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Reasons Why We Choose Acupuncture – Reason 2

One Good reason:  Avoiding the drug / Surgery cascade

 

While the addage ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is still meaningful and relevant, eating a healthy diet is not the only thing you can do to prevent developing disease.   There is an ancient Chinese proverb ‘the best physician has no sick patients’.  This speaks to the fact that long ago physicians were adept at spotting imbalances before illness developed.  This is what I and my fellow Chinese medical practitioners strive for as well.  We look at the tongue, feel the pulse, feel the abdomen, ask questions, and then gain an understanding of the inner patterns that are becoming out of balance. We can notice the minor annoyances, irritations, things that maybe the patient doesn’t think is anything to consider.  And we know the systems that need attention in order to prevent problems from worsening, and symptoms from getting more severe.  Then it’s the patient’s job to follow through on the prescribed treatment plan.

 

Many young people today are barraged with problems resulting from stress.  Many people deal with it, thinking everyone feels that way.  I have patients who come because they don’t feel good.  The doctor says you’re fine, and offers perhaps an anti-anxiolytic or anti-depressant, or birth control to “regulate the hormones”.  However, in my clinic, I just see an overall healthy youthful person who just needs some gentle acupuncture and perhaps a course of gentle herbs to adjust the mechanism in the body causing dis-ease.

 

I’m very passionate about helping teens and young adults to avoid medications, or to discontinue medications.  Allow the body to heal itself!

I have had numerous cases of young women being faced with starting birth control for hormonal imbalances, and not for birth control.  E’s mom called me because of miserable menstrual cycles every month (headaches, nausea, pain, fatigue). They were about ready to follow the pediatrician’s advice to start oral contraceptive.  After one treatment, her cycle came at the expected time, but without all the awful symptoms. It was easy for the first time in many months.  Continuing consistent treatments for 2- 4 cycles usually results in greatly reducing premenstrual and menstrual symptoms while regulating.  Here’s my blog about the guidelines for a healthy cycle.

 

This also applies to the way menstrual imbalances if left untreated can result in surgical procedures such as hysterectomy because that is a common solution offered by conventional medicine.  By treating imbalances throughout our life cycle, we can often head off crises and prevent drastic measures.   Before suffering for extended periods of time with excessive bleeding, seek care that takes you the whole person into account.  Starting with less invasive measures when problems arise can truly make a difference.

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What does a normal menstrual cycle look like?

Here are the guidelines that I look for my patients to fall within for a healthy menstrual cycle and the fluctuations that indicate the need for attention.

 

Week before the period – Premenstrual Time

A normal cycle does not require there be symptoms or changes before menstruation begins.  A very mild brief breast tenderness or brief mild mood change is not very alarming, although still indicates a tendency to what we call Qi stagnation.  Lots of cramps, fatigue, bloating, back ache, headache, moodiness, constipation, and sore breasts are all symptoms of imbalance that can be treated with acupuncture and/or herbs.

 

The menstrual period

The flow should last between 3-7 days total, and going 2 hours or longer before needing to change a pad or tampon is an ok amount. Although heavier flow should not last more than about 3 days. Changing every hour and a half or less is considered too heavy, assuming a thicker absorbant is used.

Mild cramping sensation for a day or less can be typical, as long as it does not interfere with anything you’re trying to do.  If you are reaching for an over the counter pain reliever, this can be addressed naturally with acupuncture and/or herbs. Cramps again indicates stagnation, which means energy or blood flow is impaired.  Exactly what we specialize in with Chinese Medicine!

There should be no headaches, no nausea and no vomiting.

Bowel movements should not be constipated or loose or frequent (more than 3 formed).

Clots that are small and not painful to pass are ok and normal.  Clots bigger than a nickel or so, especially quarter sized or larger, are not normal. Pain with passing clots is also not normal and indicates an imbalance.

First color to last color longer than 7 days indicates imbalance.  Some spotting at the beginning or end of the flow can be ok as long as total color is 7 days or less.

Dark color, brown color or pale or pink color all are bits of information we use to diagnose the imbalances as well.

 

After the Flow

If you are really tired or weak after the period, or get headaches after, this indicates deficiency that is also important to address.

Day One to Day One should be from 24 to 33 days or so, with 28 being the average.  Shorter than that or longer than that can indicate imbalance that can be adjusted.  If you fluctuate month to month from the shorter end to the longer end of normal or more, this too is too much irregularity.

 

These are general guidelines.  Traditional East Asian medicine is well suited to identifying and treating smaller imbalances before they snowball into worse problems.

Don’t just suck it up

Let’s admit it, since it’s been a man’s world, there’s been a lack of sensitivity to the monthly cycle of women, and a culture of just suck it up, everyone deals with it.  If it were a woman’s world, i think we’d have 1 day a month to just rest.  Despite all the wonderful things chiense medicine can do, the day before or day one of our period can be a time of low energy and needing to hunker down and rest.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.  We don’t have to go go go 24/7/365.  However, if it’s a struggle for you every month, and you can’t do what you want to do without a struggle, then please know you’re not alone, and there are solutions.  And birth control is not the only option.

 

You deserve to be seen, to be heard, and to be cared forCall today to see if we’d be a fit to work together!

Here’s to taking back our Menstrual Health!

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Reasons Why Series – Reason 1

One Good Reason:  Treating Medication Side Effects

Drugs are amazing.  They help a lot of people prevent and manage illnesses.  But let’s face it, most drugs have side effects.  Not for every person, but for the majority of patients one or more side effects shows up, sometimes to the point of outweighing the benefits.   In response, your doctor may suggest or prescribe a secondary medication to address that side effect.  And so the cascade of pharmaceuticals goes.  
As an acupuncturist, I see a lot of people who are trying to avoid or reduce dependence on medications.  
 

Here’s the story of a woman we’ll call A. 

She takes a medication daily to prevent cancer recurrence.  A. is so grateful for this important drug, however she happens to be one of the 27% who gets a non-serious heart problem as a side effect.  For her, it’s thumping and skipping beats – really uncomfortable.  The doctor reassures her the palpitations, called PACs, are benign, and prescribes a beta blocker to address the misfiring of the heart’s rhythm.  Concerned about the beta blocker’s own list of various side effects, she takes a friend’s advice and tries acupuncture.  And guess what – after one week of treatment – the disturbing heart-attack-like feeling decreased dramatically to mild and less often. 
In less than 3 weeks, the skipping and thumping abated so much, and stayed so mild, that we were able to incorporate treatment of secondary complaints while continuing to address the heart’s signaling imbalance to ensure it continued to regulate and heal.  
Now we’re starting to space treatments further apart as symptoms continue to improve and not return between visits.  She went from having to take this beta blocker when it got bad (a few times a week), to not touching the stuff! 

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How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will You Need?

Let’s dive right in to what it takes to get results from acupuncture.  How many treatments, how frequently, and why.

 

Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture is a therapy.  This means that each treatment builds on the next.  We can compare this to taking a medication.  Lots of people are familiar with how that works.  You get diagnosed, and then you get prescribe a dose based on your condition.  How long have you had it, how severe, how many complications are there, etc.

Like taking a medication, acupuncture does require consistency.  Your job is showing up for your appointments, and relaxing during treatment.   

Because acupuncture is based on Wholism, the whole person and the whole person’s life and habits are taken into account.  Your practitioner may assign homework for between visits or suggest lifestyle tweaks.

So besides keeping your appointments, another part of your job may be making small manageable changes at your own pace to help align your daily life toward your health goals.

Now back to the original question.  How many treatments will you need? This will vary based on the same factors for determining a medication dose.  Each acupuncture treatment is “1 dose”.  Based on the practitioner’s assessment of the severity and chronicity of your problem, and your goals, she will determine how often to come in and for how long.

 

Acute Problems

Acute problems are those that have been lingering for less than 3 months, in general.  So if your back pain just started last week, get in and get it treated right away, and you may be fixed in one treatment.  However, if the reason for this back pain is for example uterine fibroids, or a prolapse, or diabetes, or other chronic and complicated issue, then the back pain may not be totally fixed quickly.  We will likely want to address the underlying issue.  

 

Chronic Problems

More often, I see a lot of chronic complaints.  Chronic means it’s been going on for more than 3 months.  For example, you’ve had sinus congestion or painful periods or no periods for 5 years.  Or 10 years.  Or…. well you get it.  People often don’t seek treatment but instead just “deal with it”.  The longer the body-mind is “talking” to you with symptoms, and the longer the communication goes ignored, the more problems can compound and wear on your energy reserves.  Symptoms need attention to prevent worsening over time. 

 

The Treatment Plan

Most acute problems we estimate will take around 6 acupuncture treatments.  Because chronic problems vary so much, and are often so complex and intertwined, we estimate about 10-12 treatments, in general, for some significant results, meaning some things are staying improved between treatments.   The nice thing is there will be gradual improvements along the way as the treatment plan progresses.   I am perpetually amazed at what this medicine can do. 

Once improvements are sustaining longer periods between treatments, and you are feeling pretty good, then we begin a maintenance program, where you come in for “meridian tune-ups” once every 4-8 weeks.  This keeps the engine humming along and prevents relapse.  

 

The Whole Model – The Foundation

Acupuncture is part of the system of medicine called Chinese Medicine (CM) or Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM).  This is a TOTALLY different approach than Conventional AKA Western AKA Allopathic Medicine.  It’s hard to look at acupuncture through the lens of modern medicine and totally understand it.  The basic principles are very different.

TEAM practitioners are interested in treating the whole person.  What is her spirit like? What is her sleep like? Does she have normal elimination and excretion? How can we facilitate her natural healing abilities in order to improve her quality of life ?

a vibrant you through acupuncture

Quality of Life

Bottom line, what do we all want when we make the call or search on Google to find a practitioner of some sort? We want to improve our quality of life.  If you can get pregnant, if you can not miss school or work every month, if you can sleep through the night, if you can go for long walks, whatever your goal, what are you willing to pay? Where in your priorities does it fall? Can you visualize what future you want, and start actualizing it now because the future begins in this very moment?  This is called a personal investment.  And it’s up to you to decide what you want, and how you want to get it.

 

Investment

When someone asks what acupuncture costs, or says they can’t afford to keep coming, I totally understand.  I grew up very modestly, and my family never seemed to have enough funds.  But like education, health is an investment in the future You.  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a way to improve your quality of life on every level.  By addressing root imbalances, your branches will grow stronger and those branches will bear more fruit – aka servicing others, creativity, or whatever else you are here to do.

 

if you made it this far…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you got some insight from it.  At the very least maybe you know if this is a route you want to go down.  And please call me for a no obligations chat if you have any questions at 630-335-1069 (textable).

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Treating the Whole Person, a Basic Concept in Chinese Medicine

Because Chinese Medicine developed approximately 2,000 or so years ago, it is a completely different yet complete system of medicine.  Imagine what life was like then.  People were completely dependent on the land around them, and very in touch with the stars, the sun, the moon, and the Earth.  Everything was studied and principles of nature were deduced, and then applied to their lives for their benefit.  When to plant what crop where, where to build a house, when to harvest which crop, and what plants can heal what malady.

To understand Chinese Medicine, one should consider the concept of the human as a microcosm of the macrocosm.  All the laws that govern the natural world apply to us too. 

I won’t go into detail because it takes a full course of study to grasp – I could refer you to some books if you want to learn more about chinese medical theories.  But I do want you to understand that by approaching the human organism in this way, you are viewed as a Whole person.  No part is separate, and everything is interconnected.  What happens to your left foot can affect your right hand, what you think can affect your digestion.  Your experiences are stored as memories in your subconscious which can interact with and disrupt or enhance your physiology.

In other words, mind-body-spirit are one.  This is sometimes called Wholism.  It is not woo woo or foo foo.  This is the original medicine. 

Earth Sun Moon as macrocosm

You’ve experienced the failures of conventional medicine or you wouldn’t be reading this. You’ve been frustrated by the one size fits all approaches, and the negative side effects overshadowing the thing you took the pill for in the first place.  Or you know there’s got to be a different way.

Luckily for us Americans, a bunch of brilliant scholars and physicians of this medicine translated the important teachings passed down through the centuries and learned this medicine the traditional way – from teacher to student, master to future master. 

In this way, there’s a bridge from the old knowledge of how everything in nature (which includes us!) works and how to use our natural resources and our innate healing abilities to live more purposeful, fruitful, abundant lives. 

Tap in to this wisdom – learn about and trust your own power. You are whole and complete.    

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