Blog by Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

In Memory of Acupuncturist David Sokulski


David Edward Sokulski, age 50, passed away suddenly in Pittsburgh, PA, on Monday, January 7, 2019.

David was born on June 13, 1968 in Pittsburgh, to Edward and Rita (Estu) Sokulski. David graduated Plum High School in 1986, then earned a degree in Chemistry from Duquesne University in 1990. In 1995 he spent a year teaching English in South Korea, and returned to the United States to earn a Masters Degree in Acupuncture from the New England School of Acupuncture, then in Watertown MA, in 1999. That same year he married Melissa Oliphant, also an acupuncturist, and his first daughter, Molly Sara Sokulski, was born. Together in 2000, they returned to Pittsburgh. In 2004 David and Melissa had their second daughter, Ella Dara, and in 2005 opened the Birch Center for Health on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

In 2007, David was preceded in death by his daughter Molly, then 8 years old.

father daughter

David was a valued member of the community, quick to help others any way he could. He was friendly and outgoing.

David is survived by his wife Melissa; daughter Ella, 14; sister Sharon Mannella and her husband David; and parents Rita and Edward.

The Birch Center is closed indefinitely.

Rest in Peace, my love.

board with pictures

Monday, November 12, 2018

Acupuncture Helps People With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


The days are getting shorter and we are losing the light earlier each evening. Many people are so effected by the loss of the sun that their daily lives suffer. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities 
  • Low energy
  • Problems with sleeping, such as oversleeping or insomnia
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Acupuncture offers relief of these symptoms, by helping to balance out the qi (pronounced "chee") of the body.

"Many people think of acupuncture in terms of pain relief, and it is amazing for that," says Birch Center acupuncturist David Sokulski. "But another thing acupuncture excels in treating is mood disorders, like anxiety, depression, and SAD."

According to Scientific American, in the article Can Acupuncture Treat Depression (July1, 2014), research has proven that six weeks of acupuncture treatments were just as effective as six weeks on Prosac in reducing symptoms of depression. In fact, according to the article, acupuncture worked faster in reducing symptoms than the drug did. A higher percentage of acupuncture patients said they received "great improvement."

"Depression is nothing to mess with," says Mr. Sokulski, "and these Pittsburgh winters can be hard. We have seen a lot of great results in treating people with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. People enjoy winter - and their lives - again."

Further reading:

David Sokulski, L.Ac.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Free Ear Acupuncture Treatments in Response to Tragedy at Tree of Life


Our hearts are heavy after the horrible shooting in Squirrel Hill over the weekend. We lost eleven friends and neighbors. May their memories be a blessing.

My daughter was in Hebrew School at Dor Hadash - one of the three congregations which met at Tree of Life. They are a loving, welcoming, joyous, and wonderful congregation, as were the others who met at Tree of Life. We were there not long ago to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter's friend.

The outpouring of love and togetherness from Pittsburgh is what this city is all about. From the memorial Saturday night organized by students of the local public high school, to the service on Sunday where leaders of all faiths came together, to the beautiful flowers, fundraisers, and offers from all around the city.

In the spirit of healing, the Birch Center is offering free ear acupuncture treatments Tuesday October 30, Wednesday October 31, and Thursday November 1, by appointment: (412) 381-0116.  Everyone is welcome.

Ear treatments relieve shock, stress, and anxiety, balance the nervous and hormonal systems, and help deal with grief, fear, and anger. Please spread the word and give us a call. We are located on Pittsburgh's south side.

Also, if you are on facebook, follow our facebook page, where I will post updates of all the offers I can find, from free community acupuncture to reiki, to nature walks. I will share anything I hear that may be of help.

Please call us if you'd like to come in for a free ear acupuncture treatment. They are amazing and as our friend Amanda shared this morning on facebook, "Ear treatments have been incredibly helpful for me during bouts of stress and anxiety."

Shalom. Peace. Shanti.

Love to all,

Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Your Health in Autumn


The ancient Chinese text, The Inner Classic, says:
The forces of Autumn create dryness in Heaven and metal on Earth, they create the lung organ and the skin upon the body...and the nose, and the white color, and the pungent flavor...the emotion grief, and the ability to make a weeping sound.
The energy of fall is downward and inward. We can see this as we watch leaves fall from the trees and seeds dropping from plants. Grasses and leaves lose their bright green color. Sap from trees go back to the roots to be stored for the winter. The plants dry out.

As the season cools, we put more heat and energy into our foods, cooking soups and stews, roasting root vegetables. We smell delicious odors of cooking food (the nose relates to the Lungs, which relates to the Metal element and the autumn.)

Dryness prevails in the fall season, and this can have an effect on our health. We may notice thirst, dryness in skin, lips, throat, and itchy skin conditions. We can also develop cough and allergies more easily this time of year. Because the lungs open on the nose, we also may experience conditions in our sinuses and air passageways this time of year.

Meditation and breath practices (which are called pranayama in the yogic tradition) are beneficial this time of year. Taking time to slow down and focus on our breathing can be helpful. Eating foods like beans and grains, which absorb a lot of water in cooking, is also helpful.

Acupuncture is excellent to help balance dryness and boost the energy of the lungs (and large intestine, its related organ). Lung and large intestine points are paired with other points to balance energy in the body helping to clear cough, allergies, skin conditions, increase energy, and help sleep this time of year.

Autumn is also the season of grief and sadness, which also relates to the lungs. When we realize that this is the time of year of contraction and inward focus, we get clues on how to deal with the grief that arises. We are encouraged to look within, focus internally, and share our feelings with others when helpful. Acupuncture works to balance the mind and spirit as well as body.

Autumn is a wonderful time of year to start or return to acupuncture treatments.

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.
Birch Center for Acupuncture
South Side, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203

References: Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fall Feng Shui Challenge: Clear Clutter

feng shui challenge cover

Let's celebrate fall with Feng Shui! Feng Shui is a Chinese practice of creating harmonious surroundings to bring good energy flow to your home, and health, love, and prosperity to your life. This is an over-simplified definition; there is quite a lot to Feng Shui. People study for years under masters and still only scratch the surface. However one thing is certain: even if your door faces the right direction, your walls are the correct color, you have mirrors and fountains just where they are meant to be, if you have clutter clogging up your home, energy cannot move through and none of it matters (well, it matters less anyway.)

This year, autumn officially starts September 22, but I wanted a nice round number (10) so I'm going to start a day early -  September 21.

So for the next 10 days: September 21 through 30, I'm going to challenge myself to CLEAR THE CLUTTER FROM MY HOME, one space at a time. I hope you will join me! I'll post an update a day, and if you feel moved, please comment and let me know what you have been doing too.

Can't get motivated? Feeling stuck? Acupuncture is a great way to balance your energy and get it flowing!

Hope to see you soon, and happy decluttering!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.