Source for Well-Being

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

acupuncturePractitioner: Whitney Madden, Lic Ac

 

What Is Chinese Medicine?
What Is Acupuncture?
What Is Qi?
A Few More Definitions
What Are Meridians?
What Is The Acupuncturist’s Role In Working With The Qi?
What Are Yin And Yang?
How Is Yin Yang Theory Applied To Medicine?
How Does Chinese Herbal Medicine Work?
How Effective Is Chinese Medicine?
How Can Eastern And Western Medicine Support Each Other?
How Many Sessions Will I Need And How Often Should I be treated?
What Is An Acupuncture Needle And What Does It Feel Like?
Who Benefits?
Links

 

What Is Chinese Medicine?
Chinese Medicine is a complete and comprehensive medicine that has been effectively utilized by over half of the world’s population extending back 5000 years ago. Having withstood the test of time, the deep traditions of Chinese Medicine are most applicable to the health challenges that we face in our fast-paced world today. The theory of correspondence in science asserts: In order for a larger system to be in balance as a whole, each smaller system within it must itself be balanced. The role of Chinese Medicine is simply that theory in action. Chinese Medicine views the human body holographically, whereby various systems and areas within the body correspond to the integration of health within the whole organism. The acupuncturist regulates the Qi so as to restore the body’s ability to respond to challenges in a way that maintains the equilibrium of the whole. In this way, uncomfortable symptoms, and more importantly the root of a disorder are addressed.
Although acupuncture itself has been widely accepted and considered the cornerstone of Chinese Medicine in the West, it is only one of the the 8 limbs of Chinese Medicine which consists of: Meditation, Exercise (Qi Gong), Nutrition, Acupuncture, Herbology, Massage (Tui Na), Feng Shui, and Astrology.

What Is Acupuncture?
The word acupuncture stems from the Latin word, “acus”, meaning “needle”. The acupuncturist utilizes an array of diagnostic skills to select a focused treatment plan, such as: listening to the patient’s history, evaluating the various pulse qualities taken at the wrist, observing the tongue, and assessing the emotional texture of the patient’s life. Meridians are pathways of Qi (energy) that long ago were traced and mapped with points indicating areas where this energy communicates with the surface of the body. Modern science has measured the increased electrical charge at these points, thus corroborating the locations of these energetic pathways or meridians. With a formed diagnosis, the needles are inserted into selected points (of which there are more than 400) along the appropriately selected meridians. The acupuncture point represents a portal, or opening through which the acupuncturist adjusts the flow of Qi, which in turn affects the circulation of blood, and the functions of the internal organs. The ultimate goal is a proper reordering of the whole workings of the body-mind-spirit.

What is Qi?
Qi, sometimes translated as “energy” or “life force”, may be thought of as an invisible force that is recognized by its effects. In the human being, all functions of the body and mind are manifestations of Qi. Einstein’s theory, E=MC2 demonstrates that atoms are both material and immaterial (wave energy). The universe is not comprised of discrete physical objects separated by dead space, rather it is one indivisible, dynamic whole whereby the interplay of matter and energy is in a constant flux and cannot be considered independently. Therefore, all matter originates by virtue of a force. This force is Qi.

A Few More Definitions
Here are some excerpted definitions of Qi, excerpted from A Brief History of Qi , and Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, by Harriet Beinfeld and Efrem Korngold:

  • All functions of the human body are manifestations of Qi: sensing, cogitating, feeling, digesting, stirring and propagating…
  • Qi begets movement and heat.
  • Like air, Qi has its own movement, and also activates the movement of things other than itself. People do not inhale Qi, rather it is the motive force that establishes respiration.
  • Qi is both the foundation of structure and the catalyst of transformation and movement.
  • Qi governs the shape and activity of the body and its process of forming and organizing itself.

What Are Meridians?
Meridians are pathways which channel the flow of Qi. Many of us who live here in the Swannanoa River Valley enjoy the dazzling dance of our mountain streams plummeting over rocks or gently seeping along to their eventual meeting with the French Broad River. Along their path, these streams transport life-giving water to the land, animals, plants, and people. Keeping that picture in mind, now consider that your body also consists of rivers and streams directing the movement of Qi to all of the major tributaries along the map of the body. As with the life-giving qualities of the stream, Qi transports life-giving energy and energizes every cell, organ, gland, tissue, and muscle, while enhancing mental, emotional and spiritual faculties as well. The water in a stream seeks the path of least resistance as it pillows over rocks and eddies around fallen trees, maintaining its harmony and equilibrium by recreating itself when obstacles present in its path. If a storm lays a tree across its breadth, the stream is affected at this site, and both upstream and downstream. At the site of the fallen tree, the flow eddies and stagnates with sediment. Upstream the water may swell and emerge over the banks and send out tributaries as it finds a new path to roll down the mountain. Downstream the stream loses its volume and flows with less vigor, so may become murky, turbid, or even dry. Yet the stream knows what to do! Gradually it recreates its path to allow for the most natural, unimpeded flow.

In this way, our bodies also know what to do! Let’s consider an injury to our elbow which causes pain, inflammation and impaired feeling in the hands. The injury at the elbow is the tree that has fallen across the stream. Various channels in the arm direct Qi from the shoulder to the hands. The obstruction, or injury, has obstructed the flow of Qi in the arm and has caused a blockage at the elbow. Here and upstream, along a particular meridian (pathway of Qi) of the arm, there is swelling and tenderness. The swelling has slowed the flow of Qi and Blood, serving a vital purpose; that of immobilizing the injured joint and summoning the support of a flood of red and white blood cells to initiate a healing response. Downstream, along this same meridian, as the resources of Qi and Blood have been redirected to the elbow, the obstructed flow has led to numbness and lack of feeling.

When a meridian fails to function harmoniously as a result of various factors, such as: trauma, organ malfunction, auto-immunity, emotional imbalance, dietary influences, environmental and seasonal factors, the Qi is disrupted and due to this imbalance, symptoms appear. The good news is that when meridians are functioning harmoniously, an intricate balance is maintained and health thrives.

What Is The Acupuncturist’s Role In Working With The Qi?
The acupuncturist, understanding the wisdom of the stream, knows that intrinsic in life, life seeks health, movement, liberation, possibility. Illness can be likened to a blockage or perhaps a drought in the stream. At the same time, illness may be framed as an opportunity healing and allowing the flow of Qi to resume its course. The acupuncture point, of which there are more than 400 on the body, represents a portal, or opening through which the acupuncturist adjusts the density and flow of Qi, which in turn affects the circulation of blood and moisture and the functions of the internal organs. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine: “Blood is the mother of Qi, while Qi is the Commander of Blood.” Blood and Qi are very interwoven.

In the case of the injured elbow with significant swelling, the acupuncturist uses a needle to access the pathway (and circulatory blood flow). Once the sensation of Qi is obtained, the acupuncturist stimulates the movement of Qi, thereby commanding the flow of blood circulation and penetrating any stagnant blood that has built up from the injury. This technique results in the alleviation of pain, while expediting the healing process at the injury site. But the acupuncturist goes further than this. By considering the terrain of the whole person, the acupuncturist is able to effect change on a much broader scale; restoring the equilibrium of the whole, while addressing any imbalances that may have made the person susceptible to the injury in the first place. This is what is meant by “treating the root; not just the symptoms”.

What Are Yin And Yang?
Most of you have seen the symbolic representation of Yin and Yang, the Tai Qi symbol, which depicts a universal paradigm, describing how phenomena naturally group in pairs of opposites: heaven and earth, sun and moon, night and day, winter and summer, male and female, up and down, inside and out, movement and stasis (lack of movement). While each of these appears to be separate and opposite qualities, they are in fact inextricably linked and complementary. In other words, one cannot exist without the other (The Tai Qi symbol portrays this with the small dot that is contained within each of the white and dark halves of the circle; within yang, the seed of yin is contained, and visa versa) and they counterbalance each other. The yin yang reality is an ever-evolving and changing process, whereby one transforms into the other in an ever repeating process of metamorphosis.

How Is Yin Yang Theory Applied To Medicine?
In Chinese Medicine, the practitioner explores the relationships between yin and yang to form an analysis of physiology, health and pathology in the body in order to form a diagnosis and subsequent treatment objective. In short, yin and yang may be observed to be either excess or deficient in relation to each other within various facets of health and physiology. This type of an assessment allows the practitioner to select a treatment that aims to harmonize the relationship of yin and yang to each other.

How Does Chinese Herbal Medicine Work?
The roots of Chinese Herbal Medicine are as deep as their two thousand plus history.  The history of pharmacological medicine itself is embedded in herbal medicine (ie: aspirin from willow bark, morphine from the seeds of poppy flowers, penicillin from fungus, digitalis from the leaves of foxglove). More and more, people are seeking to be empowered with alternatives to pain-killers, anti-depressants, steroids, antacids, inhalers, and diuretics. While pharmaceutical medications utilize specific chemical constituents to target specific symptoms in the body, herbal prescriptions are individually crafted to work synergistically to restore optimal health. A blend of Chinese herbs has the advantage of enhancing desired results, while counteracting adverse side-effects. Herbs are administered in the form of teas, pills, tinctures, and topical applications, giving each client the flexibility to accommodate their lifestyle.

How Effective Is Chinese Medicine?
Many people have experienced a profound and positive impact in their lives via a progression of acupuncture and herbal treatment. The best evidence of the efficacy of treatment is reflected in these people who feel more harmony, vitality and peace within themselves; attributes which may not be measurable. However, in keeping with the Western Medicine model of medicine, much research is being conducted. Modern research has measured the increased electrical charge that occurs at acupuncture points, thus corroborating the locations of these energetic pathways or meridians. Extensive research (NIH National Institute of Health and WHO World Health Organization) has demonstrated its efficacy with numerous studies, concluding and endorsing Chinese Medicine as having a positive effect in treating hundreds of conditions. The following quotations are from the NIH:

“There has been considerable evidence that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release certain hormones, such as enkaphalins and endorphins which reduce the sensation of pain, making acupuncture an effective pain mediator and an effective analgesia for surgery.”

“Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses, mediated mainly by sensory neurons to many structures within the central nervous system. This can lead to activation of pathways, affecting various physiological systems in the brain, as well as in the periphery.”

“Acupuncture may activate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects. Alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, and changes in the regulation of blood flow, both centrally and peripherally, have been documented. There is also evidence of alterations in immune functions produced by acupuncture.”

How Can Eastern And Western Medicine Support Each Other? 
Not only do both paradigms of medicine and healing absolutely have their place, but they can actually be very supportive to each other and empowering to the client.

Chinese Medicine focuses on supporting the conditions in which health thrives by facilitating the body’s innate healing resources; it is a medicine of intervention, prevention and wellness. Western Medicine is a true treasure trove when it comes to intervention and what we may call “heroic medicine”, that requires drastic measures, such as necessitated by life-saving surgery. In fact here is one example of how the two paradigms can support each other; as with surgery. Chinese Medicine may be well employed both before and after surgery to bolster the immune system in preparing for the impact on the body as well as in expediting an effective and balanced recovery. It has been noted by Western Medicine Doctors who have shared clients with us at Source that the post-surgery recovery was twice as fast as the typical time frame.

Similarly, where Western Medicine utilizes pharmaceutical medicine to target a certain area of the body, Chinese Medicine will utilize acupuncture, herbs and counsel to engender a holistic approach to healing, augmenting the body’s own ability to affect the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Take for example depression. A Western Doctor may support the client by prescribing a medication that supports certain hormones in the brain (ie: serotonin, considered a “feel good hormone”) to counter the depression. Rather than taking this direct “smart bomb target approach”, Chinese Medicine will identify patterns of disharmony within the whole person and then prescribe treatment to effect a re-orientation of health that accounts for the root of the imbalance. Hence, one may find profound support utilizing both medicines together to regain a footing in mental health.  Just as the wisdom of the yin yang symbol points out, there are many such examples where these two seemingly polar opposite fields of medicine are mutually supportive.

How Many Sessions Will I Need And How Often Should I Be Treated?
Once again, Chinese Medicine is a holistic therapy and its effect is cumulative. As such, once stepping into the process, expect to be committed to a series of sessions. Generally a course of treatment runs in the area of ten to fifteen sessions. As for the frequency this will certainly vary, according to the nature of our focus. Acute conditions require more frequency than chronic conditions, though may respond more quickly to treatment, whereas chronic conditions may require more time and patience. As a general rule expect to commit to appointments at least once (possibly twice) a week for one to two months, then spacing out accordingly to every other week. Typically, once a state of balanced health is sustained, patients choose to move to more of a wellness program, which might warrant treatments once during each season. Naturally, the greatest success comes to those who are motivated and committed to a full progression of treatment.

What Is An Acupuncture Needle And What Does It Feel Like?
All needles are pre-sterilized and pre-packaged and discarded after one usage. They are solid, made of the finest steel, and thin enough to be compared to the width of human hair. Generally upon insertion, you may feel a slight pinching, “like an insect bite”, some patients say. Following insertion, with the arrival of Qi, you may feel a dull ache, warmth, a radiating or pulsing sensation, a “release of energy”, or nothing at all.

What Should I Expect During Treatment?
Your first visit, lasting approximately two hours, will give you the opportunity to set the tone for your unique healing journey with an in-depth exploration of your health and wellness. This session involves a clarification of your goals for treatment, a review of your health history, including pertinent biographical life experience, a physical exam, and an acupuncture treatment. Subsequent sessions will last approximately 60-75 minutes. Each session will begin with a “check-in” regarding our last session, and an update on your overall health, moving into a carefully designed treatment.

Who Benefits?
Chinese Medicine is a complete and comprehensive medical system which treats a broad spectrum of diseases and ailments, both acute and chronic. Chinese Medicine treats all ages, from newborns to centennials. Whether you are in the grips of pain or discomfort, or your goal is to sustain the conditions in which health thrives and prevent the seed of illness from taking root, Chinese Medicine will play an instrumental role. Here is a short list of some of the many ways that Chinese Medicine may help you…

  • Alleviate ~ acute or chronic musculoskeletal and neuromuscular pain.
  • Soothe ~ stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Enable ~ sleep (insomnia, sleep disorders).
  • Boost ~ energy and the immune system.
  • Liberate ~ breath (asthma, allergies, sinus issues).
  • Prevent/ dissipate ~ cold and Flu.
  • Relieve ~ digestive disorders.
  • Regulate ~ heart function (blood pressure, palpitations, and poor circulation).
  • Soothe ~ Urogenital disorders.
  • Ease ~ Neurological syndromes (post-stroke recovery , Parkinson’s, MS, numbness, dizziness)
  • Nurture ~ children and the family system.
  • Empower ~ women’s health (pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause).
  • Promote ~ Fertility.
  • Alleviate ~ addictions, dependency.
  • Augment ~ Recovery from surgery, support with cancer or other debilitating diseases.
  • Sharpen ~ mental Focus.
  • Strengthen ~ body.
  • Enhance ~ spiritual Growth.

Links:
www.acupuncturetoday.com

Prices:
First appointments for adults are 2 hours:  $120

Appointments after that are about 1 hour:   $ 74

For child and herbal rates:  call 828-778-4180