Blog by Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Winter And Traditional Chinese Medicine

Winter has no doubt arrived in Pittsburgh! With the temperatures below freezing for a week and counting, I think it's time to discuss winter, traditional Chinese medicine, and ways to keep warm!

Winter is the time of year which corresponds the water element. In our bodies, that relates to our Kidneys and Bladder. In five element theory, the color correspondence is black or blue, and the emotion is fear.

Symptoms which may be associated with the Water element include

  • bladder and/or kidney infections
  • low back pain
  • knee pain
  • cavities in teeth
  • weak or broken bones
  • infertility
  • premature gray hair or hair loss
  • ringing in the ears
  • increase of phobias or fears

To strengthen the Water energy and keep the body in balance, it's important to keep yourself warm. Wear scarves around your neck and extra layers or scarves around your mid-section (in Japan, this is called a haramaki, or belly warmer: a tube of material which can be fashionable, which goes around your midsection to keep your abdomen and kidneys warm.)

If you are on a high raw or 100% raw food diet, you can add spices such as ginger to your juices and cinnamon to your foods. You can gently warm soups, and make sure to eat plenty of well blended food, as these meals are easier to digest. Fresh cranberries also make a nice addition to juices or purees this time of year, and help protect the bladder and kidneys from infection as well (especially if you are prone to this type of infection.)

Here is one of my favorite winter juice recipes:

Juice the following:

  • 5 carrots
  • 3 apples
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger

I usually add water to the juice, especially because this one is so sweet.

Warm miso soup is also a wonderful meal: heat the water and let it cool back down to ninety or one hundred degrees (warm to the touch.) Add scallions, sliced mushrooms, wakame (a sea vegetable), grated ginger and carrots, and miso, which is best first made into a paste with warm water and then added to the soup. Enjoy this soup warm.

In macrobiotic cooking, aduki beans and black beans are beneficial for the kidneys. Millet and winter squash are also good choices for balancing energy this time of year.

Herbs which benefit the kidneys are nettleshe shou wu (also known as Foti root), and the formula Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, or Rehmannia Six.

Now is a wonderful time of year to get acupuncture, especially if you notice any of the above symptoms. Points such as K3 and K6 on the ankle are helpful to boost the Kidney energy, as well as bladder points along the spine on the back. Moxibustion is wonderful this time of year to help add heat to the body via the acu-points, abdomen and meridians.

As always, we are happy to answer your questions. Please comment below, email us at or give us a call (412) 381-0116.

David is now seeing clients in the North Hills, at St. Barnabas Health Center (lots of FREE parking!!!) in addition to our regular South Side location, so give us a call today!

Stay cozy and warm!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Give The Gift Of Health Today

Happy Holidays!!!

Photo:, free for personal and commercial use

Give the gift of health this holiday season! 

Give the gift of one acupuncture session, or a series of four acupuncture sessions (at a discounted price!) for yourself or someone you love this season. You can either pick up the gift at the office (or have it there waiting for them,) or have it shipped to you or directly to the person you are gifting, just let us know with the options below, and provide the address in the note when paying.

Perfect way to ease the stress of the season and help yourself or someone else achieve optimum health and well-being.

Choose Services and/or Amount
Pick Up or Ship


Give us a call or text directly: (412) 381-0116.

Thanks so much, and have a wonderful holiday season!!

Much Love and Joy This Season and Always,

David and Melissa Sokulski
The Birch Center For Health

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Birch Center 2017 Review

It was so nice seeing you at the Birch Center in 2017!

Birch Center acupuncturist David Sokulski continued seeing acupuncture clients both at our South Side office and in his new location in Gibsonia, at St. Barnabas Health Center (open to the public.)

It's fun to sit down together and review our year, highlighting some of the top moments. I hope you take the time to do it for your year as well! Here are some of this year's highlights we came up with:

1. At the beginning of 2017, Dave and I went to Pittsburgh's Fermentation Festival at Spirit in Lawrenceville, where we took a workshop on making no knead sourdough bread, and hung out with friend Jenneta from Prescription Foods. We were inspired to bake delicious sourdough bread, make our own sauerkraut and kimchi, and brew bubbly kombucha throughout the year. Yum...and so good for you!

2. Spring arrived and Frick Park's Earth Day Celebration moved back to Beechwood Blvd for the unveiling of the NEW Environmental Center! It was an exciting day, and we found lots and lots of wild edibles, including dandelion, clover, burdock, chickweed, cleavers, violet, and so many more!

3. Birch Center acupuncturist Melissa Sokulski spent a weekend in June at the Satchidananda Ashram - Yogaville - meditating, writing, doing yoga, and nourishing herself with healthy, delicious, vegetarian food.

4. Birch Center acupuncturist David Sokulski continued providing acupuncture at Three Rivers Free Clinic for the People, which was mostly held at the Union Project the first Wednesday of each month, though sometimes the location moved around a bit.

5. David also had lots of speaking appearances and offered acupuncture demonstrations this year to people as diverse as Fed Ex employees to Duquesne nursing students.

6. In September we traveled west, and we harvested and enjoyed fresh prickly pear fruit for the first time in Sedona, AZ! Yum!

7. We tried lots of vegan restaurants all around the country, from Maryland to Ohio to Nevada to Arizona! Some of the highlights were:

And in Pittsburgh we tried some new vegan restaurants as well:

And our tried and true favorite brunch spot:

8. We were written about in newsletters and websites around Pittsburgh including St. Barnabas's Health Network and South Side Slopes summer newsletter (scroll to page 5 to find us!)

That's about it! We have big plans for 2018, including a YouTube channel promoting health and wellness. We hope you'll stay tuned.

Stay healthy this winter! If you want to come in for acupuncture, just give us a call or text, we'd love to see you!  (412) 381-0116

We also have gift certificates available; they make great gifts to friends, loved ones, even yourself! Give the gift of health this year. You can find all the information here.

Happy Holidays!

~ David and Melissa Sokulski

Birch Center for Health

(412) 381-0116

photo credits: 
kombucha - (free stock photos)
LOTUS (Light Of The Universal Shrine) Temple in Yogaville - Sokulski, 2017
prickly pear - Sokulski, 2017
vegan breakfast at Glory Doughnuts - Sokulski, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Read About The Birch Center in South Side Slopes Newsletter!

Not only is the Birch Center located in Pittsburgh's beautiful south side, acupuncturists and owners David and Melissa Sokulski also live in the south side, right up the hill!

This summer, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's newsletter featured a story on the Sokulski family and the Birch Center, and you can read about it here (scroll down to page five!)

And if clicking links is not your thing, I'll paste the article below:

Slopes residents, state-licensed acupuncturists, and husband and wife team David and Melissa Sokulski have been treating patients for conditions ranging from high blood pressure to depression in their East Carson Street health center, The Birch Center, since 2005. Time-tested for thousands of years, acupuncture is known around the world for its safety and effectiveness. Not only can treatment help balance the body's energy, allowing one to heal from pain and illness, but acupuncture can also be used to help prevent disease and optimize health and vitality.

David and Melissa treat people from all walks of life and all ages, including professional athletes, dancers, and musicians. They bring a wealth of knowledge to their clients and are also experts in wild edibles, leading walks throughout the city. Melissa recently won a grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council for writing, and she writes The Birch Center blog as well as monthly newsletters which help people lead healthy lives. David treats people at the office most weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and can answer any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

The Birch Center | 1931 E. Carson Street | Pittsburgh, PA 15203 | 412.381.0116

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Acupuncture Alleviates Autumn Ailments :-)

photo:, public domain

Autumn is here! Cooler weather, windy days, beautiful leaves coloring our landscape.

At the Birch Center we are seeing lots of manifestations of the season: lung related ailments.

In Chinese Medicine, the season autumn relates to the metal element, which corresponds in the body to the Lungs and Large Intestine. People are noticing:
  • asthma flair-ups
  • colds and flu
  • increase in allergies
  • pneumonia
  • coughs and bronchitis
  • eczema and skin ailments
  • IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) flair-ups
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Fall is also a time of year when anything can make a comeback: old injuries, joint pain, sleeplessness, fatigue. It is a great time of year to come in for a treatment, whether for something specific or a tune-up! (We recommend acupuncture "tune-ups" at the change of seasons to clients who either have been in before and had their issue resolved as a way to maintain balance and optimal health, and also for people curious about acupuncture but who have no specific ailments.)

Come on in and see us today. For an appointment call or text message head acupuncturist David Sokulski at (412) 381-0116. He is also happy to answer any questions you have about acupuncture.

You can also send him an email at

Thanks so much and we hope you are enjoying the beautiful autumn!

In health,

David Sokulski

licensed acupuncturist

Birch Center for Health
1931 East Carson Street, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh PA 15203

(412) 381-0116