Chinese medicine is a system that was designed as a preventive medical intervention and can be utilized to maintain energy and promote healing by natural means throughout one's lifetime. There are five pillars of Chinese medicine (acupuncture being the most widely known); the other four are nutritional and herbal medicine; exercise and meditation; physical manipulation (through massage); and feng shui (practitioners may focus on only one or multiple pillars in their practices). Fundamentally, the goal of Chinese medicine is to balance the disharmony that is present within a patient's body or mind and to bring about change and healing – righting a ship that is off course. A Chinese medical practitioner is looking for patterns of imbalance and then works with the patient to correct this, employing needles, herbs, massage and nutritional guidance.
In western medical terms, the practitioner is using therapies to turn off the “fight or flight” nervous system; induce relaxation; reduce inflammation; relieve pain; and restore homeostasis. Studies on the mechanism and efficacy of acupuncture support the benefits of this ancient medicine:
*it stimulates the release of natural opioids, which affect changes in the autonomic nervous system and reduces pain. *it activates specific receptors that inhibit transmission of painful stimuli. *and it stimulates the release of specific neurotransmitters that affect the immune system. Everybody responds to acupuncture differently. Some patients may respond well with fewer visits, while others may need a longer course; this depends on the severity and the chronic nature of the chief complaint. Specific results/outcomes can't be predicted, but I have seen how regular treatments and self-care habits produce positive results for my patients.
Adult acupuncture - initial visit: Allow 70 minutes for the initial meeting, which includes the intake process and treatment session with acupuncture needles and/or other therapies. The intake paper work and conversation helps me to understand your health picture, lifestyle, and specific goals. I will outline the course of treatment (length and frequency) and make recommendations for follow up and self-care strategies.
Adult follow-up appointments: Subsequent appointments are 50 minutes and the intake process is quicker. I will be monitoring progress of symptoms and noting improvements in condition.
Manual therapy-focused appointments: I offer patients 30-minute sessions utilizing cupping andtuina massage, a form of Chinese-style massage that can ease pain and stiffness. This style of massage focuses on increasing blood flow and improving mobility through repetitive massage techniques and stretching. I use acupuncture as well, specifically head and ear points.
Pediatric acupuncture: Treatments for children involve shonishin, a specialized treatment method for infants and young children that uses specific tools; tuina massage; and moxa, a Chinese herb that is heated and used indirectly on regions of the body (especially beneficial for ear infections and digestive disturbances). Small facial-type needles may also be utilized, but usually not at the first visit. Visits are 45 minutes (not including health history information and intake paper work that parents provide prior to an appointment).
Herbal/nutritional consultations: The herbal consultations are 40-minute appointments that focus on treating specific conditions without using acupuncture; a brief intake and conversation helps pin point symptoms and clarifies the clinical diagnosis. For those considering nutritional/dietary changes, the consult involves discussion of current dietary habits and ways to use food as a therapeutic tool to help improve digestion and meet the body's nutritional needs.
Herbal medicine: An acute condition, such as a UTI, digestive upset, or cold symptoms may warrant an immediate prescription, however I generally like to see how a patient responds to an acupuncture treatment first before recommending a course of herbs. I would also consider nutritional changes and supplements as part of the overall treatment plan, but this too depends on a patient's therapeutic progress.
If you wish to learn more about Chinese medicine and the methods that practitioners utilize, take a look at the new patient handout.