Due to out of state relocation, Elegant Balance Acupuncture is closed and no longer able to see patients.
Does it (acupuncture) hurt? What is it supposed to feel like? Acupuncture should not hurt. The sensation can vary depending on the location being needled and the sensitivity of the individual. On insertion, the patient may feel a small prick or pinch as the needle penetrates the skin. The feeling that is acceptable and desired is usually described as a feeling of heaviness in the area. Sometimes, there can be an intense sensation when the energy we are attempting to manipulate arrives at the location of a needle. This is sometimes described as a lightning bolt, electricity, or a zap. This feeling should subside to a tolerant level. Patients should alert their acupuncturist if they have continued discomfort or cannot tolerate this feeling.
How does acupuncture work?
Energy flows throughout the body. In a healthy person, this energy is abundant, is balanced, and flows smoothly. A disease or illness can occurs when there is a lack of this energy or when it does not flow properly. Acupuncture works by manipulating this energy. Today, we use small, sterile needles. They are inserted at specific points on the body. The points used are chosen by an acupuncturist to treat the specific symptoms or illness a patient presents with at that specific time. The function of each acupuncture point was determined centuries ago and applies still today. Research is ongoing to further improve uses and to understand and measure the mechanism.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Terminology and Pattern Diagnosis
What do you mean I don’t have enough blood? My doctor said my kidneys are fine! In order for us to treat a patient with acupuncture or herbs, we must first determine the appropriate diagnosis in tradition Chinese medicine. Often, the Chinese terms do not translate or correlate to standard western medicine terminology. In Chinese medicine, we are more concerned with function rather than structure. Furthermore, the functions in Chinese medicine for organs or body fluids are not completely the same as the western medicine definitions. When we say you are blood deficient, it does not mean you are lacking the correct volume of blood in the body. It refers more to the functioning of the blood. The different tasks we expect the blood to accomplish in Chinese medicine aren’t being done or done to the full capacity. Therefore we say a patient is blood deficient. In western medicine, the kidneys work as a filter. They remove toxins and create urine. Since traditional Chinese medicine was created long before we had laboratory tests and diagnostic equipment, the kidneys were given functions unrelated to this task. A patient’s kidneys may measure as functioning perfectly by western analysis, but they may be disfunctioning or out of balance according to TCM functions. Spleen & Heart Disorders As stated previously, Traditional Chinese Medicine assigns functions to the organs of the body. These functions do not always correlate with functions defined by western medicine. In TCM, the spleen is responsible for digestion. The substances one takes in orally are broken down and converted to what the body needs for nutrients and energy. In western medicine, this is the stomach and small intestine. In TCM the stomach is the spleen’s partner in accomplishing this function. Another disorder attributed to the spleen is the formation or accumulation of dampness. In nature, too much moisture is not good, and neither is too much moisture in the body. And like in nature when water pools and is stagnant, water that sits and is not moving in the body is bad. The Heart is the most important organ in both western medicine and TCM. In both, it moves the blood, thus nourishing the other organs and the rest of the body. However, in TCM, the heart plays an even bigger role. The heart holds the mind. In western medicine, the mind is the brain, though sometimes we say things like someone is speaking from their heart. Or in theology, people often talk about their spirit or soul. This is also the mind in TCM. Therefore, it is believed in TCM that the heart plays a role in so many diseases. In western medicine, one would see a medical doctor and a psychologist or therapist to deal with their mental and physical health. TCM recognizes that one cannot be separated from the other and will cause issues with the other and vice versa. Liver & Lung Disorders Again, TCM investigates disharmonies or imbalances in the functions of organs as defined by Chinese standards not western ones. The liver’s storing of blood is a function common to both TCM and western medicine. But the main function of the liver in TCM is to make sure the energy (qi) of the whole body moves smoothly. Most liver disorders in TCM occur when this is malfunctioning. The lungs share the same function of taking in air in both medicines. Western medicine describes the exchange of gases where in TCM it is bringing in the energy of the air. The other major function of the Lungs in TCM is what western medicine describes as the immune system. This function is the defense of the body from invasion. The lungs control the skin and the defensive energy (wei qi). The immune system in western medicine is much more complex and is not controlled by the lungs, yet has the same purpose: to prevent you from being sick.
What are qi, yin and yang? Literally translated, qi means air, breath, or gas. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the word qi is energy or life force. It is the energy that circulates through the body. Disruption of the flow of this energy or a lack of this energy causes disease. One gets qi originally from their parents, then from food and water we ingest and from the air we breathe. Yin and yang are another foundational concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The concept comes from Taoist philosophy. Yin and yang are the pairs. Everything can be described in terms on yin and yang qualities. Things are in proportion. Some are more yin, others more yang. But it is always in relation to the other. They do not exist alone. Ideally there should be a balance. In TCM, illness occurs when there is imbalance of yin and yang or a lack of either or both. Some examples of yin and yang pairs would be respectively: night and day, dark and light, cold and hot, earth and heaven, moon and sun, female and male.
What can be treated using acupuncture?
There are a variety of illnesses and symptoms that can be treated using acupuncture. In the United States, acupuncture is used as an adjunct to modern western medicine. Western medicine uses very strict scientific standards to establish proof of efficacy and safety. Since modern technology has not developed the mechanisms or devices to quantitatively measure the energy or substances which acupuncture manipulates, it is difficult to conduct the scientific studies which can prove acupuncture is efficacious for many conditions. Nor can a control or placebo group be established adequately, since even apply pressure to an acupuncture point instead of needling may produce the same desired affects. Some studies have been performed and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized the use of acupuncture as effective treatment of some conditions as noted in the following lists.
NIH: back pain, knee pain, headaches, osteoarthritis, chemotherapy induced nausea, depression WHO: acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis, acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma, toothache, tennis elbow, sciatica, hiccups, acute & chronic gastritis, acute & chronic colitis, constipation, diarrhea, headache, migraine, neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy There are many other conditions which acupuncture has shown to produce beneficial results but since these are noted through observation and not the standardized scientific studies, acceptance as a standard of care or as a proven efficacious treatment has not been designated. Some conditions include addiction, menstrual and reproductive disorders, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, and many more. One should discuss with their acupuncturist if there are questions as to whether acupuncture can be effective to treat a certain condition.
How many treatments will it take? Is there anything I should or should not do before or after the treatment? Treatment strategies are determined specifically for an individual and the condition or complaint for which he or she presents. Generally, a course of treatment is 10-12 sessions. The longer a condition has existed, the longer it may take to fully resolve it. Positive results may occur immediately or after the first few treatments. One should not arrive for a treatment intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One should not be too hungry or too full. A light snack before treatment as well as being hydrated is recommended. One should empty their bladder prior to treatment to prevent discomfort or interruption of the treatment to use the bathroom. After a treatment, the patient should continue drinking fluids. It is also recommended to not partake in very strenuous activity for several hours after a treatment. During the treatment,a patient should relax, focus on their breathing, and may want to think about their condition and what they would like to achieve through the treatment. Alerting their practitioner of any problems or concerns is also suggested.