Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of health care that is, within itself, a complete medical system.
Acupuncture points are located along “meridians” or lines of energy flow, which directly irrigate and influence the internal organs. Each of the 361 traditional points has a very specific effect on organ regulation and physiological function. The acupuncture meridians have both internal and external pathways, providing a complex and dependable network of Qi flow and interconnection throughout the system. This allows us to place a needle in the foot or hand to treat headache, or on the arm and leg for digestive disturbances.
For the treatment of pain, acupuncture works by moving stagnation and restoring the flow of energy and blood. It does not simply block the sensation pain. The cumulative effect of treatments gradually regulates the blood and energy flow, and heals tissue trauma. In cases of severe pain, I recommend 2-3 sessions per week of 2-4 weeks, and then reduce the treatment frequency as the pain decreases.
The most common question I am asked is: does acupuncture hurt? The answer is generally, NO! However, it depends on the practitioner, the type of needles used, and the patient sensitivity. People are extremely different in the threshold of pain and sensitivity. In my practice, I have every needle thickness available, ranging from extremely thin to thick. During the first session, I find the needle gauge that is right for that person, by starting thin, and going thicker if I feel I need to. If I use too thin of a needle for an individual patient, I don’t get an adequate therapeutic result. If I go too thick, it hurts. I avoid causing discomfort because I feel that I get less of a therapeutic result if the patient feels pain or stress. I believe that much of my success as an acupuncturist is due to my emphasis on finding the best needle type and needling style for each individual patient. There is a fine tuned balance that can be found with each patient in order to make acupuncture gentle, and yet effective.
Most people feel extremely relaxed after a session. It is not uncommon to fall asleep during treatment. Sometimes patience will feel an obvious and marked improvement of symptoms during or immediately following treatment, although it often takes up to 36 hours to experience the full effect.
Although this healing system is very ancient, the theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine are quite sophisticated. As with western medicine, the importance of an accurate diagnosis is essential. The two most important diagnostic methods in this medical system are pulse and tongue diagnosis. In pulse diagnosis, the radial artery is palpated in 12 different locations, each representative of the 12 internal organ systems. These 12 pulse locations exhibit any number of 28 different qualities, revealing important diagnostic information. Needless to say, the art of pulse diagnosis require skill and experience. The tongue is then examined for spots, color, coating, cracks, general shape, and several other features, as it also reveals internal organ functioning and the general state of the body’s internal terrain.
In the treatment of internal organ disorders, a practitioner does not choose acupuncture points or herbal prescriptions based solely on a western medical diagnosis. For example, if one were to examine five patients with arthritis, it is possible that all five might receive a different traditional diagnosis. The treatment approach would address the symptom of the arthritis in consideration of the individual underlying energetic configuration represented through pulse and tongue diagnosis. The energetic root cause of the symptom is considered to be the “pattern of disharmony” unique to each individual case. Even in the treatment of chronic pain with acupuncture, it is important to consider the root, or the underlying pattern of energetic disharmony, as well as the branch, which is outward manifestation of pain.