Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a comprehensive system of medicine with over 5000 years of documented history. Its components include Chinese herbology, acupuncture, nutrition, Tui-na (medical massage) as well as Qi- gong. The philosophy behind this system of medicine is complicated and complete. It explains the functions of the body in a way that relates it to Taoist cosmology and shows no separation from the mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional components of the human being. It historically has always been a form of spirit-mind-body medicine.
The underlying idea behind TCM is that of balance. A balanced person is a healthy person. All diseases reflects dis-equilibrium in the body. Unlike conventional medicine, which waits for the patient to get sick in order to start treatment, TCM is largely preventative in nature. The disharmony is determined and the proper changes through treatment or lifestyle are made to bring the body back into balance before the actual disease occurs. Historically, the traditional Chinese doctors were paid to keep people well. If the patient became sick, the doctor would not be paid until the patient was well again!
The body is viewed in TCM as having twelve ordinary and eight extraordinary channels of energy. These channels, called “meridians,” correspond to organ systems of the body. Although they carry names like spleen, liver, and stomach, they do not necessarily reflect those organs as we know them in western science. Vital energy called Qi flows through the meridians. If there is an excess or deficiency or blockage of Qi in the meridian, pain and disease will result. Through the use of acupuncture or herbs, the Qi can be balanced and the patient restored to health.
We often think of acupuncture for treatment of back pain, but it has many more uses. Acupuncture can be used to treat chronic headaches, fevers, asthma, paralysis, flu, constipation, diarrhea, emotional imbalance, and many other conditions. Acupuncture can be extremely helpful for women’s health problems, especially menstrual disorders and including PMS, menopause symptoms, nausea, and vomiting of pregnancy and even endometriosis. Most importantly, acupuncture can be used preventively just to keep you balanced and in good health.
What can you expect from a traditional acupuncture treatment? Expect a thorough interview which includes questions which may not seem related to the condition you want treated. For instance, such things as whether you feel hot or cold, the color of your urine, and how you sleep at night gives clues as to the best way to treat a headache. Physical diagnosis is done by looking at the tongue and feeling the pulses near the wrist. As all of our acupuncturists are licensed physicians, more conventional diagnostic techniques may also be used, especially if a serious condition must be ruled out.
The acupuncture is done with fine, disposable, sterile needles, following the national clean-needle technique guidelines. Although some people feel nothing, most people feel a small pinprick sensation as the needles are inserted. Many people will also feel some kind of energy flow as the needle gets to the level of the Qi. This often feels like electricity, or a spreading feeling. Different conditions need different numbers of treatments. With most conditions, positive results are seen with the first few treatments, so it is easy to see if the acupuncture is beneficial for you.