Chinese medical practitioners have to be good at figuring out what is wrong. We will very often see patients who have been to every type of doctor to answer this question and they still do not have an answer. Sometime they have spent thousands of dollars in tests and specialists and no guess. So, since the tests have been run and the results are negative, someone must still be able to figure it out. Often we are able to to do this, because that's just how our medicine works - 5000 years of observing how a human works (not how mitochondria work but how humans work). Also, and I have mentioned this before, sometimes what is needed is a different perspective, a different angle to look at the problem. Our regular patients all know that it's probably best to at least 'bounce' a new health problem off us - before the testing begins. Most issues have a simple solution, so its always best to look for that solution first. And common ailments are by definition the ones that will turn up the most.
Thanksgiving is next week and it's almost mandatory to overeat. I am not going to say anything negative about that because I think its OK. There is a part of many diets nowadays that recommends a cheat day. A cheat day is a day where you break your diet and eat the way you really want to eat, to enjoy it, to celebrate that you did so well sticking to your diet for six days in a row. To me this makes sense because eating is something that contributes a good amount to our happiness. If we are trying to lose weight then we have to make sacrifices, just like with any goal that doesn't come easy. But if you never get a break from that sacrifice then it will wear you down and you will most likely quit (unless you have amazing willpower). One thing about most Americans is that we want immediate or near immediate results from our actions. But diets take time. It takes time to change the composition of your body. It doesn't, cannot, happen overnight. It is best to learn to be patient with ourselves and the process and try not to get discouraged if we stray from the path. So eat as much as you want for Thanksgiving, because one day does not make or break a diet.
Acupuncture I feel is one of the best ways to treat TMJ. There are really not many effective ways to treat it with conventional western medicine. Because of this we get a good number of referrals from western docs for this common issue. Often there is neck tightness associated with TMJ, so that needs to be addressed as well. Acupuncture points in the area as well as some light cupping can be very effective is releasing the pain from the joint. Of course the root cause of this issues is most often the holding of stress in the neck and jaw, and usually involves grinding of the teeth while sleeping or even during the day often unconsciously. Because of this, we will often prescribe Chinese herbs to relax the jaw before bed (or even during the day). I like xiao yao san for doing this, or if sharp pains are involved tong qiao huo xue tong works well.
Many of our patients who come in for acute or chronic conditions end up staying. We hope that patients who come in for acute conditions will be impressed enough with us and our medicine to come back for other conditions that come up over the months and years. This seems to be the case much of the time. After 12 years in private practice a large percentage of our patients are return patients and referrals from them. Chronic conditions, such as back pain that has been around for 25 years or MS or rheumatoid arthritis, may be much better after a round of treatments. But some conditions will persist at a lower level, so often these patients will come in for maintenance treatments or tune ups. Some of these patients will come in as needed, if things flare up. Some will come in for instance once a month or even every 6 weeks to keep the symptoms at bay. Because we also work on your general health with each visit, patients often report that their overall health gets better.
Most people in the US do not know that much about Chinese medicine. But more and more people are taking an interest - for various reasons. Most of our regular patients take advantage of the healing abilities of Chinese medicine for many of their health issues. This includes things like the common cold, the flu, sinus or respiratory infections. Acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs can significantly help your body heal from these conditions quicker, usually without having to take regular antibiotics (which don't work anyway for viral infections which 90% of these infections are). There are some amazing formulas for colds, one of which called yin qaio can actually stop a cold dead in its tracks if taken early enough. Many of our long-time patients also report to us that they get sick much less than they did before acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This is because bringing balance to the body with regular visits makes or body more resilient. You can read about some of the many things that we treat on our conditions page.
Many new patients ask, 'does it hurt?' Of course they are asking about the needles. Many people are curious about acupuncture. But just as many people are not curious or don't even consider acupuncture, because of the needles. Almost everyone we see who is concerned about the pain involved breathes a sigh of relief after we insert the first needle and - they don't even feel it. So the answer to this question is that the needles are almost never an issue. Acupuncture is not painful, but it is very relaxing. After the needles are inserted the patient gets to relax for around 35 minutes. Many will fall asleep. Acupuncture causes a deep relaxation in most people beyond the normal state of relaxation. Some say acupuncture actually calms the sympathetic nervous system, the fight of flight response. For many people getting acupuncture does not even cross their minds until a friend or family member tells them of their great results, or a pet gets great results from it. Acupuncture is getting more and more popular more and more accepted and commonplace.
We are built to last, to survive. Mickey Mantle of the NY Yankees, one of the best players ever, is famous for saying, 'If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.' But the Mick lived a bit too hard and his last years were not good ones. I am surprised at the wide ranges of health in my patients of similar ages. I see patients that are 40 and they are old. I had someone walk into the office who was 95 and his handshake nearly crushed my hand. Some of this of course is genetics. But much of this is how we take care of ourselves. I believe a holistic approach to health and lifestyle, as advanced by Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine, can be extremely helpful in maximizing our health at any age. Its never too late to start taking better care of yourself.
Many people believe that the acupuncture mainly treats pain. While it is true that acupuncture is great at treating pain, it important to know that is can treat an extremely wide range of issues. It is its own separate form of medicine. We see a lot of skin conditions in our practice and the important thing to know with these is that it's rarely the skins fault. Skin conditions are almost always caused by an internal condition manifesting itself on the skin. So the skin issue is a symptom of something going on much deeper. I think of it as something is trying to exit the body, and the easiest way to do this is through the skin (since the skin is on the outside and there is a great deal of surface area). So, of course you must treat the condition from the inside out. This can be done with select acupuncture points, Chinese herbs, and often dietary changes. Inflammation is often a factor and the cause of the inflammation is the root cause of the condition.
Inflammation seems to be at least a contributing factor in many health problems. So it's important to keep inflammation in check. Acupuncture and herbs is a natural, safe and effective way to do this without the adverse side effects of drugs such as prednisone. In Chinese medicine inflammation is called heat and there are many acupuncture points for clearing heat in the body. My favorite point for this (since you asked) is LI11 (Quchi). But that is just one of many. There are many Chinese herbs for cutting inflammation, in fact the popular tumeric, used by droves of people for this purpose, is actually a Chinese herb called jiang huang. And there are many others that actually work even better than tumeric. Cutting inflammation in the body is just one of the many health promoting benefits of adding acupuncture and herbs into your health regimen.
We see back pain cases essentially daily at the Acupuncture Center. One reason may be that there are just so many people out there with back pain. Its a vulnerable area or our body. In fact most of us will have some amount of back pain at some point in our lives. Another reason we feel like we are seeing more back pain is that acupuncture is becoming more accepted as a viable alternative to the usual western treatments which are pills, surgery, or physical therapy. Recent scientific studies have shown that it works very well for pain in general and back pain in particular. Also, the Olympics brought attention to cupping, a Chinese medicine staple, that has actually been popular there for over four thousand years. We almost always will do cupping after an acupuncture session for back pain. We treat back pain with more of a holistic approach, looking not at just the back but the body as a whole, to solve the problem and make the back less susceptible to injury.