Acupuncture and Asian Medicine
In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of 40 commonly encountered clinical disorders that acupuncture effectively treats. In 1997, research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed this list of conditions.
[[ Acupuncture: NIH Consens Statement 1997 Nov 3-5; 15(5): p 10.]]
They found Acupuncture useful in treating: pain disorders, women’s health issues, chronic and acute diseases, structural imbalances and addictions.
in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, in postoperative dental pain, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome
This safe and ancient medical system has been used to treat both chronic and acute conditions for over 6000 years. It seeks not only to treat dis-ease in the body and mind but to improve overall health and vitality.
The tiny, hair-like, solid, sterile needles are inserted into acupuncture points. The intent is to contact Qi, vital life force energy. It is this Qi, or energy, that causes our bodies to move. Qi is what enables our vital organs to function like the beating of our hearts, blood pumping through our veins, nerve signals being sent from our brain to our limbs and vice versa, our respiration, digestion of our food and elimination of toxins via our kidneys, intestines, liver and skin. Even on a cellular level we experience Qi in the form of energy production via the mitochondria, and other forms of basic metabolic function.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)/Acupuncture is based on the energetic model of balance between Yin and Yang and the Five Elements.(Explanations below) However, the advances in Western science allow us to better understand and define acupuncture in very legitimate biomedical terms. Just like we have blood vessels and lymphatic channels of flow we also have a meridian system in which lay channels of energy. These channels or vessels run to and from our fingers and toes, up through our torso, crossing the body at points, traversing fascia, muscles and organs and terminating at the head. Half of the vessels begin at the head and end on a limb and the others begin at the end of the limb and end at the head. Each meridian is named for a specific organ it passes through and strongly affects. It is on these channels that we locate the acupuncture points. And it is here we contact the Qi, our vital life-force energy. There are hundreds of acupuncture points all over the body. The ear contains about 200 points alone.
Each acupuncture point has a very specific function- action and indication. By stimulating an acupuncture point, the practitioner stimulates the nervous and immune systems to inhibit pain and resolve disease processes. Points are utilized all over the body, even on the ears. Some points affect distal aspects of the body while others work locally. Certain points work to clear heat, thereby affecting infections, fevers, redness, and inflammation. Other points act as an analgesic and can halt pain by stimulating the brain to release endorphins. Some impact-modulate immune function. And others can tonify or nourish someone when they feel fatigue or have weakness.
Acupuncture is both relaxing and rejuvenating!
Great study and skill is required to learn proper insertion and withdrawal techniques, the depth of needle insertion, specific manipulation techniques, and point location and are therefore applied by a licensed, board certified Acupuncturist. Other clinicians, unlicensed and not board certified in Acupuncture and Asian Medicine lack proper education to perform safe and effective dry needling, so please be an informed consumer. Dry needling, done by physical therapists or chiropractors, is dangerous and has caused serious injury. Please only receive needling by a licensed and nationally board certified Acupuncturist.
How I Evaluate You: Pulse and Tongue Diagnosis
In TCM I utilize extensive pulse and tongue diagnosis to help assess your health, emotional state, and nutritional status. I utilize both Chinese and Korean pulse diagnosing techniques. I will take your pulses on each wrist, using three finger placements on each. Each pulse, under each of my three fingers, has 5 depths we feel into. Each placement and depth is connected to pulses of various organs and meridians which gives me a lot of information about your health and guides treatment. I also examine your tongue. In TCM I map your internal organs on your tongue and can discern which organs are in or out of balance. It’s best to have eaten before you receive a session but please don’t scrape your tongue, I want to see it in it’s natural state.
I will also perform a lengthy intake consultation with you which requires you to fill out all of my intake forms prior to our session. Speaking with you, asking you questions and receiving your answers also gives me vital information which informs how we will continue to work together. Over the last two plus decades of sharing healthcare, I’ve learned that it’s this deeper level of connection and trust building that is important for your healing process. I’m not going to simply chat for 5 minutes, throw some acupuncture needles in you, and leave the room to work on someone else. Although this common practice can still be of great benefit, I appreciate and offer a deeper therapeutic process,
I believe you deserve it.
The Meridian System
In addition to chi (Qi), Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes a subtle energy system by which chi (Qi) is circulated through the body. This transportation system is referred to as the channels, meridians, or vessels. There are twelve main meridians in the body, six yin and six yang, and each relates to one of the Zangfu , or organs. A Yin and Yang organ are paired and correlate to each of the 5 Elements, they are: Heart and Small Intestine, Pericardium and San Jiao, Stomach and Spleen, Lung and Large Intestine, Kidney and Urinary Bladder, Liver and Gall Bladder. There are also Eight Extraordinary channels. The specific meridians belonging to the “Eight Extras” which do not correlate to a particular organ but impact all of them are: (1) Du Mai (Governing Vessel), (2) Ren Mai (Conception Vessel), (3) Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel), (4) Dai Mai (Belt Channel), (5) Yang Chiao Mai (Yang Motility Channel), (6) Yin Chaio Mai (Yin Motility Channel), (7) Yang Wei Mai (Yang Regulating Channel), and (8) Yin Wei Mai (Yin Regulating Channel).
Yin & Yang in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medicine, health is represented as a balance of yin and yang. These two forces represent the bipolar manifestation of all things in nature, and because of this, one must be present to allow the other to exist. Hence, where there is above there is below, whatever has a front also has a back, night is followed by day, etc. On an emotional level, one experiences joy because they have experienced some form of pain, so they can appreciate and recognize the opposite. Metaphysically, joy and pain can be two sides of the same coin.
It is important to note that the balance of yin and yang is not always exact, even when the body is healthy. Under normal circumstances the balance is in a state of constant change, based on both the external and internal environment.
For example, during times of anger, a person’s mood is more fiery, or yang, and yet once the anger has subsided, and a quiet peaceful state is achieved, yin may dominate. This shift in the balance of yin and yang is very natural. It is when the balance is consistently altered, and either yin or yang regularly dominates the other, that health is compromised, resulting in illness and disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners can determine the exact nature of the imbalance, and then correct it through the use of acupuncture, herbal remedies, tui na, exercise, diet and lifestyle. As balance is restored in the body and mind, so is health.
TCM and Asian medicine acknowledges and honors the elements in nature and their influences on our bodies, minds, and spirits. These elements are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. These differ slightly from the Native American’s honoring of elements, which include wind. Each element offers gifts that if taken off balance, will cause imbalance. The intimate connection we have with nature is an important aspect of Asian medicine and influences treatment plans. Each element is associated to a time of day (the Horary clock), an emotion, an organ, a taste (sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter), a direction, a season, a color, and a sense body organ (eyes, ears, tongue, nose, mouth) to name but a few. An illness that only occurs during a certain time of year or season or to a particular aspect of the body, or time of day can offer the practitioner deeper insight into the root causes of the symptom and deeper imbalances. Likewise, the qualities of symptoms (hot, cold, dry, and moist to name a few) also give us clues as to which element is out of balance.