About Tradition Chinese Medicine
- Qi (Chi)
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
- World Health Organizatioin (WHO) list of conditions treated by chinese medicine
- Acceptance of Acupuncture in the United States
Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese Medical theory known as Meridian Theory, which describes qi (“chi”) or vital energy flow through meridian pathways which traverse and run through the body. These meridians are conceptual metaphors for natural phenomena observed by the ancient physicians. For simplification they can be thought of as superhighways for the dynamic flows of vital energy. When the body is in balance, the qi flows through the meridians smoothly in specific directions. But at times when the qi is out of balance it becomes disharmonious and it will stagnate or pool in particular points along the superhighway. These points of stagnation, blockage, etc., are the location where we seek to unblock in order to move, disperse or reroute the qi thereby restoring the body’s balance mechanisms. People often subjectively notice this as one or more feelings of relaxation, well being, floating sensation, mental clarity, tingling or simply refreshment to your awareness.
Learn about Acceptance of Acupuncture in the United States
In Depth-How does acupuncture work?
Over the past several thousand years Chinese physicians developed a working theory of acupuncture based on clinical evidence. After stimulating certain acupoints in the clinic they observed phenomena occurring in the body that affected the organs and various systems of the body, through which the “qi” traveled. They observed that when there was illness, the qi in the body was either blocked, excessive, deficient, or unbalanced. Acupuncture was one way of restoring and balancing the flow of qi. By inserting needles in certain points along the meridians and manipulating the qi flowing through those meridians, organ function could be regulated. It can relax the muscles and inflammation is reduced. Pain can also be alleviated.
As Chinese physicians passed their carefully documented observations to protégés the systems were continually refined through trial and error process. Today acupuncture is benefiting from modern research techniques.
According to modern empirical research thus far there are three main mechanisms. It is important to note that western science still has not explained all of the observed effects of acupuncture, and research continues presently funded under National Institute of Health (NIH) study grants.
Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.
Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones in a good way. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.
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Moxibustion is a heat treatment that involves the use of the herb mugwort, or Artemesia vulgaris. Moxibustion is used to warm regions or specific acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points, and/or inducing a smoother flow of energy and blood.
The Chinese word zhenjiu (“jun geo”)– which is now commonly translated as “acupuncture” — originally describes the combination of acupuncture with moxibustion, or moxa-burning. The two techniques used to be understood as two essential parts of one fundamental approach to treating disease and maintaining health. In modern American acupuncture clinics, moxa is used very frequently but still gets far less media attention than acupuncture.
There are a variety of methods for the practice of moxibustion depending on the style of treatment and the condition of the patient. Traditionally, small amounts of the herb are burned directly on the skin, but we at The Paion Clinic for Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs use indirect moxibustion style. We use cigar or pole, platform, herb insulated moxibustion. To protect our own health, we avoid inhaling the thick smoke of regular moxibustion by mainly using a smokeless moxa pole, which is a rod of charcoal impregnated with moxa. The ignited pole is held above the point or area being treated, and does not come into contact with the skin. The patient experiences a warming sensation and reports feeling very comfortable and relaxed during the treatment.
Pain: One of moxa’s active components, borneol, is commonly used in topical therapies for its antiseptic and analgesic effects.
- Arthritis and other painful joint conditions
- Tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or repetitive strain injuries
- Sprains and Strains: Speeds healing of damaged tissue
- Muscle tension or stiffness: moxa relaxes tension and increases circulation
- Decrease swelling and inflammation
- Reproductive: Research has shown that moxa acts as an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and regulates menstruation.
- Menstrual cramps and pelvic inflammatory disease
- Enhance fertility via increased circulation of blood to uterus
- Turn breech babies to a normal position
- Reduce the intensity and duration of labor pains
- Labor induction
- Reduce the appearance of old scars
- Boost immune system for cold and flu treatment and prevention
- Chronic autoimmune-related illness
- Open bronchial airways for asthma
- Digestive disorders such as IBS and diarrhea
- Gastric, abdominal, or intestinal pains
- It can be used for treating children or those who are severely needle-phobic. Treating acupuncture points with moxa alone can gently stimulate the action of the point just through the heat and energy from moxa itself.
- In my personal clinical experience I have observed that moxa treatment used in combination with acupuncture often allows patients to enter a more relaxed state of rest than just acupuncture treatment alone. Within the first few minutes of moxibustion, I notice that my patients’ breathing becomes much deeper and slower as their body and mind let go of pent-up tension which is where the therapeutic value is added.
- Aside from being useful to treat the above conditions and as a preventative measure to maintain health, moxa has been known throughout the ages as an agent that can prolong life! Its famous reputation for promoting longevity goes back to ancient classic Chinese Medical texts.
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Cupping involves placing glass cups over the skin at key acupuncture points to produce a vacuum and promote the circulation of energy through the meridians. It can often be used in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis or for musculoskeletal pain along the back, neck, and shoulders.
How Does Cupping Work?
A vacuum is created in a glass or bamboo “cup” with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol (See Fig. 1). The cotton ball is ignited and inserted into the cup which will evacuate some air creating a vacuum (See Fig. 2). The cotton ball is withdrawn and the cup is quickly placed on the skin. The cup remains in place for 5-15 minutes and may leave a bruise. Sometimes a medium such as Kwan Loong oil is applied to the mouth of the cup or the patient’s skin, then the practitioner slides the cup along a large body surface such as the back or thigh until skin redness is noted. This technique is known as moving cupping or sliding cupping (See Fig. 3). Other methods of cupping combine the use of acupuncture needles or herbal medicine preparations such as ginger juice.
fig. 1 fig. 2 fig. 3
Is Cupping Painful?
Cupping is generally not painful. Some people who suffer from fibromyalgia or Epstein-Barr disease or other chronic muscular disorders or chronic viral diseases may feel some discomfort and should report it to their practitioner. Most patients report significant improvement after a cupping treatment.
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by Brian B. Carter, MS, LAc
Reprinted from www.pulsemed.org
This alternative medicine journal article reviews: Is Qi energy? Those who are fatigued, or always tired, will be particularly interested in Chinese Medicine’s views on qi.
This is one of the most common questions Americans ask about Chinese Medicine, and not an easy one to answer. Qi (pronounced “chee” and sometimes spelled ‘chi’) is possibly the most essential and the most controversial aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Biomedicine often feels it can quite easily dismiss parts or all of TCM by maintaining that modern science cannot verify the existence of qi. The false idea that qi is an ‘energy’ like electricity has worsened this controversy.
Is Qi Vital Energy?
Some TCM practitioners say qi is ‘energy.’ This is not too bad of an explanation. But don’t go away thinking we believe there are electrical circuits running through your body! Some scholars (D.E. Kendall, and Paul Unschuld) maintain that the idea of qi as ‘energy’ was a mistranslation from the Chinese.
Then What is It?
In terms of basic TCM ontology (“what exists”), Qi is one of the four basic constituents of the body:
|← Substance||Function →|
|← Cold||Hot →|
Consider this convenient car-engine analogy: Yin is water from the radiator to cool the engine, blood is oil, qi is the force that moves the pistons, and the engine can be said to be in a yang state when operating. Perhaps the explosion itself is yang, while the force of the explosion is qi. We can also say that the gas contains a qi that has yet to be utilized.
(In the actual chinese character for the word, qi is the steam rising from a cooking pot of rice. I hope that explanation made sense to ancient Chinese, because it doesn’t make much to me! To be fair to the ancient chinese, we can think of the steam coming from the rice as being less substantial, more yang than the rice itself, but still…)
What Happens Without Qi?
Another way to understand things is by their absence (darkness is defined as the absence of light). Without sufficient qi,
- your digestive system cannot break down food or transport nutrients to the rest of your body
- you become easily fatigued and are always tired
- you lose your appetite
- your limbs are heavy
- you might wake up frequently at night because you need to urinate
- academic/organizing thought is difficult or impossible
- everything is overwhelming (you cannot ‘digest’ what is going on)
- you tend to worry (the emotional component – TCM is a holistic medicine that does not separate body and mind)
How Do I Get More Qi?
- The proper diet goes a long way. TCM dietary principles are too complex to cover here (I must say though that it is surprising to many patients, perhaps because vegetarianism is thought to be synonymous with alternative medicine, that TCM advocates eating meat and mostly cooked foods).
- Herbs that increase the qi include ginseng, and codonopsis.
- Avoid activities that drain the qi – Be sensible about your energy expenditure by living a balanced life; don’t be too sedentary or too active. If you are a couch potato, your qi can’t flow without exercise. If you are a type-A personality, relax and don’t use yourself up too early in life – you may live to regret it!
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Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbs are an important aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The history of Chinese herbal medicine dates back even before the development of acupuncture. Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas that are specifically designed for the patients needs. The herbalist will make a diagnosis and prescribe a traditional formula that corresponds to the patient’s pattern and disease diagnosis.
If the patient is taking an herbal decoction or “tea”, then a formula can be custom designed, unique to the patient’s specific condition at that time. As the patient’s health changes so will the formula need to change to best fit the patient’s needs.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine is used to treat a variety of conditions and balance the body’s energies. Herbal medicine works well in combination with acupuncture to speed the healing process. Daniel is a board certified herbalist and has completed extra training in the usage of Chinese herbal medicine. He has a full herbal pharmacy of both single powdered herbs and patent formulas which gives him the unique ability to design a formula that is specifically made for you and your body.
Many prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs only treat symptoms and have side effects. When taken under the supervision of a trained practitioner, Chinese herbs have no side effects and treat the root cause of disease as well as the symptom. When patients are treated at the root level, symptoms do not readily return.
Topical herbal remedies, such as Green Willow Liniment for arthritic pain, are easy to self-prescribe
Before taking herbs notify your practitioner if:
- You are allergic to substances such as wheat, seafood or mushrooms.
- You are taking prescription medication. Some herbs may reduce the efficacy of important prescription medicines.
- You are taking other herbs or minerals.
- You are vegetarian, because some formulas contain animal products.
Treatments with herbs only and no acupuncture are available at The Paion Clinic Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs.
Before taking any herbs internally, Daniel L. Rasmussen MSAOM, L.Ac. urges the public to seek advice from a trained, qualified herbalist rather than self-administer herbs. A qualified practitioner is trained to understand the indications and contraindications of herbal administration. Just because a product is natural does not always mean it is safe. Herbs should be taken in specifically measured doses and many herbs should not be ingested for prolonged periods of time.
Have you asked yourself How Clean and Pure Are Chinese Herbs?(link to this web address: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cleanhrb.htm) Click the title to find out! This excellent article discussing the safety of Chinese herbs is written by Subhuti Dharmananda, founder of Institute for Traditional Medicine (ITM). Also check out this Factory Tour (link to this address: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/crudeherbs.htm) from the ITM website.
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Tuina is a specialized Chinese massage technique that literally translates as “push pull.” This technique involves brushing, kneading, rolling, or rubbing along specific areas of the body, meridians or acupuncture points to facilitate the movement of energy or blood. This is an excellent technique for both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.
World Health Organization List of conditions treated by Chinese Medicine
40 conditions acupuncture treats well According to World Health Organization (WHO)
- Abdominal pain, Constipation, Diarrhea, Hyperacidity
- Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Nervousness, Neurosis.
- Cataracts, Gingivitis, Poor vision, Tinnitis, Toothache.
- Infertility, Menopausal Symptoms, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Addiction control, Athletic performance, Blood pressure regulation, Chronic fatigue, Immune system tonification, Stress reduction.
- Arthritis, Back pain, Muscle cramping, Muscle pain, Muscle weakness, Neck pain, Sciatica.
- Headaches, Migraines, Neurogenic bladder, Parkinson’s disease, Postoperative pain, Stroke, Bell’s Palsy.
- Asthma, Bronchitis, Common cold, Sinusitis, Smoking cessation, Tonsillitis.
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Acceptance of Acupuncture in the United States
Source: Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance website
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is one of the fastest growing forms of health care in the United States. This explosion is due to the recognition by consumers and regulators of the safety, effectiveness and low cost of this form of health care.
- Over 40 states and the District of Columbia have recognized the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Legislation has been introduced in an additional four states.
- The FDA estimated in May 1993 that there were 9 to 12 million patient visits each year for acupuncture.
- Acupuncture has been cited by the World Health Organization to treat over forty-three conditions including allergies, asthma, back pain, carpal tunnel, colds and flu, constipation, depression, gynecological disorders, headache, heart problems, infertility, insomnia, pre-menstrual syndrome, sciatica, sports injuries, tendonitis and stress.
- The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is recognized by the United States Department of Education. Acupuncture is a three-year masters level program. Oriental medicine is a four-year masters level program.
- Acupuncture is used across the country in more than 20 states in over 800 drug dependency programs. Patients who go through these programs have lower re-arrest rates on drug-related charges than those not treated with acupuncture.
- The 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture stated, “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.”
- The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture recognized the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of several diseases and stated that “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.”
- A study in six clinics in five states showed efficacy and cost savings of acupuncture. Of the patients treated with acupuncture, 91.5% reported disappearance or improvement of symptoms; 84% said they see their MDs less; 79% said they use fewer prescription drugs and 70% of those to whom surgery had been recommended said they avoided it.
- The number of licensed acupuncturists in the U.S. has nearly tripled between 1992 and 2000, rising from 5,525 in the fall of 1992 to 14,228 in the fall of 2000.
- Controlled clinical trials in the United States have evaluated the use of acupuncture combined with standard stroke protocol for the treatment of paralysis due to stroke. Effective or markedly effective results were found for over 80% of the patients receiving acupuncture with a cost savings of $26,000 per patient.
- The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) offers three independent certification programs: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, and Asian Bodywork Therapy.
- In Miami-Dade County drug offenders have a choice of acupuncture or jail.
- Clinical studies indicate that acupuncture is effective in treating headache, dysmenorrhea, fibromyalgia, stroke, substance abuse, menopause, depression, female infertility, neck pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, morning sickness, respiratory disease, urinary dysfunction, tennis elbow and facial pain.
- A study by the New York advocacy group, Patients Have Rights, showed that 90% of the respondents had heard of Chinese medicine and acupuncture and 13% had used acupuncture. 80% of the respondents described their experience as “favorable” and 100% thought is it was important to have a choice in the type of medicine they use.
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General Information About Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
* Acupuncture.com: Comprehensive acupuncture resource
* Acupuncture Today: An open forum for acupuncture & oriental medicine
* Chinese medicine times: Online journal covering all aspects of Chinese medicine and acupuncture
* Doc Misha’s Chicken Soup Chinese Medicine: Easy-to-understand Chinese medicine
* National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture information
* National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: About certified practitioners
* Washington Association of Oriental Medicine
* Sleeping Disorders Guide: Your Guide to A-Z sleep disorders
Acupuncture News Resources
* Arthritis Foundation
* Medline Plus Arthritis Foundation
Other Health Related Sites
* Acne Treatments: Maureen Gillanders Body & Skin Care Clinics
* Alternative medicine resources: A health directory with links to useful alternative medicine websites for health professionals, patients and caregivers
* Banya 5 Urban Spa and wellness center
* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Safe Computing Tips: Learn about office ergonomics http://www.safecomputingtips.com/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.html
* Healing music: Enhanced healing through music
* Health World: General acupuncture information
* IBS Tales: Read the personal stories of IBS sufferers and share your own experiences
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment: Find an IBS treatment that works for you
* Online Alternative Medicine Guide: A website that provides free online resources on alternative medicine http://www.alternativemedicine4all.com/
* Online Cancer Guide: A comprehensive resource providing information on various types of cancers http://www.onlinecancerguide.com/
* Tendonitis.net: Tendonitis/tendinitis information and treatment options
* Vilberto C. Oliveira,B.Sc.(Pharm), JD, Dip.Posg.Acup: Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine links http://acupuncture.8k.com/acupvil.htm
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Cooking and Nutrition
Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair
Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Wholefood: Heal, Nourish, Delight by Jude Blereau
Staying Healthy With Nutrition, 21st Century Edition: The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine by Elson M. Haas, MD & Buck Levin, PhD, RD
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini
Coping with Food Intolerances by Dickson Thom, DDS, ND
The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal health through diet by Elaine Gottschall, Msc
The Gluten Connection by Shari Lieberman, PhD
The Eat Well Cookbook: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Recipes for Food Lovers by Jan Purser & Kathy Snowball
The Okinawa Program by Bradley J. Willcox, MD, D. Craig Willcox, PhD, & Makoto Suzuki, MD
The Mediterranean Diet by Marissa Cloutier, MS, RD & Eve Adamson
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