oh, fabulous. What is the next one?

43:29
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Okay, great. So another one that I think is very common and helpful, especially if you’re having a lot of anxiety surrounding your pain, your experience, the journey that you’re on, and then maybe some fear that’s associated with the anxiety. There’s a really great point on your wrist, and I think many of you might be familiar with it, and I’ll explain why but basically – so you’ll see that there are – let me see if I can get it. There’s – can you see I have two creases, right.

44:00
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yep.

44:00
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So, it’s going to be you’re starting from the first crease – three fingers. It’s really important that you measure based on your fingers, and not someone else’s fingers because this is all measurements for your own body. So, it’s three fingers down, and it’s really between the two bones in your wrist, and oftentimes it’s between the two tendons. So, it’s right in there. This is a really, really great point for anxiety. It’s also a great point for carpal tunnel syndrome if someone is dealing with injuries from that. I know that’s an extremely common thing now with all the computer use, the iPhone use, and the iPad use, etc., driving. And then this actually a really great point for nausea as well. If your pain causes nausea, this is also a good point. The reason I said that some of you might know this is because I don’t know like if any of you have on cruises, there are these things called Sea Bands and there’s a like a little ball that you put on and it has like a tight little elastic band. That’s what it’s really designed to do. If you find that it helps you, you could even get Sea-Bands at the pharmacy or Amazon or whatever works, and measure it out and put it right where it needs to and you can just wear it around. It’s a passive way if you have a lot going on that day.

45:31
Dr. Maya Novak:
You mentioned at the beginning that this is for anxiety.

45:36
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm.

45:36
Dr. Maya Novak:
Is this something that we are massing like with headaches, every day even if we are not experiencing anxiety? Or is this a rescue type of thing when someone has an anxiety attack?

45:52
Dr. Felicia Yu:
It would be an everyday thing. It might help with an anxiety attack. I don’t think it’s going to be ‘the’ thing that does the trick, to be honest, because when you’re in that mode – when you’re in that heightened state there’s not a terribly large amount that will calm you down. Except for, of course, some of the things that we’re familiar with like medications and things, and then some self-care techniques. But it’s something that I would – if you know you just have like baseline anxiety, it would – all of these points you should try to do every day as part of your daily self-care. So, not while you’re in the thick of having a panic attack or anxiety, but just a daily routine that to do. I mean it could even be while you are eating your breakfast, or while you’re doing your meditation. You can kind of start of doing some of your acupoints before kind of settle into your meditation. But yeah, that’s a really great question. You can try it if you’re having a panic attack, and if it helps to make you more present and more centered, but do I think that that is the only tool that you’ll need, my guess is probably not. But that’s a great question, thank you.

47:11
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yeah, and then that’s exactly what I was thinking. Perhaps it’s just that it brings you back to the present moment because with an anxiety attack we are usually somewhere in the future or in the past. So, having something that brings us back to the present moment could be beneficial, but like you said, it might be what really is going to then help you.

47:33
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm, but it’s definitely worth trying. Or if you feel like you’re anxiety is building up, you can give it a try, just knowing that you have other tools available to you if something kind of becomes more expressed and full-blown.

47:47
Dr. Maya Novak:
Great. What is the next point?

47:50
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Okay, great. So, there’s two points, Spleen 10 and Stomach 35. I’m just going to them broadly and then go into them individually. The reason I picked these two points is because they’re really important for helping regulate your chi or your energy in your body. So, getting the chi moving more and then also helping to decrease the stagnation. Spleen 10 is specifically for blood stagnation. Just to remind you, I want to be very clear that it’s not your literal blood. It’s not that your blood in the physical form is stagnating and not moving. What we’re talking about is more of the energy of the blood or the energetics of the blood. Maya and I had a discussion beforehand if there were any points that might be helpful for wound healing or bone fractures in terms of healing. I wouldn’t say these points are necessarily a direct correlation. These points help with wound healing and bone healing. It’s not necessarily that. It’s more so that these points help to optimize the flow within your system energetically so that your body is able to do what it knows how to do better. So that basically, it takes away the things that - it eliminates those blockages so that your body is able to - because our bodies are quite resilient – so it’s able to perform as it needs to. I’m going to start off with Spleen 10 and Maya, we’re going to put up some images.

49:36
Dr. Maya Novak:
The photos are already there, yes.

49:40
Dr. Felicia Yu:
So you’ll be able to see the images. The photos are there so you’re seeing it. Spleen 10, the way you want to think about it is actually in your inner thigh above your knee. It’s three finger-widths above your kneecap on the inside. And so the way that I kind of describe it to my patients is when you’re sitting in a chair, when you let your arms fall to your knees, and let your thumbs fall to the inside of your thigh, it’s around that area. Often people feel like it tickles a little bit.

50:14
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yeah.

50:15
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah, I think Maya found it! It tickles a little bit. I’m doing it right now. This is a blood stasis point. It’s also a really good point for knee pain as well. But like I said, it’s really good to kind of help get the energetic blood flowing again. So, it kind of helps to increase energetic circulation. That’s Spleen 10. Do you have any questions about Spleen 10 before I move on?

50:46
Dr. Maya Novak:
No, I started laughing because this – my grandfather used to tickle me. He squeezed my legs exactly around there and it was always – because he was strong, so it was also a bit painful. But definitely, it’s tickling, yes. I know that point!

51:06
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Oh, that’s very sweet. You know what, he was just making sure, unconsciously, that your circulation and your energy was flowing!

51:16
Dr. Maya Novak:
Exactly! This is great, and what is the last one?

51:24
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Stomach 36, the way you want to want to think about it is it is about four finger breadths below your knee cap on the outside part of your leg. You feel your kneecap, and at the bottom, it feels like there’s two little eyes where the kneecap kind of folds or the kneecap ends. On the outside one, you want to do four fingers from that point, and your pinky finger is going to land on this fleshy part of your lower leg. If you move your foot up and down, you’ll find a muscle pops up – you’re in the right area, right in there. This is an amazing point because it regulates your chi. It’s thought to be really good to boost your immune system and help with longevity from a Chinese medicine perspective. It’s also a really great point for knee pain as well. You’ll often see Chinese Olympians pounding on this area before a race or before a competition because they’re stimulating their Stomach 36. And so, this is a really great point to get things moving, and it’s a really great point also for fatigue.

52:46
Dr. Maya Novak:
That’s fabulous. Once I found this is one I also remembered after my ankle fracture and because all the muscles were really gone basically the tone and everything.

53:00
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Yeah.

53:01
Dr. Maya Novak:
But when I started using it, this is also a bit of a point that is painful when the muscle is getting back the strength.

53:09
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mm. Yes, absolutely. Because it’s such a vital – it supports so much of your lower leg, absolutely. I’m glad to know that you’re intimately acquainted with this area!

53:23
Dr. Maya Novak:
Felicia, that was fabulous. Thank you so much for guiding us through. So, if we just go through the bullet points again. It’s like 45 seconds massaging every day. Once per day or whenever we think of it?

53:42
Dr. Felicia Yu:
At least once a day. If you have time and you want to do it more, that’s great. It should feel a little bit like a dull aching sensation. If you’re getting really sharp pains, if you’re getting a lot of residual pain from that, you probably want to back off and listen to your body. But if you find you’re kind of getting a dull achiness or soreness, I think that’s totally fine. But at least once a day.

54:08
Dr. Maya Novak:
Fabulous. Well, that was fantastic. Now, I would like to ask you what is your number one advice that you would give someone who is injured right now?

54:19
Dr. Felicia Yu:
My number one advice would be – I’m going to say it and then I’m going to explain it. It is a gentle loving reminder that your body is not your enemy. That your body – because I’ve heard time and time again from my patients that they feel that their body has betrayed them, and they feel like they are on an opposite team than their body. I think that recognizing that your body is doing the very best he or she can, and our bodies are really resilient but having that perspective shift to feel like, okay, I’m trying my best. My body’s trying his or her best. It’s really going to be about us communicating. Me hearing my body, and seeing what it is my body needs, if it’s too much, if it’s too little. Just feeling like you’re on the same page, I think, is so, so important and such a vital part of getting to where you want to be in terms of your healing journey. I hope that resonates with some of you because I just have heard it so much from so many of my patients and that’s incredibly understandable to feel like you’re at odds with your body. Especially because there’s so much that it feels like such a black box. Like it’s such a mystery as to what’s happening. But I think trusting that your body’s always trying to do what it knows to do. It just might be doing some things right now. To try to regain its footing it might need a little help. That’s where all of this physical therapy, talk therapy, meditation, all of these things can help to supplement so that it kind of gets you and your body back on the same page.

56:18
Dr. Maya Novak:
Great advice, and I could not agree more with you. It’s not that the body is broken.

56:26
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mhm.

56:26
Dr. Maya Novak:
Or that he or she let you down. Because your body is trying to do the best that it can do in that very moment. So, I love this advice. Now, sometimes healing can be really difficult and really long.

56:48
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Mm.

56:48
Dr. Maya Novak:
It can be that long or that difficult that sometimes people start losing hope about their healing, about the future. What would you say to someone who is losing hope about their healing?

57:01
Dr. Felicia Yu:
I would say that number one it’s understandable that you feel that way. But I think that if you’re able to be in a place where you can remember that your body is resilient; remember that your mind and your spirit are resilient. And recognizing that it might just be a shift in perspective on how you’re looking at it, with a shift with modalities that might need to be introduced. Or even maybe not a shift, that maybe being more open to certain modalities. I think that, like I said, hope is a really difficult thing, especially if something has been going on for a long period of time. But I have been so – I’m continually astonished with how incredible the body is, and the resilience that it has. So, I would say as much as you can, don’t lose hope because even in ways that you probably have not or can’t imagine, there are areas that the body can wiggle and get in there and do what it needs to do. I think it’s just about helping to create an environment, a shift or being open to certain things, that gives the body a little bit more wiggle room to do what it needs to do.

58:41
Dr. Maya Novak:
This is beautifully put, yes. Well, we would have this like two or three-hour interview, I’m absolutely positive, but we are going to wrap it up. [laughs]

58:52
Dr. Felicia Yu:
[laughs] This is good. I love talking here, it’s too fun!

58:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
We’re going to wrap it up, and I do have one last question for you which is a bit different. It is quite an out of the box question. So, if you imagine that you are injured right now and you know that your recovery is going to take you a while to be back on your feet. Now, in this moment, you can choose one of two options or one of two gifts. Gift number one is that you go through the recovery and do everything that you can to heal in the best possible way, and at the end, you’re going to have this gift of preventing or not being injured in the future. Gift number two is that you go back in time, prevent this accident from happening, but then you also take your chances and perhaps tomorrow there is something waiting for you. So, what would you choose, and why, Felicia?

59:56
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Gift number one, no hesitation. Wait – let me make sure. Gift number one is have the injury and go through the healing, right? Even if it’s a year plus.

01:00:04
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, even if it is a year or two or three, whatever it is.

01:00:29
Dr. Felicia Yu:
Okay. Yes, gift number one. Mainly because from my own experience and also seeing my patients. I mean, I think the reality is oftentimes, especially in the world that we live in, we have lost touch with ourselves and our bodies in a way that - whether it’s like our intuitive understanding of ourselves. And while I would never wish an injury on myself or anybody, having that experience, the silver lining is you come to grow in ways that you wouldn’t expect because you’re met with those challenges. Especially an injury, I mean it’s such a personal thing. And then oftentimes too, especially if the injury isn’t visible to other people but still causes you a lot of pain, there’s a lot that you have to work through with that, and that requires a lot of true soul resilience. And so I think that there’s a lot of learning and growth that comes with meeting those challenges head-on. But I think a lot of lessons that could prepare for things that would potentially happen in the future. But I think also too, like I mentioned, like the silver lining is, with injury it gives you a chance to slow down to really hear your body. While under not great circumstances, it helps you understand like, okay, when I do that movement my body does not like it. When I do this, I notice my body feels better. And so you’re starting to understand the language of your body more and I think that as we age, the more we understand what our body is trying to tells us and express to us because pain is just one way in which our body is always talking to us. We are with our body for this lifetime. Like the whole lifetime, and so the more we understand ourselves in that way, and our bodies in that way, the better the journey will be so that ideally it’s a more enjoyable one physically, mentally, and spiritually.

01:02:28
Dr. Maya Novak:
Beautifully said. Felicia, those who would love to learn more about you and potentially get in contact with you, where can people find this information?

01:02:39
Dr. Felicia Yu:
You can reach me on Instagram @dr.feliciayu. You can also look me up on drfeliciayu.com. I have a website and you can message me through that as well. But yes, with Instagram, I have tips and health and wellness tips, and so you can always direct message me there.

01:03:03
Dr. Maya Novak:
Fabulous. Felicia, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your knowledge.

01:03:09
Dr. Felicia Yu:
For sure, it was my pleasure. It’s, as always, such a wonderful, wonderful time talking to you, and it’s just so easy. It’s so easy.

01:03:20
Dr. Maya Novak:
Thank you for tuning into today’s episode with Dr. Felicia Yu. If you haven’t done it yet, subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you’re using to tune in, and share this episode with your loved ones – it really can change someone’s life. To access show notes, links, and transcript of today’s talk go to mayanovak.com/podcast. To learn more about The Mindful Injury Recovery Method visit my website mayanovak.com and find my book Heal Beyond Expectations on Amazon. Until next time – keep evolving, blooming, and healing.

Love and gratitude xx
Dr. Maya

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