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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on thousands of years of studying the purpose, flow, and impact of Qi (energy) in the body. TCM therapies include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Asian bodywork, moxibustion, cupping and Qigong, to name a few. The basic foundation for TCM is that Qi (pronounced “Chee”), or the life energy, flows through the body. This energy flows in channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.

 

Can acupuncture help my condition?
Based on your medical history, condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, we will discuss your condition and options, and we can decide together whether acupuncture is suitable by itself or as adjunctive therapy. 

If your treatment, according to a Western diagnosis, isn't resolving the problem, is expensive, or has significant side effects/hassles associated with it, then clearly acupuncture is worth a try. For example if one is having difficulty controlling or improving ones asthma with Western treatments, a trial of acupuncture makes utmost sense.

Does Acupuncture work?

There is increasing scientific evidence proving the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of medical ailments, including chemotherapy-induced nausea, autoimmune disorders, chronic back pain, hypertension, and allergic rhinitis. The World Health Organization recognizes almost one hundred diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture is effective. Much of the research on acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is being conducted by universities, research institutions, and the National Institutes of Health.

 

What does acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief and for post-surgery and chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting. In addition, both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health recognize that acupuncture can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for many illnesses. A partial list includes: addiction (such as alcoholism), asthma, bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, facial tics, fibromyalgia, headaches, irregular periods, low back pain,menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, sinusitis, spastic colon (often called irritable bowel syndrome), stroke rehabilitation, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and urinary problems such as incontinence. You can safely combine acupuncture with prescription drugs and other conventional treatments, but it is important for your primary care physician to be aware of and to monitor how your acupuncture treatment may be affecting your conventional therapies.

 

Conditions Recommended for Acupuncture by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)
 Respiratory Diseases

  • Acute sinusitis

  • Acute rhinitis

  • Common cold

  • Acute tonsillitis

Bronchopulmonary Diseases

  • Acute bronchitis

  • Bronchial asthma

Eye Disorders

  • Acute conjuctivitis

  • Cataract (without complications)

  • Myopia

  • Central retinitis

Disorders of the Mouth  Cavity

  • Toothache

  • Pain after tooth extraction

  • Gingivitis

  • Pharyngitis

Orthopedic Disorders

  • Periarthritis humeroscapularis

  • Tennis elbow

  • Sciatica

  • Low back pain

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Spasm of the esophagus and cardia

  • Hiccups

  • Gastroptosis

  • Acute and chronic gastritis

  • Gastric hyperacidity

  • Chronic duodenal ulcer

  • Acute and chronic colitis

  • Acute bacterial dysentery

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Paralytic ileus

Neurologic Disorders

  • Headache

  • Migraine

  • Trigeminal neuralgia

  • Facial paralysis

  • Paralysis after apoplectic fit

  • Peripheral neuropathy

  • Paralysis caused by poliomyelitis

  • Meniere's syndrome

  • Neurogenic bladder dysfunction

  • Nocturnal enuresis

  • Intercostal neuralgia

How does Acupuncture work?

The insertion of needles into specific points can alter biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Research suggests that the needling process, and other modalities used in acupuncture, may produce their complex effects in a wide variety of ways in the brain and the body. For example, stimulated nerve fibers are believed to transmit signals to the spinal cord and brain, thus activating parts of the central nervous system. The spinal cord and brain then release certain hormones responsible for making us feel better overall and, more specifically, feel less pain. Acupuncture may regulate blood circulation and body temperature. It may also affect white blood cell activity (responsible for our immune function), reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and regulate blood sugar levels. In general, acupuncture appears to transmit its effects via electric, neurologic, hormonal, lymphatic, and electromagnetic wave pathways.

What does an acupuncturist do?

In addition to asking questions about your health, we may want to take your pulse at several locations along the wrist, and look at your tongue to observe its shape, color, and coating. We will also observe the color and texture of your skin, your complexion, and other physical characteristics that offer clues to your health. We will then ask you to lie down and get comfortable on a padded table and will insert the needles, twirling or gently stimulating each as it goes in. You may not feel the needles at all, or you may feel a quick twinge that subsides as soon as the needle is completely in. Acupuncture needles are hair-thin and not at all like the hypodermic needles you have experienced in the doctor's office or hospital. Once the needles are all in place, you will rest for 15 to 60 minutes. During this time, you’ll probably feel relaxed and sleepy and may even doze off. At the end of the session, we quickly and painlessly remove the needles. We will probably also discuss diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations, and possibly herbal supplements.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of acupuncture treatments you need depends on the complexity of your illness, whether it is a chronic or recent condition, and your general health. For example, you may need only one treatment for a recent wrist sprain, whereas for a long-standing, chronic illness you may need treatments once or twice a week for several months to get desired results. Some patients who are in relatively good health come in for monthly "maintenance" treatments to help their bodies stay in balance.

What is Chinese herbal medicine?

Chinese herbal medicine is one of the great herbal systems of the world. The literate tradition of case histories extends back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Therapeutic categories include digestives, materials that improve circulation, nervous system calming agents, antimicrobials and more. 

 

What conditions does Chinese herbal medicine treat?

Chinese herbal medicine treats the full range of human disease such as acute illness--like flu and the common cold--to chronic disease, such as allergies, gynecological disorders, autoimmune diseases, chronic viral diseases, and degenerative diseases due to aging. Herbal medicine can also help to maintain or create balance and health before disease sets in.

Chinese herbal medicine can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including, but not limited to the following:

Skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, and hives


Gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, and ulcerative colitis

 

Gynecological conditions, including pre-menstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, and infertility


Respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, chronic coughs, and allergies


Rheumatological conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis),
Urinary conditions including chronic cystitis


Psychological issues (e.g. depression, stress, and anxiety).

What types of substances are used in Chinese medicine? 

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine consists of over 11,500 substances derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources. If you are opposed to the use of animal products in your treatment, please let us know. 

How long do I need to take a Chinese herbal formula?

This can vary on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if an acute condition is being treated, you can expect to see results fairly quickly using herbs. If the condition is more chronic, you may need to take the herbs for a longer period of time before you achieve lasting results. It is important to keep us informed of any changes in your condition so that we can modify your treatment accordingly.

How does Chinese medicine differ from pharmaceutical drugs?

Many pharmaceuticals are derived from herbal medicine. However, drugs usually rely on singular molecular compounds, many of which are isolated extracts of the plants’ active ingredients. Using the whole plant in herbal medicine is more balanced and less likely to cause side effects. Chinese herbs are usually prescribed in combination to increase the efficacy of the formula and help decrease any possible side effects. Most importantly, for an herbalist, the goal of treatment is not to simply relieve symptoms but to treat the internal imbalance at the root of the problem.

Can I take pharmaceutical medication with Chinese herbs?

It is very important to let us know about any pharmaceuticals that you are currently taking. In most cases, taking Chinese herbs is not contraindicated for people who are also taking pharmaceutical drugs. There are some exceptions to this, however, so it is very important to only take herbs that have been prescribed by a licensed practitioner.

What forms do the herbs come in?

The three basic forms of Chinese herbs are pills, powders, and teas made from bulk herbs. All of the forms are effective, but we will discuss which will work best for you.

Bulk herbs are the most potent, but they also require some work as they must be cooked. You will need to boil the herbs every few days at home to make a tea. For a fee, some herbal pharmacies will cook the herbs for you and send them to you in vacuum-sealed packages.

Powdered herbs have already been processed, so you just need to measure them out and dissolve them in hot water.  The advantage of both the bulk and powdered herbs is that we are able to make a customized formula based on your specific symptoms. Both the bulk and powdered herbs can be used in topical applications to treat various skin conditions or traumatic injuries with bruising or swelling.

The pills are the most convenient form, and are a good choice for people who may need to be on a formula for an extended period of time. The disadvantage of the pills is that they cannot to be customized. You may need to take more than one formula at a time to address your symptoms.

Does my medical insurance cover Chinese medical treatments?

Acupuncture is currently covered by many major insurance companies in the United States; however, acupuncture coverage varies greatly depending on the company and individual plan. There are also many components to an acupuncture treatment which an insurance company may only cover partly or not at all. It is important to check with your insurance company to see what coverage your plan offers. We can check your coverage as well. No insurance companies cover herbal treatments as of today.  HSA and FSA's can be used for any of the treatment modalities used in Chinese medicine.