Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OM) is a complete medical system that includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Oriental massage, cupping, nutrition, and exercise. Practiced for over 3,000 years in China, OM and acupuncture views health as a constantly changing flow of energy, or ‘qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’). Energy circulates throughout the body along well-defined pathways called meridians or channels. Imbalances within this natural flow of energy are thought to result in ‘dis-ease’ or disharmony within the body. OM places an emphasis on understanding the underlying cause of the imbalance, not merely the symptoms and aims to restore health by improving and rebalancing the qi. OM recognizes climate, emotions, and lifestyle as the primary sources of pathogenic stress in the body. Sudden changes in the weather or extended exposure can leave the body vulnerable to attack by wind, heat, cold, dampness and dryness. Intense, prolonged or suppressed emotional reactions, such as anger, joy, grief, over-thinking, or fear can cause a disruption of the qi, or energy of the body. Overworking, prolonged sitting, lying down, or standing, overindulgence in or neglect of dietary needs lead to dis-ease.
This wholistic approach to health not only addresses physical complaints, but also emotional, environmental, and lifestyle conditions.
Acupuncture has evolved over 5000 years to treat people in a safe, painless and effective way. It utilizes the qi, the energy which flows along pathways called meridians traveling all throughout your body, each one connected to an organ system. Acupuncture points are found along these meridians and are used to balance qi-whether it is stuck or there is too little or too much.
The Japanese System of acupuncture utilizes a variety of diagnostic and treatment techniques. A great emphasis in diagnosis is placed on Hara–or abdomen–palpation, as well as meridian palpation and pulse diagnosis. It uses the finest needles made on the planet with superficial needling, using the least amount of points possible. It emphasizes treating both the root and branches of disharmony in the body. By treating them both, you are not putting a ìband-aidî on the symptoms; you are getting to the core issue and starting the process of healing.
Herbal remedies are used to re-balance the yin and yang of the body. They are classified under an elemental action according to tastes–sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. They are also delineated into hot and cold and work with specific action such as an herb that is drying maybe used for a condition with excess phlegm
Cupping includes using glass cups placed on acupuncture points or in a technique call moving cupping. A flame is placed inside the cup which creates a vacuum and then placed on the body where it ‘sucks up’ the skin. It is used to move stagnant qi and blood. I have had patients tell me it feels quite heavenly when done.
Moxibustion is used with an herb called mugwort. It can be used in various conditions and especially useful when there is qi or yang deficiency in the body and the person is cold. It is burned either indirectly using a stick or cones or directly using rice grain cones placed on acupuncture points.
There are several methods used to diagnose an imbalance within the body. Each set of diagnostic parameters provides one part of the whole picture. Each method confirms and validates the others. Palpation of the pulse, abdomen, and inspection of the tongue condition are the most important diagnostic tools.
The pulse reflects disharmony within the body. There are three positions and three levels (superficial, middle, and deep) felt on each wrist along the radial artery. Each position and level relates the integrity of the ‘qi and blood’ and functional activity of the organs. The strength, rate, rhythm, size and quality are felt. Each quality indicates a particular type of imbalance within the body. A normal pulse is said to be ‘spirited’ and the speed is between 4-5 beats per respiration.
The tongue is characterized by its color, body shape and size, texture and moisture. A healthy tongue fits in the mouth, is smooth, pink with a thin white coat. Changes in the tongue generally indicate long term disharmony within the body. There can be changes in one or all of the above characteristics depending on what is going on.
Abdomen diagnosis is emphasized greater in Japanese style acupuncture than in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The texture, quality, temperature, skin resiliency, and any pulsations are examined. Each area of the abdomen correlates to the qi quality within the organ systems. Tenderness, indurations, and resiliency is often felt in a specific area that corresponds to a disharmony in the body or organ system.
By taking an extensive intake and looking at these various diagnostic factors, a diagnosis can be reached and the appropriate treatment method can be used to rebalance and restore harmony to the system.
Probably one of the most common questions! The needles (especially the Japanese Style ones) are stainless steel, solid and hair-thin. Everyone of course experiences things differently, but for the most part there is little to no pain on insertion. Some people will feel extremely relaxed after, and some have more energy.
The FDA requires that sterile, non-toxic needles be used and are only to be used for single use by qualified practitioners. It is important to go to a licensed and qualified practitioner! If not serious complications can arise such as infection and organ puncture.
How much a person will be helped by OM depends on several factors. These include the nature and severity of the disorder and how long it has been happening. Again, the primary focus is to get to the underlying cause of the disorder to produce lasting results. You can get symptom relief much more quickly than correcting the illness. We are a lot like onions, made up of several layers, and my job is to discover and unravel the layers to get to the core. This is a unique process for everyone and the amount of time varies. Chronic disorders often take a bit more time than acute, which usually resolve after a few sessions.
I am a licensed acupuncturist. What this means is that I have gone to an accredited school (mine had over 3000 hours!) and have passed a national board exam to practice acupuncture and am licensed in the state of Oregon. Each state varies, but certification courses can have as little as 100 hours to practice acupuncture! It is important to go to a licensed practitioner who has put in the time to learn the intricacies and art of this amazing medicine.
I had severe back and hip pain from a work related injury and the pain completely resolved within a couple of months. Whenever you are having a bad day, come see Stephanie and she will definately brightn it!
- Zandrea, Portland, OR