A visit to my office to discuss acupuncture will begin like most of the other doctor appointments you have experienced, including some version of the instruction to “Stick out your tongue and say ‘Ahh.’ ”
After that, however, you will notice this visit is different. For practitioners of Chinese medicine, your tongue is an important indicator of your health, a map to the rest of your body. We will continue our discussion with what your tongue tells me.
We will talk about the physical pain you want to eliminate but also the joys and stresses you are experiencing in your life. My professors at the Hong Kong Post Graduate Institute of Oriental Medicine taught me that these experiences promote or slow down the life flow known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). People whose Qi flows freely feel their best. When our Qi is blocked, we feel physical pain or mental distress. Oi underlies blood nerves & lymphatics
Pain is a signal that the body is out off balance. Acupuncture, the practice of inserting hair thin, sterilized needles beneath the skin at points along the pathway, releases those blockages and helps bring back equilibrium to your body. Acupuncture creates a series of chemical reactions which relieve pain, reduce inflammation, tissue repair & elevate mood.
What is acupuncture?
When we meet, you may have questions about whether acupuncture is right for your specific condition. At our initial visit, I will describe the process of acupuncture, explain what it does for patients, and answer questions about how the other aspects of Chinese and Western medicine might complement it.
Interest in Chinese approaches is growing for several reasons. It is seen as a more human-approach — not as much of a one-size-fits-all treatment. It also recognizes that all aspects of our lives are interconnected. Just as activities at work affect our attitudes at home, so our physical, emotional and mental health is interrelated in a way that Western medical schools have been slow to recognize.
That’s changing, though, and acupuncture and Chinese medicine are growing in acceptance, sometimes even being practiced by Western medical doctors and dentists.
A New York Times article of March 2017 cited a study that verified the acupuncture treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
“Acupuncture is a safe, low-risk, low side-effect intervention,” said Vitaly Napadow, a researcher at Harvard who wrote the study. “It’s perfect for a first-line approach, and it’s something patients should consider before trying more invasive procedures like surgery.”
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, also recognizes the efficacy of acupuncture.
“The effects of acupuncture on the brain and body and how best to measure them are only beginning to be understood,” the NIH says. But results “from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic, such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.” Hundreds of peer reviewed studies in the US, UK and throughout Asia & Europe validate the effectiveness of acupuncture. The US lags behind the rest of the world in mainstreaming acupuncture.
Your first visit
Our consultation starts with me asking questions, and listening. If we agree to begin therapy, the process of “needling” is relaxing, and painful symptoms often quickly disappear. As I treat you, you may listen to your choice of music, audio book, guided meditation — or silence. We may include massage, therapeutic electro-magnetic heat or muscle adjustment as part of the therapy.
At the end of the session, patients feel calm yet rejuvenated. (Read more details about the initial visit here.)
As a doctor of Chinese medicine, I not only relieve the immediate pain, but also discuss with you all sources of potential blocks to your Qi. Chinese medicine does not preclude Western medicine. Many patients receive acupuncture while also receiving pharmaceutical or other treatment from a traditional Western doctor.
My goal is to dramatically improve the quality of your life and to heal your pain for the long term.