Sunflower Seed Oil in Skincare

Sunflowers bring skin healing and sunshine!

Sunflowers bring skin healing and sunshine!

Ever wonder about the benefits of sunflower seed oil? This readily available oil has some amazing skin benefits.

When it comes to skincare, sunflower seed oil is a great source of vitamin E, is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and is effective for combatting skincare issues like acne, inflammation, eczema, general redness and skin irritation.

Here are seven benefits of sunflower oil for your skin:

  1. Sunflower seed oil moisturizes your skin. Due to its rich vitamin E content, Sunflower seed oil has emollient properties that help the skin retain its moisture. Vitamin E helps trap moisture inside skin cells, keeping skin hydrated for a longer period. This is good news for people with eczema.

  2. Sunflower seed oil is high in vitamin E. Sunflower oil is extremely high in vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps protect skin cells from harmful UV rays produced by the sun and other environmental stressors such as pollutants.

  3. Sunflower seed oil helps fight acne: In addition to vitamin E, sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A, C, and D, making it effective in the treatment of acne. Sunflower seed oil contains vitamins and fatty acids that act as antioxidants to regenerate new skin cells and help your skin rid itself of acne-causing bacteria. In addition it's high content of Linoleic acid makes it a great choice for breakouts.

  4. Sunflower seed oil is rich in beta-carotene: Sunflower oil is an excellent source of beta-carotene, a fat-soluble compound that converts into Vitamin A. Beta-carotene’s antioxidant properties are beneficial for the appearance of your health and skin.

  5. Sunflower seed oil can reduce signs of aging The antioxidant properties of sunflower oil help in preventing premature signs of aging, as it helps protect the skin from sun damage. The vitamin E in sunflower seed oil can help protect the collagen and elastin in the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your face.

  6. Sunflower seed oil is beneficial for particularly dry skin: Sunflower oil has natural calming properties that improve your skin’s moisture retention capacity and is beneficial for individuals with dehydrated or sensitive skin. Using sunflower oil regularly can help remove dead cells and impurities, leaving behind smooth, moisturized skin.

  7. Sunflower seed oil helps soothe and heal your skin Sunflower seed oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce skin redness and promote smooth skin. Sunflower seed oil is high in omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acid and vitamin E. Linoleic acid helps decrease inflammation in the skin and enhances the development of new skin cells. It's even recommended by the National Eczema Association for eczema.

External skin care treaments combined with internal herbs help the skin to heal in the most efficient way. Using the right products is key when it comes to balancing the skin!

Treating Pain

"I didn't realize how much pain I was in until after I left your office and didn't feel any!"

Last week, a patient suffering from sciatica shared this testimonial. It made me think about the nature of pain and what our brain does to mask it or, conversely, heighten it. Sometimes, we get used to having a particular pain, so it's almost as if our minds become numb to the pain sensations. Other times, our mind focuses on pain, worries about pain, and gets frustrated with pain. These things can make pain worse.

In Chinese Medicine, an old saying “bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” means “no free flow, pain; free flow, no pain.” In essence, if you do not have free flow of energy and blood in the body, this leads to the perception of pain. When you reestablish free flow, then there is no pain.

Lots of things can block free flow- stuck blood, cold, heat, scar tissue, too much fluid, medical devices, stuck energy- and each cause has it's own treatment. Emotions can also cause blocked energy. Frustration and anger, in particular, affect the flow of Liver energy and cause it to get stuck. Since the Liver is in charge of free flow of energy in the whole body, this can mean big problems with circulation! The Liver is also the organ most affected by stress, or "unfulfilled desires." Any time you want something to be different, including pain, you are stressed, and this causes your energy to get stuck.

One way to get Liver energy moving is to do some deep breathing. Three deep breaths, exhaling with sound, is sometimes all it takes to get things moving. The action of the diaphragm helps to relieve the stuck Liver energy. Deep breathing that you do in Yoga and with vigorous exercise is great for this reason. Meditation which combines breathing and awareness is a fantastic way to manage pain.

Acupuncture is a great therapy to get energy moving, and some recent fMRI studies show that it changes the way the brain experiences pain. Most people that come into our office are experiencing some type of pain, and most people get great results after 1-2 treatments. Some people get long lasting results after just a few treatments while others continue treatments for pain management.

One patient always says "It's like the pain is lifted right out of me when I'm laying there in a treatment. I can’t afford not to come."

Dr. Mary Claire's Herbal Chicken Soup

I like to make this soup in the fall and winter to stay healthy and keep my energy up. Recently, I made a Health & Immunity Chinese Herbal Mix for you to power-up your soups and stews. This recipe is one of my favorites to use with the Health & Immunity Chinese Herbal mix which includes tonifying herbs such as Astragalus, Codonopsus, Jujube, Goji Berries, and Chinese Yam. The taste is mild when added to the broth, so it doesn’t interfere with most recipes. The effects of more energy and wellness can be felt over time.

This soup uses a Rotisserie Chicken. Rotisserie chickens are a common item in my kitchen so I often use them to make bone broth after we’ve pulled off the chicken. This soup starts when the chicken is almost entirely eaten. It takes a few days to make, so the minerals and nutrients can be slowly extracted from the chicken bones. Enjoy this immune boosting soup!


rotisserie chicken Health & Immunity Chinese Herbal Mix by Pearl Apothecary 1 onion cut in half 3 large carrots 2 stems celery 3 cloves garlic 1 T fresh ginger 1/2 cup chopped cilantro salt fresh ground pepper

  1. Make the herb enriched, chicken bone broth:

First pull off and discard all chicken skin. Next, pull off as many little bits of chicken that you can, chop larger pieces, put in a tupperware, and refrigerate until you’re ready to finish the soup. Pull apart the rest of the chicken and carefully chop the long bones in half to expose the marrow. Put bones into a slow cooker or instant pot. Add a splash of vinager and onion. Cook on low for 24-48 hrs. Near the end of cooking, add one bag of Health & Immunity Chinese Herbal Mix and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and strain. Set broth aside.

  1. Chop 3 carrots and 2 stems of celery. Sautee until softened.

  2. Add 3 large cloves of garlic (minced) and 1 Tablespoon ginger. Mix in tupperware full of chicken bits and stir until warm.

  3. Add broth and simmer for 30 mintues.

  4. Use salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

  5. Finish with 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro.

  6. Enjoy!

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition often found in females 20 to 35 years old although it can occur at any age. Less commonly, males can be affected but no matter who it affects or at what age, it can cause misery for many.

Sometimes due to a rebound effect from steroids- either topical, nasal (like flonase) or even steroid inhalers, the symptoms typically start around the mouth, chin or nose. Redness and flaky dry skin can occur with bumps and symptoms can fluctuate from day to day. The symptoms can also spread to the eye lids or around the eyes.

Many things can make Perioral Dermatitis flare including SLS in toothpaste, PMS, harsh skin care products, sunlight, emotions or fragrances. If you’re suffering with Perioral Dermatitis, often it is recommended to stick with plain water to wash your face and use a very simple moisturizer. Years ago I formulated lonicera clearing oil for a patient suffering with this frustrating condition, and it along with internal Chinese herbal medicine helped to heal her skin completely only a few weeks.

In Chinese Medicine, Perioral Dermatitis is due to an imbalance in the liver or excess dampness and toxic heat accumulation in the stomach and spleen. When we treat this condition, we look at at that factors that could have caused this disharmony, the way the skin looks, and any other symptoms in the patient. We then form a diagnosis and precise herbal treatment to address not only the symptoms but also the cause.

Perioral Dermatitis responds very well to correct treatment with Chinese Medicine and often the condition can improve in 2-3 weeks. The herbs taste bad, but they are not to be taken forever and the effects are absolutely worth it!

Dr. Dilks custom blending Chinese Herbal Medicine for a patient.

Dr. Dilks custom blending Chinese Herbal Medicine for a patient.

The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling

The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling
Clarifying Myths & Misinformation

by the American Society of Acupuncturists

Myth #1: Dry Needling is Not Acupuncture

Fact: Dry needling techniques are a subset of techniques used in orthopedic or myofascial acupuncture systems. Dry needling uses acupuncture needles and originators of dry needling identify it as acupuncture. That said, not all techniques being promoted as dry needling would be considered safe and delivered by competent trained acupuncture practitioners; therefore, the public should be wary.

Myth #2: Physical Therapists are Qualified to Perform Acupuncture/Dry Needling Because They Have Advanced Knowledge and Training in Anatomy

Fact: While physical therapists are highly trained experts in their field of physical rehabilitation, their eduction does not effectively include invasive techniques that penetrate the skin surface nor the vast body of information on using needling therapeutically. Licensed acupuncturists must have a degree from an accredited acupuncture school that requires more than 1300 hours of acupuncture specific training for entry-level competency. This includes anatomy relevant to safe acupuncture practice and supervised clinical training. Licensed acupuncturists also receive 450 hours or more of biomedical training. The applicant must subsequently pass five national, psychometrically valid and reliable exams to ensure minimal competency in needling, while the physical therapy community is in promulgating entry into this field with as little as 12-27 hours of unaccredited coursework. This level of disparity in training is likely to lead to patient injury. Additionally, the lack of standards is leading to the rapid expansion of a practice likely to harm more patients than help them.

Myth #3: Dry Needling Has Defined Standards Typical of a Professional Level Practice

Fact: There are no objectively determined standards of education, curriculum, standardized national examination, or requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in place for dry needling. There are no standards for clinical mentorship. In short, there is no current definition of the practice referred to as dry needling and no standardized system of demonstrating either minimal competency or safety.

Myth #4: Dry Needling is Based on Anatomy While Acupuncture is Based on Energy

Fact: Classical acupuncture theory is based on the observation of humans in their environments, and treatment theory therefore reflects real-world situations that lead to injuries or illnesses that are identical to those observed in modern medicine. While classical theory organizes real-world information about the body differently than western science, it nonetheless describes the same organism with the same pathologies, and therefore bases diagnoses and treatments on anatomy which are compatible with western models. Mechanistic models of acupuncture’s effects have been researched along with the effects of acupuncture needle simulation on the nervous system, muscles, and connective tissue. Acupuncture channels reflect clinically observable and anatomically relevant interrelationships between body structures, including kinematic relationships.

Myth #5: Dry Needling Uses Trigger Points—Points That Are Uniquely Sensitive to Touch; Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: It has been estimated that 95% of trigger points correspond to acupuncture points. “Ashi point” needling is acupuncture trigger point needling, and this is described in Chinese medical texts dating from 200 BCE- 200 CE. For over 2000 years, Chinese medicine has treated these painful areas with acupuncture, tai na massage, heat, cupping, gua sha, and other methods. Trigger points are not a new discovery.

Myth #6: Dry Needling Involves Deep Insertion While Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: Many acupuncture points are needled with deep insertion technique. Each acupuncture point has specific indications for how it should be stimulated, and both shallow and deep techniques are used on many points.

Myth #7: The Scientific Literature Provides Evidence Supporting Dry Needling But Not Acupuncture

Fact: Meta-analyses of acupuncture data received a total of 20,827 patients from 39 trials to conclude that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, with treatment effects persisting over time. Acupuncture is currently one of the most widely studied medical interventions, and much of the literature used to justify the clinical legitimacy of dry needling is drawn from acupuncture research studies.

For the full PDF and a list of sources, please click here.

New Hours! More Treatment Rooms! New Practitioners!

We've expanded!

It's been so busy at Emerging Energy renovating our office, but we are feeling settled in and have big news to share!

We now have 3 Doctors of Acupuncture available 6 days per week, an excellent massage therapist, and a holistic esthetician who also performs facial reflexology. (More about Alison and facial reflexology in another post!)

Our latest staff addition is acupuncturist Dr. Charlotte King, who has special training treating children with non-needle techniques. She also treats pain, women's health concerns and more. You can read all about her here. Dr. Charlotte also has extended evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Scheduling is available online!


Dr. Mary Claire Dilks has expanded office hours and is now booking Friday mornings/ lunch, 8:30am-12:30 pm. She also has a new standard poodle puppy, Lucy, who may make an appearance in the office from time to time.

Here at Emerging Energy, we love helping people feel their best. When we feel our best, our spirit shines in the sparkly in our eyes, our skin glows with radiant health, and we can relax and enjoy the moment without worry or stress. We would love to help YOU!

Our private treatment rooms, delicious tea, and serene environment allow you to fully benefit from your acupuncture, massage or facial treatment. Healing begins when our nervous system relaxes, so we think this part is critical in your care.

Call or schedule online today!

Chia Seeds: Why You Should Be Eating This Superfood

Cinnamon Spice Chia Pudding



  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup hot water, nut or seed milk (Omega-3 rich Hemp Milk is my favorite!)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (I use immune boosting Manuka Honey during flu season.)
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Heat liquid in a small sauce pan until warm. Stir in honey.
  3. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir well.
  4. Stir every few minutes until fully gelled 20-30 min. Enjoy!

Chia seeds are literally one of the healthiest tiny foods on the planet. These small, nutrient dense seeds contain one of the largest amounts of plant-based protein PLUS Omega-3s so they make a great addition to a plant-based diet. When exposed to liquid, these seeds gel, so they make a great pudding (think tapioca pudding) or jam.

In fact, one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals like antioxidants and calcium. They are also a great source of Omega-3s which fight inflammation and keep your cell membranes supple.

Did you know these superfoods can help you lose weight?

The fiber in chia seeds is one of its big strengths when it comes to weight loss. One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is that they can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Because if this, they help you feel fuller longer, slow cravings, and can help prolong hydration.

As another bonus for your gut-health, the insoluble fiber acts as a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and ferments into short-chain fatty acids to support gut health. You need PREbiotics to help your PRObiotics work.

Do you have a favorite way to use chia seeds?

The DIY Beauty Treatment You're Missing Out On: Facial Gua Sha

The alluring empresses and concubines in ancient China held many beauty secrets. From beautiful floral waters to herbal masks, to facial massage and steams, skin care was a way of life. We still use many of these time tested techniques today.


One facial massage technique (that you may have never heard of) is on the verge of becoming mainstream. Known as Gua Sha (literally skin scraping), it’s gaining huge popularity with celebrity facialists in the green beauty movement and for good reason.

The benefits of facial Gua Sha include relaxing muscle tension, smoothing the connective tissue, reducing wrinkles, and improving lymphatic flow to decrease puffiness. In 2007, a German study found that Gua Sha improves blood circulation to the skin by over 400%! It instantly rejuvenates the skin cells for a healthy glow.

Do you want to know the best part? You can learn to do it yourself! Facial gua sha uses a flat jade tool to apply a gentle, cooling massage. With the proper technique, you can spend 5-10 minutes after cleansing your skin at night, and you’ll see some incredible benefits over time. You can check out tutorials online or attend a live workshop at Emerging Energy Acupuncture in Providence 12/4! Schedule online today- limited spaces remain.

This post was first published on 3 time "Best of RI" Lifestyle


The Problem of Proton-Pump Inhibitors, the common acid-reflux medication

Recent studies have shown an increased risk of death in people taking the popular over-the-counter acid-reflux medications known as PPIs (proton pump inhibitor) such as omeprazole (Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid). Other studies showing increase risk of stomach infections, heart disease, pneumonia bone fractures and dementia. Dispite their common availablility and heavy advertising, these medications are not meant for long-term use, and getting off these drugs can be harder than you might imagine.

First of all, if you're taking a PPI and want to get off, go see your doctor. Your doctor can decide if it's right for you to go without these drugs, the best way to do it, and what supplements may or may not be good for you.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. They are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion available and lead to a lower pH in the stomach and ultimately in the intestines. This alters the balance of microbes in your gut, which you may know by now is a huge deal when it comes to overall health.

Getting off a PPI can be tricky if you've been on it for a long time. Stopping this medication causes "rebound hypersecretion" because some cells in the stomach undergo hypertrophy as a result of the PPI. Since stomach cells turn over after about two months, the hyper acidity effects shouldn't be permanent, but they will almost definitly cause some discomfort when a person stops taking a PPI.

To limit the discomfort, it can be beneficial to wean off the PPI slowly. In addition, certain supplements can help minimize the effects of hyperacidity. It's generally best if these are started a month before the weaning process.

  • Probiotic: Try adding a probiotic to help build up the benefical flora in your gut. A high quality product is worth the price since the design and technology used in production helps guarantee that whatever strains are in the capsule will actually benefit you.
  • L-Glutamine: Some believe that glutamine may be able to help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle ring that stops acid from rising out of the stomach into the esophagus) in the same way that is helps build and strengthen other muscle tissue in the body, thus eliminating stomach acid from coming back up through the LES and causing heartburn. Glutamine is also capable of repairing and healing mucous membranes, including the lining of the esophagus that may be damaged by ongoing acid erosion.
  • Zinc: This mineral found naturally in crabs, oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy products helps limit the amount of stomach acid the stomach produces.
  • DGL: Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice supports a healthy stomach lining when taken before meals. These tablets are chewed for best results, but sometimes DGL can be found in capsules if you can't stand the taste.

Dietary changes are also beneficial. Generally following a low carb, protein and vegetable rich diet is the most beneficial for healthy digestion. Eat smaller meals until you're about 2/3 full (in other words, stop before you feel full). For the first few months after weaning off a PPI, avoid spicy and acidic food. Don't eat late at night or lay down after meals. If you can't give up your coffee, opt for those with higher proportion of milk like a cappucino or latte to balance the acidity. Cold-Brew, dark roast and decaf also have less acidity.

Incorporating custom blended Chinese Herbs may be beneficial if your digestive problems persist. Since these are custom blended, there isn't just one or two individual herbs to mention. The herbs are blended for your individual problems, to treat not only the symptoms but also the reason why YOU have digestive problems.

Lifestyle and diet are always the best way to maintain balance so they can't be overlooked. Stress management helps digestion as well as everything else, health-wise, so incorporating some healthy habits will benefit more than your stomach. Acupuncture can make a big difference here as well by reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Now I want to hear from you! Have you gotten off a PPI or have any tips for reflux to share?

ps. Don't forget to check with your prescribing doctor first about coming off of any medication!

Why I love treating Skin Disorders

So far, I've finished 3/4 of my Traditional Chinese Medicine Dermatology Diploma course in NYC, and I can say with confidence that I have effectively solutions to treat many skin disorders including Perioral Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Acne, Foot Fungus, Sebborheic Dermatitis, and Eczema. Many joyful moments are shared with patients in my clinic as their skin clears. It never gets old.

My love for Chinese Herbal Dermatology started many years ago. My mother in Michigan was suffering with Psoriasis and nothing seemed to be helping her. Her skin itched so badly that it kept her up all night. She would pace around as a distraction from the itch. Psoriasis affected her legs, torso, and arms, and they it spread to her hands and face. She became so self-consious that she didn't want to go out of the house. It affected her mood as well and I could sense she was becoming depressed. Steroid cream provided temporary relief but as it can permanently thin the skin, it's not a good long-term solution. Immune suppressing medication didn't help. She tried all kinds of elimination diets with no relief. I knew there had to be an answer.

I knew of this Chinese Herbalist in the UK that was world renowned for successfully treating difficult skin disorders and had wanted to take his course since before the birth of my son, 8 years ago. In Chinese Medical School, Dermatology was superficially covered in just one course and didn't really give me the strategies to effectively treat skin problems. Chinese Medical Dermatology books are few and mostly in Chinese, so they only provided limited benefit. So I searched out the treatment methods of the leading expert in the field, herbalist Mazin Al-Khafaji, and worked on a chinese herbal prescription for my mom.

Her Psoriasis was turning erythrodermic, which can be a medical emergency, so I treated her twice per day when I could with acupuncture, gave her topical herbs, and had her drink tea made from raw chinese herbs that she cooked every other day. Her skin gradually improved and six months later, it was clear.

I can't even express the joy (and relief) I felt after hearing about her improvements with every phone call. Her healing path wasn't a strait line; it rarely is. She stuck with her herbs and had a remarkable result.

Now more than two years later, her skin is still clear. Every once in a while, she might have a miniscule flare up with one patch here or there, but she uses topical herbal cream and it settles down quickly.

In 2015 I was able to begin my studies with the master herbalist, Mazin Al-Khafaji and now I can give hope to so many people who suffer with many different skin problems. There are answers, and the best part is that because we treat the root causes of the problem, many times the skin problem won't come back.

Chinese Herbal treatment takes some effort on the part of the patient, but it's so worth it to be free from skin problems that can cause so much suffering. From my mom's case, and my own case of acne which I'll share in a later post, I know how skin problems take a toll on our self-confidence and general mood. So much so that we don't want to leave the house or wear short sleeve shirts. Sometimes we don't even want to acknowledge the problem and it can take years before visiting a specialist. Or we feel defeated once we see a specialist and try treatments that give little or temporary results or make the problem worse.

There is hope. There are answers out there. Sometimes we just need stay open minded, be open to exploring different solutions, and sometimes we just need to hold our nose and chug bitter herbal tea.

Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Self- Care: ACUPRESSURE for Neck and Upper Back Pain

People spend more and more time hunched over keyboards and looking at smart phones, and while we love these technological advances, they wreck havock on our necks and backs! Neck and shoulder pain are some of the most common complaints in our office.

One answer, get blood flowing in the muscles. Keeping blood flowing to your muscles prevents tension and "knots" and can help prevent pain buildin up. Try stepping away from your computer at least every 2 hours, stretch, and walk around. Take a bath at night with epsom salts. Use a microwavable heat pack. Get a massage. (Have you had an appointment with our massage therapist, Christine Cummings? She works wonders on sore necks and backs). If you can't make it in for a massage, or in between massages or acupuncture treatments, try acupressure at home.

Acupressure is a form of massage that involves pressure applied to specific acupuncture points. Different points have different functions and can be used for different ailments. Some points are used in a local area for a specific problem. For example, in the neck, there are a number of points used for pain. Other points, called distal points, affect an area of pain from far away.

If you press along a muscle and find a sore point, it's is called an "Ashi" point. If you find an ashi point, it may help ease pain to apply pressure to this point for a few minutes.

There are many useful points in the treatment of upper back and neck pain but here are two simple and effective points you can try at home. Always consult your doctor if you have pain that isn't going away as it can be a sign of something more serious.

  • GB 20 -- just under the base of the skull in two small muscular grooves at the back of the neck (green dot on image)
  • GB 21 -- on top of the shoulder, 2"-3" from the side of the neck (yellow dot on image)

Apply firm pressure to these two points for 5 seconds, first GB-20, then GB-21, then repeat for 2- 3 minutes. It may best to do this treatment a few times per day at first. Direct pressure downward at GB-21 should be avoided on any woman who may be pregnant, as this point has a strong downward effect and is used to induce labor.

Also consider emotional causes of neck and shoulder pain- Are you overthinking and is there too much energy in your head? Trying to bear the weight of the world like Atlas? Worrying and grinding your teeth at night? All of these things can contribute to neck and shoulder pain. Consulting a good therapist helps.

If neck and shoulder tension continues to be a problem for you, it may be best to seek medical attention as these symptoms could be signs of serious medical conditions!