For the Chinese and other like-minded individuals, it’s simple. Acupuncture works because it moves the Qi and blood within the body. One of the most important precepts of Chinese Medical theory states, “Where there is a free flow of Qi and Blood, there is no pain or dysfunction. Where there is no free flow of Qi and Blood, there is pain and dysfunction.”
If that’s the case, how do Qi and Blood become disordered?
Qi is the functional force that moves blood and “gets things done” within the Chinese body. It may become negatively affected in some of the following common ways:
*Repetitive strain disorder
*Climactic factors/wind, cold, damp, dryness, heat
*Nutritional insults/poor diet, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, etc..
*Disordered & imbalanced emotional states/anger and depression in particular
*Personal habits/overwork, overeating, too much sex (for men it’s a problem )
I’ve heard about Tai Qi and Qi Gong. What do these do for people?
They are “core level” practices within Chinese medicine related to the warming,
stretching and healing of the body. They help move the Qi and blood along their
meridian pathways, thus promoting a healthy body, mind and spirit. When practiced
along with acupuncture they enhance acupuncture’s beneficial effects thus helping
regulate normal body functions.
OK. I don’t necessarily believe that the movement of “Qi and Blood” are the reason acupuncture works. What is the western biomedical explanation for how acupuncture produces its effects?
*It inhibits the secretion of the neurotransmitter “Substance P” along ascending pain
sensory pathways to the brain, effectively “gating out” painful stimuli at the level of
the dorsal root ganglion in the spinal cord where the cell bodies of sensory neurons
are located. (The Melzak and Walls, MDs hypothesis)
*It facilitates the release of serotonin, dopamine, GABA and other inhibitory central
nervous system neuropeptides which translates into a happier, pain free affect.
*It affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis thus affecting hormonal and
metabolic functions within the body.
*It exerts its visceral effects on the tissues of the body via the glial cell – neuroendocrine
pathway hypothesis of Richard Gerber, MD.
*It stimulates the activity of certain immune system cells and supportive cells (fibroblasts
and fibrocytes) within connective tissue matrix.
*It produces muscle fasciculation which ultimately relaxes hypertonic muscle and connective tissue.
What is Chinese herbal medicine? And is it safe?
Chinese herbal medicine is a nearly five thousand year old practice of imbibing
special naturally derived medicinal substances as contained within the Chinese
Materia Medica, that when taken in combination with each other – most Chinese
herbal formulas contain at least four different medicinal agents – accentuate the
positive effects of each, while diminishing any unwanted side effects. When properly employed, it is the oldest, safest system of internal medicinals in the world. Western allopathic medicine cannot make that claim.
What is Chinese nutritional therapy?
Chinese nutrition therapy involves the inclusion or omission of certain food
items which are known to affect the state of Qi and Blood within the body,
down to the specificity of which internal organ(s) may be positively affected.
It is often used in conjunction with Chinese herbal formulas for the resolution
of internal disorders, as well as promoting overall maintenance of good health.
Does acupuncture hurt? Let’s get real here…
When an acupuncture needle pierces the surface of the skin, it typically inserts to
a moderate depth within the connective tissue. Most often, the patient experiences
an initial pricking sensation which gives way to a feeling of pressure and warmth.
The ancient Chinese texts called this “De Qi,” or “The arrival of Qi” to the point. Most
patients do not find this sensation painful or uncomfortable. The needles are made of surgical grade stainless steel, very thin in diameter, solid – thus not ripping of tissue like a hypodermic needle, presterilized and disposable. Counter-intuitively, a quicker,
faster, deeper insertion produces less of a “De Qi” sensation than one more superficially
What is moxibustion? How does it feel?
Moxibustion is the smoldering of a medicinal herb – artemesia vulgaris – on the handle of a needle, or on the protected skin of a patient to induce an even greater movement of Qi than would be produced by an acupuncture needle alone. It is often used for internal conditions and to tonify the overall Qi of the body. It warms the point and feels quite comfortable. Many patients report loving the feeling of moxibustion.
What is cupping? Why did Gwenyth Paltrow look like that?
Perhaps it was a publicity stunt? Cupping involves the application of
hollow glass spheres onto the protected skin of the patient, each cup creating a vacuum
which pulls skin, connective tissue and muscle up into the cup. The cup is then moved
around the skin, resulting in a greater flow of Qi and Blood to the local area, thus relieving pain and loosening up the tissues. It is often applied to muscular adhesions as well as areas of chronic stress and “stagnation,” within Oriental medical theory.
What is Gua Sha? Why on earth would I want to look like that?
When Qi and Blood get “stuck” in chronically tight muscle and connective tissue,
“Sha” results. Cupping is one way to relieve the “Sha”. Another method is to
“Gua” it away. A base of protective liniment is applied to the skin, and the practitioner
brushes the area with a porcelain soup spoon, or other suitable device. In western medical terms, the capillary beds are broken underneath the skin resulting in varying
degrees of ecchymosis or bruising. New blood and the Qi that carries it will slowly
repair the local tissues producing a healthier metabolic state than previously found, and relieve tightness and pain. It looks unusual, but feels great, especially starting a few days after its application.
What is a typical course of treatment like?
Many simple neuromuscular complaints of healthy individuals may resolve
within two to four visits, especially when combined with other proactive modalities
like Pilates, Yoga, Stretching, Qi Gong & Tai Qi. Internal disorders typically take
longer periods of time to shift into healthier patterns of organ functioning and thus usually require longer periods of treatment, along with Chinese herbal medicine, to successfully resolve.
Does insurance pay for treatment?
It may. Check with your health insurance carrier to determine if acupuncture is a covered benefit under your specific health plan. Some employers provide flex accounts that reimburse employees for out of pocket health care costs. As an independent self-employed practitioner, I am not a participating provider under any insurance plan and thus operate on a fee for service basis, with payment made at the time of treatment. I do offer “Superbill receipts” and gladly offer any other paperwork that may help patients obtain reimbursement for their expenses.
Why should I come to see you as opposed to another practitioner?
Because I’m good, with far more western biomedical knowledge than many other acupuncturists/herbalists. I truly care for you, taking the time to listen and treat, if desired, the totality of your complaints. When I don’t think I can help sufficiently, I refer out to a host of western medical specialists including many other complementary providers. That being said, the dynamics of the patient-practitioner relationship are
individual to every person I see. I strive to meet and exceed patients’ expectations of my care for them.
How would acupuncture support my goals for which I do Pilates, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique and Gyrotonic?
Great question! Whether on the “Reformer,” “Allegro” or simply doing mechanically unassisted Pilates work, the goals are typically to tone muscles, improve posture, repair and prevent injuries while engaging in a low impact, full body workout that also reduces mental and physical stress. In Pilates, the “tree can only bend as well as the trunk supports the whole tree”. In Chinese medicine the “trunk” of the body is not only its core structural center (abdominals and axial skeleton) but the energetic “Tan Dien” a point a thumb and a half width’s inferior to the umbilicus, or belly button. Furthermore, the energetic flow of Qi and Blood is found deepest and most significantly in the “Jing” level of the body – the Chinese “core” – with its extraordinary meridian pathways from which the regular organs in turn get their Qi and Blood. (i.e. Chong mo, Ren mo, Yin Wei mo, Dai mo support the Kidney, Liver and Spleen meridians that nourish the uterus, ovaries and vagina for women.) The “Ying level” of the Chinese body relates to the twelve organs found within, i.e. Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, San Jiao, Gall Bladder and Liver. The “Wei Level” of the Chinese body relates to the muscles, tendons and surface energetics that prevent external pernicious influences from penetrating the body and causing illness and disease. Fasciculation type needling releases hypertonic muscle, providing healthier tone, flexibility and range-of-motion. Acupuncture needles, especially auricular (ear) needles, also release endorphins, enkephalins, and appear to raise serotonin levels in the central nervous system, resulting in a happier, more stress free affect. Acupuncture also acts as an analgesic at the source myofascial pain, simultaneously reducing inflammation and speeding up the repair of soft tissue that has been injured. Pilates’ emphasis on breathing, along with therapeutic movement, also reduces stress and helps injured soft tissue heal faster.