Acupuncture is actually just one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); however, it is the most widely know aspect in the United States. The idea of using needles to improve your health or relieve pain can be both captivating and terrifying, but for those who have experienced its efficacy, they find that acupuncture needles (as thin as a human hair) often do not cause pain. Many have found practitioners with very gentle, yet effective, needling techniques, and have become confirmed believers. Today, more and more people are finding their way to holistic clinics (such as our Lotus Blossom Clinic in Fort Myers Florida). And they are getting great results.
Acupuncture has been around for more than a thousand years as part of TCM, and it is considered a form of Natural Medicine. Although it is not clear where or how it started, over this extended period of time, the techniques and procedures have been constantly improved. Even today, research continues to improve this medicine…to evolve it…to become more tuned to the needs of modern society.
In 1972 President Richard Nixon went to China to establish Diplomatic Relations relations between our two countries. One member of his delegation, his own physician, along with Mrs. Nixon, observed an open heart surgery being performed with no anesthesia. Acupuncture was being used instead, and it was obviously working. This was a surprising and shocking discovery; and soon, acupuncture became accepted in the United States as a validated medical practice.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine is the oldest, professional, continually-practiced, literate medicine in the world. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) literature stretches back almost 2,500 years. Currently 1/4 of the world’s population makes use of it.
TCM has been documented by the best educated and brightest scholars in Chinese history. These scholars recorded their theories and clinical experiences from generation to generation.
It is estimated that there are between 30,000-40,000 books on Chinese Medicine still in existence which were written before the turn of the century. Since then, thousands more books and articles in professional journals have been written and published in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Meridians – By stimulation of points on pathways in your body called “meridians” your body can be put back into balance, resulting in pain relief, stronger immunity, and healing. It has significant use for all ages and aspects of life, including fertility and pregnancy issues. It is also generally effective to help reverse many effects caused by strokes, especially when performed relatively soon after occurrence. This can mean days or weeks, but can still be effective for about a year, with the best effects received when acupuncture is received within days or weeks after the stroke.
We also practice acupressure in our Fort Myers office. This involves stimulating points on your body using pressure, usually with the fingers. This is used when patients are afraid of needles and often for children who are also often afraid of needles. And, it can be very effective! However it is limited because the pressure is applied with the hands and the TCM practitioner can only reach points with their two hands. A treatment for which a point on both feet and a point on the head is called for will not be possible with the acupressure method. Of course pressure could be put the foot points and then later pressure on the head points. However, with acupuncture the needles can be put in all at the same time.
Moxibustion involves stimulating points on your body using heat from burning herbs. The points used in moxibustion are the same as those used in acupuncture, and the main herb burned is mugwart. It has a smell that is somewhat similar to marijuana and some people can confuse the two. However, it is nothing like marijuana, and it will not make you high. I use very little of this in the Fort Myers clinic because I have neighbors in the building and don’t want to disturb them. Some people do not like the smell of the burned herb.
I do provide moxa sticks to women who come to the clinic to induce labor. They can use it themselves on points that I teach them to help induce labor or on points to help turn a breech baby.
Chinese Herbs –
For thousands of years Chinese herbs have been used and modified to increase their effectiveness. They work to restore balance in the body. Each contains a combination of different herbs in ratios found to eliminate side effects and enhance the desired properties of the herbs. Chinese herbal formulas are used for both acute and chronic conditions, some being taken for only days or as needed and others for several months to help the body help itself.
Food as medicine is a key element in achieving balance, and your practitioner is likely to have some suggestions about your diet. In our Fort Myers clinic, we offer a wide range of services to educate and help people alter their food choices and eating habits in order to improve health. We have classes and one-on-one consultations to educate patients and assist them to succeed. Changing foods can be particularly difficult to do, and are quite successful in helping patients make the transition to a more healthy set of choices through education, coaching, and follow-up.
Tui-na or Chinese massage may also be found in most clinics. This massage helps restore balance, and is a form of massage that is focused on balancing the body. It is not the gentle Swedish massage, This massage usually does not hurt, but it can be a little uncomfortable, especially if the patient is injured. Care is taken when working with an injury to minimize the discomfort.
Exercise in the form of Qigong or Tai Chi may be recommended by your acupuncture physician. We also recommend walking and stretching exercises. Many issues are a result of muscle weakness, and strengthening is one way to support an injured area.
Is Acupuncture safe?
When practiced correctly by trained, qualified professional practitioners, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are extremely safe. In fact, when practiced correctly, they have no side effects. If a patient reports side effects from a Chinese medical treatment, the practitioner modifies the treatment until there is healing without side effects. This is because Chinese Medicine seeks to restore balance to the entire person, not just a piece or part. Negative side effects mean there is imbalance which needs to be corrected. Of course we frequently see positive side effects that delight both us and the patient!
What can be treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Chinese Medicine treats the full range of diseases, acute and chronic, traumatic, infectious, internally generated and emotional problems. In TCM these conditions are described very differently than in Western Medicine. However, here is a short list of conditions treated by TCM:
- Weight problems,
- Shoulder Pain
- Back Pain
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- Headache & Migraines
- Stress and stress related problems
- Addiction (food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex)
- Premature Aging
- Auto-immune diseases
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer: Coping with the effects of Chemo-therapy and radiation
Also, Chinese Medicine is an excellent and effective treatment to employ at the onset of any disease… for diseases which Modern Western Medicine either does not understand or for which it has no effective treatment. Chinese Medicine is often used in conjunction with Western Medicine to speed up the healing process.