Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is one of the therapies of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a written history in China greater than 2000 years but dating before recorded history. The ancient Chinese developed this unique medical system through diligent study of the body, mind, emotions, spirit and the natural world around them. You may have heard that they explained this system as based on the idea that pathways (meridians) of energy (qi) run in regular patterns throughout the body, and these pathways relate to the organs and systems of the body. During illness the qi is blocked, excessive, deficient or otherwise imbalanced, and acupuncture is one way of restoring and balancing its flow.

 

Through continued study of the body, we now understand that with acupuncture, we are accessing nerve-rich areas of the body, and these “meridians” are nerve pathways which conduct information to and from the brain which is the control center of the body.  We are stimulating the body’s self-heal mechanisms via nerves, muscle, fascia, the organs and other tissue in order to make desired changes.

 

Acupuncture uses extremely fine needles as conductors, and by inserting needles into specific points of increased conductivity in the body, we stimulate reactivity in the brain that can then regulate organ function, improve energy and mood, promote relaxation, reduce inflammation, pain and the stress response. Acupuncture is currently used by at least quarter of the world’s population, and its popularity is growing rapidly in the West as scientific trials prove its efficacy.

 

Every individual is made up of a unique combination of constitution, health history, family history, environment, diet, emotions, beliefs, thought patterns and more; therefore every treatment is specifically tailored to you as a whole being.

HOW CAN CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE HELP?

Herbal medicine is another branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine that is used to  increase efficacy of your treatments.  Many health issues today occur after a long term of imbalance, and the body requires substance in order to effect change. The wonderful addition of herbal medicine means that your condition is being treated daily even between office visits.  After diagnosing your particular pattern of imbalance and administering your acupuncture treatment, I usually prescribe an herbal formula based on your constitution, environment and medical condition. Herbal medicines combined with acupuncture accelerate healing significantly, thus compliance with your prescriptions is essential for optimal recovery. I may prescribe herbs at the first visit or may wait a few visits to learn more about your condition. An herbal formula may come in various forms: capsules, tablets, liquids, powders, or teas. The best results are achieved with formulas mixed specifically for your needs, so I most often use granular formulas that allow me to individualize your prescription. Herbs have different flavors, and individual tastes may vary; some formulas taste good while others do not. Like any new habit, you may have to work consciously at first to take herbs as prescribed, but once you have taken them for a reasonable length of time, the great results you achieve will help you continue. I have many ideas for more easily consuming your formulas.

ARE CHINESE HERBALS SAFE?

I only use companies that source and test their products extensively for heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria and other undesirable residue.  For information on these testing procedures, you can read more here.

WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBAL MEDICINE TREAT?

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as effective treatment for many disorders, including but not limited to the following:
  • Gynecological disorders such as irregular or heavy periods, infertility, PMS, pregnancy concerns, postpartum recovery and menopausal symptoms

  • Muscular/skeletal disorders such as acute or chronic pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and arthritis pain

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Hypertension

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia and other mood disorders

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, colitis, indigestion, gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome

  • Urogenital disorders such as chronic urinary tract infections or incontinence

  • Respiratory disorders such as allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis

  • Addictions such as cigarette smoking, food bingeing, drug abuse

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY FIRST VISIT?

Please come to your first visit prepared with our intake forms completed to allow more time for your visit. If you do not have your registration forms completed in advance, please notify me and then arrive 30 minutes early to complete forms, or we may have to use your visit time for them.  Either wear loose fitting clothing, or be prepared to disrobe privately and be treated while covered with a light blanket.

 

The first visit is my opportunity to get to know you in our casual, relaxed atmosphere. I consider the development of our relationship paramount in your path to healing with acupuncture and herbal medicine, and I take the time to do that well. Expect the first visit to take 1.5 – 2 hours while subsequent visits may last 30-90 minutes. Children’s visits may be shorter depending on their abilities. I will complete a detailed intake in order to learn about your symptoms and how they may be interrelated. In addition to listening, other diagnostic tools include observing details of your tongue, palpating your abdomen and acupuncture meridians and feeling your pulses. Once I insert the needles you will have time to relax for about 15 to 30 minutes. I usually prescribe an individualized herbal formula for most patients by the end of the treatment which we will discuss during your visit.

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE FEEL?

Every person is comprised of a complex array of life experiences, so individuals feel acupuncture needling differently, and likewise, depending on your constitution, different acupuncture points in the body can have different reactions to needling. Most people feel only a minimal poke as the needles are inserted, and some feel no discomfort at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain, but a sensation of heaviness, throbbing, warmth or tingling may be felt at the insertion site. You may feel a deep sense of relaxation and release during and after treatments. Some prefer a very light touch while others prefer and need a deeper needling sensation, so my technique will vary. I encourage clear communication, and through the development of our relationship during visits, I learn what style works best for you.

For people who remain very concerned about the needles, it is possible to use non-needle therapies and still achieve results, or we can utilize only herbal medicine for treatment. We can also use the initial visit as an opportunity for discussion and lifestyle recommendations rather than actual treatment if that is more comfortable for you. I use only sterile, disposable needles, so the risk of infection is minimal to none.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

Every person and condition is unique so it is impossible to give an estimated course of treatment before your first office visit. Depending on the nature, severity and duration of the complaint, the course of treatment will vary. Most short-term problems can be helped quickly, while more chronic conditions may be relieved only with time and effort. For example, an acute cough might take only one or two treatments, while a patient being treated for long term gynecological complaints might need to receive twice-weekly treatments for several weeks before diminishing frequency. The speed of progress with long-standing chronic issues is very much determined by the patient’s willingness to make lifestyle and diet changes in conjunction with the treatment.

 

Once initial complaints are diminished, many patients use acupuncture monthly or quarterly to maintain their health and to prevent imbalances from turning into disease.

WHAT OTHER TYPES OF TREATMENT MIGHT AN ACUPUNCTURE VISIT INCLUDE?

Every person and condition is unique so it is impossible to give an estimated course of treatment before your first office visit. Depending on the nature, severity and duration of the complaint, the course of treatment will vary. Most short-term problems can be helped quickly, while more chronic conditions may be relieved only with time and effort. For example, an acute cough might take only one or two treatments, while a patient being treated for long term gynecological complaints might need to receive twice-weekly treatments for several weeks before diminishing frequency. The speed of progress with long-standing chronic issues is very much determined by the patient’s willingness to make lifestyle and diet changes in conjunction with the treatment.

 

Once initial complaints are diminished, many patients use acupuncture monthly or quarterly to maintain their health and to prevent imbalances from turning into disease.

Electro-acupuncture (e-stim)

Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates electric pulsation. This therapy can augment the use of needles alone and is particularly good for treating pain. Watch a treatment here.

Moxa

Moxibustion is a form of heat treatment that stimulates specific acupuncture points of the body. It is typically derived from the herb Artemisia and comes in different forms. In conjuction with acupuncture, moxibustion can be very effective for many conditions including back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, migranes, tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders, anxiety and female health problems such as menstrual cramps, irregular periods and infertility. Watch a moxa treatment here.

Cupping

Cupping is another type of treatment. This is a method of stimulating acupuncture points by applying suction through a glass jar or plastic cup, in which a partial vacuum has been created. This technique produces blood congestion at the site, and therefore stimulates it. Cupping is used for low backache, sprains, soft tissue injuries, relieving lung congestion and common colds.

Watch a cupping treatment here.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a technique used to release muscle tension, constriction and pain. A specialized tool is used to rub the skin over a problem area. The technique feels somewhat like a deep massage and may leave redness that dissipates in a few days to a week. Cell metabolism produces waste products which are slowly eliminated through the lymphatic system; gua sha or cupping promote this process by drawing toxins to the skin where the subcutaneous lymphatic capillaries are, speeding up

the body’s ability to heal. Where the blood has been forced from the capillaries, new blood must flow in. The body must also clean up the blood no longer in the capillaries. The result of these two processes is an improvement in the circulation in the area. If muscles are so tight that they have low blood flow, then nourishment, oxygen and healing cells cannot flow into them, and waste products cannot flow out.

Watch a gua sha treatment here.

IS ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBAL MEDICINE APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN?

I begin by not assuming that the child is afraid of needles, and I take time to carefully explain the process and demonstrate it on a toy or the accompanying adult. Once a child is amenable, he or she is usually surprised to find that the discomfort is minimal to none. Even babies can receive acupuncture and usually exhibit no signs of discomfort but only curiosity in wanting to play with the needles. While 

some children respond better if parents are not present in the room, others prefer to sit in a parent’s lap during treatment.

 If acupuncture is not appropriate for a particular child, a needle-less technique is available using either electro-stimulation or shonishin. An electro-stimulation machine delivers very tiny pulses through a wand to acupuncture points chosen specifically for each child. Children report that it feels like a little “tickle.” Shonishin differs from standard acupuncture in that there is no piercing of the skin. This technique uses a variety of different metal implements to gently stimulate. Acupuncture for children can treat a variety of conditions including:

  • Immune system boosting

  • Allergies, sinus congestion & asthma

  • Digestive disorders

  • Joint and muscular pain

  • Recovery from injuries

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety & depression

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wild Harmony Wellness

3633 Camino del Rio South   Suite 206   San Diego California   92108  Phone   619 286 2888   Fax   844 270 6347  •  vickii@wildharmonywellness.com