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Oriental Medicine


  • What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?  (TCM)
  • How does Acupuncture work?
  • What is an Acupuncture treatment like?
  • How many treatments are necessary?
  • Does Acupuncture have any side effects?
  • What is unique about Chinese Herbal Medicine?

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a completely integrated system of medicine used to diasgnose, treat and prevent illness.  It is the world's oldest, continually practiced medicine with a documented clinical history of 2500 years.
The primary treatment modalities include Acupuncture, Herbals, Diet, Exercise, Tui Na Massage and Cupping.
    TCM is based on an energetic perspective of the body rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine.  This energy model is grounded in the dynamics of the Vital Substances:  Qi, Jing, Blood & Fluids.  Health is the quality and balance of these Vital Substances, while disease is the disturbance and disorder of them.
    While at first glance this perspective seems incongruent to Western medical thinking, TCM is simply a different methodical way of organizing, understanding and approaching the body's metabolism, immunity, homeostasis and disease.  The goal of TCM, like all medicine, is to promote and restore optimal functioning and health to the body.

How does Acupuncture work?
    Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief.  However, acupuncture has
proven highly effective for addressing a variety of endocrine/hormonal, circulatory, infectious and systemic conditions in addition to pain relief.  
    The 1997 National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that "studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause mulitple biological responses . . . 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.  Acupuncture may be a reasonable option for a number of clinical conditions."
(NIH Conference on Acupuncture November 3-5, 1997)

What is an Acupuncture treatment like?
    Acupuncture therapy is the inserton of very fine needles, about the thickness of hair, into selected 'points' on the body.  The points used are determined by the health condition being treated and clinical success of the past 25 centuries.  
    A typical treatment uses 10-20 sterile, disposable needles.  The depth of acupuncture is usually 1/4 to 1 inch and is relative to the point location on the body, one's size and constitution.  While acupuncture can elicit local sensations of tingling, numbness or heaviness, acupuncture ought be painless.  Needles are left in place for 20-30 minutes.  During this time most patients experience welcomed relaxation and typically fall asleep.

How many treatments are necessary?
    Many acute conditions can be treated with acupuncture in 5-6 visits.  Generally speaking, other situations may require a series of 10-12 treatments.  Many chronic conditions, after initial treament, can be managed with 1-2 treatments a month, or during flare-ups.
    Appointments are 50-60 minutes long.

Does Acupuncture have any side effects?
    When performed by a comprehensively trained and educated licensed acupuncurist (LAc.) acupuncture is a very safe and relaxing treatment.  While infrequent, bruising at the site of some acupuncture points is possible.  Some patients can experience a short bout of light-headedness after treatment.  The chance of infection is extremely remote as sterile disposable needles are used.
    Again, NIH states in their 1997 report, "One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.  As an example, musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain and tennis elbow are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial.  These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections.  Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects, but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments.  The evidence supporting these therapies is no better than that for acupuncture." 

What is unique about Chinese Herbal Medicine?
    While Chinese Herbal Medicine predates the use of acupuncture, like acupuncture, herbal medicine treats a full range of health concerns.  Therapeutic herbs address acute diseases (respiratory and intestinal flu, the common cold),
allergies, digestive and gynecological disorders, autoimmune dieases, chronic viral diseases and degenerative diseases.  Chinese Herbal Medicine is especially good for promoting the body's ability to heal and recover from illness.  
    While Western folk herbalism typically focuses on using a single herb for a specific single symptom, Chinese herbalism crafts formulas to address one's constitution as well as the symptoms of concern.  
    Typically four or more herbs are blended and prescribed as a formula.  Combining herbs enhances their therapeutic effect and minimizes side effects.  Formulas can be taken as teas, pills, tinctures or liniments.  
    To treat an acute illness or injury, herbal formulas are taken for as little as 3 days.  For a chronic disorder herbs can be taken under supervision for many months.












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