Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: Can it help me?

You may have found yourself wondering about “alternative” medicine and if there is anything it can offer you. You may have heard how Sandra Bullock has her own personal acupuncturist who travels with her everywhere, including from movie set to movie set. You may have also heard how the Olympic teams have acupuncturists on staff for the athletes. You may find yourself wondering if this is just a Hollywood craze or if there is any benefit to what millions of people across the U.S. and billions over the world are using on a daily basis to help with all kinds of ailments.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This system of medicine has been used for more than 3,000 years in China and is still used today as one of the main modalities of medicine. If you think of its history, there is hardly anything “alternative” about it. A visit to a doctor who practices TCM differs from a visit to your primary care doctor in several ways. Your first visit can be up to 1 ½ hours long, and a detailed medical history is taken. Unlike your primary care doctor, who seems rushed all the time and doesn’t have time to listen to you fully, TCM doctors want to hear everything you have to say because that is one of the main ways to gather information about your condition. Other diagnostic techniques used include feeling your pulse on both wrists in three different positions and looking at your tongue. The blood pressure may be taken, and your heart and lungs may be checked using a stethoscope.

Another main difference is that you and a friend may have the same medical problem, and your primary care doctor may have both of you on the same medication, but your acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine visit would not be the same. It is very likely that different points and different herbal medicine will be prescribed for the same condition. The reason for this is that each person is different, and the way a disease or illness manifests in each person can be very different. The treatment is always customized and tailored for each patient. In this way, we avoid needless side effects, and treatments are very successful.

You may be wondering what types of problems can be treated using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and how many treatments are necessary. Well, we can pretty much treat any medical condition. Commonly, people come in for back pain, arthritis, PMS, menstrual cramps, stress, asthma, migraines/headaches, sports injuries, fibromyalgia, anxiety, insomnia, digestive disorders, food allergies, seasonal allergies, joint pain and stiffness, post-surgical pain, and to minimize scars from injuries and surgery. Generally, six to eight treatments are necessary and then occasional treatments to keep the system in balance. Treatments are generally given once a week, and Chinese herbal medicine is prescribed to be taken on a daily basis to help enhance the acupuncture treatments.

You may also be wondering if acupuncture hurts. Well, when the hair-thin needle is initially inserted, you may feel a slight sensation like a mosquito bite. After that, the sensation you feel on the point can vary from heaviness, distension, a slight ache, electrical feeling, etc. Each point can feel different. Generally, once all the needles are in (it can vary between four-20 needles per treatment, depending on the condition), patients generally feel extremely relaxed.

Jasmine Patel graduated from Bastyr University with a degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She went to China and did advanced internships in a hospital in Shanghai, China, and completed a one-year residency in Chinese Medicine at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. She is a licensed acupuncturist in the states of Washington and Wisconsin and is pending licensure in Illinois. To make an appointment with her, call 815-963-3755.

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