Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture are said to be a holistic therapy. But what does it really mean?
Firstly, it means that when doing a diagnostic, the practitioner looks and treats the person as a whole, not just the symptoms. So it is not unusual that a patient coming for, let’s say lower back pain, sees changes and improvements in other areas of their life too, for example their energy levels.
It also means that the acupuncturist will look at both the roots (the ‘cause’ of the disease) and the branches (the ‘symptoms’ of the disease). One way to look at it is to think about a tree with its roots and its branches. If you cut the branches (symptoms), they are likely to grow again (so the symptoms come back). If you cut the roots (address the root causes of the imbalance), then the tree and the branches are unlikely to grow again and you will be able to stay symptom free.
The idea is that the patient will get relief from the symptoms by addressing the branches but will also get long term relief by addressing the roots.
Finally, it means that when doing a diagnosis, the acupuncturist will take everything into account, from the patient’s physical imbalances and/or emotional issues to the environment the patient lives in (eg: type of work, family circumstances, lifestyle…) and their diet. The practitioner will then be able to create a treatment adapted to that specific patient.
For me, it symbolizes my commitment to each patient in finding lasting solutions to their health needs, not just temporary fixes.
I don’t know about you but with the temperatures going down, I have seen more and more people coming up with a cold recently. Some people seem to get one cold after the other during the whole winter whilst others just sail through and never seem to be ill. So what can you do to be in that latest category of people?
According to Chinese Medicine, a cold or flu is the invasion of a pathogenic factor. To avoid an invasion, you should avoid the pathogenic factors and have enough defensive energy to repel them. So what should you do?
1- Avoid getting cold. Having enough layers on, not going out with damp/wet hair, not going to bed with wet hair all help to prevent colds (There is some truth in our grand-mothers’ advice!).
2- Protect your kidneys. If there is one area that needs to stay covered, it’s the lower back.
3- Eat well cooked simple foods. So slow cooking dishes, soups, stews should be an important part of a strengthening diet. On the other side, raw and cold foods such as ice-cream, salads and other raw vegetables should be avoided.
4- Avoid dampness in your environment (such as a damp house but also like staying in a wet swimming costume) and in your diet. Dampening foods such as dairy products (except a little butter and yogurt), ice cream and foods full of sugar are all mucus forming and contribute to the apparition of colds.
5- Sleep well, at least 8 hours a night. It doesn’t sound like rocket science but you do need 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep every night. Going to bed before 11 o’clock also helps.
And if you still get a cold? As soon as you feel the symptoms of the cold coming, you can try to drink a herbal tea made of fresh ginger (grated or sliced) and sliced onion.
And if everything fails, take it easy. Rest is still the best medicine.
Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by both physical and psychological symptoms that can be detrimental to one’s normal daily functioning. Depressed individuals often suffer from poor sleeping habits, crying spells, anxiety, worry, poor memory, inability to concentrate, body aches, stomach disturbances and a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. In most cases, the treatment involves antidepressant and/or counselling.
So can Acupuncture help with low mood and depression? A recent study on acupuncture in the treatment of major depressive disorder
shows that acupuncture could be a safe and effective treatment for depression, even when standard antidepressant medications aren’t suitable, giving hope for the thousand of people suffering from depression every year.
Firstly, it is worth to note that Chinese medicine does not recognize depression as an illness as such. But it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual to restore balance within the person, addressing at the same time body, mind and emotions.
As a general rule, Chinese Medicine associate depression with Deficiency and 2 organs, the Heart (the organ associated with Joy) and the Spleen (the organ associated with being grounded and content, or its opposite worry). Quite often, there is also involvement of the Liver (the organ asociated with stress) so not only people are feeling bad but they can also experince more stress!
Once the patterns (diagnosis) are determined, the acupuncturist can select a combination of points which are specific to that individual. The practitioner can also advise on dietary changes and lifestyle changes.
Finally, certain acupuncture points have been shown to affect areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety and worry . This can probably explain why so many patients find acupuncture treatment in itself so relaxing (a lot of people actually fall alseep during the treatment!) but also goes a long way to explain how it can support someone through depression.
 Hui KK et al. Acupuncture, the limbic system, and the anticorrelated networks of the brain. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Oct 28;157(1-2):81-90
I was doing a talk this week at a WI group about acupuncture and how it can help people. As soon as I said that I am an acupuncturist, I could see some people becoming uneasy, one of them jokingly wondering if it was safe to come near me. This isn’t an uncommon reaction. But why?
Most people recoil in horror thinking about them. They associate them with injection needles, hospital appointments and a whole lot of other uncomfortable procedures.
But with acupuncture needles, this doesn’t need to be the case. Unlike injection needles, acupuncture needles are solid, thin and flexible. The needles I use are 0.16mm diameter, about the width of a hair. They are made of high quality surgical stainless steal and are very smooth.
The needles are also single use and sterile to eliminate any issue of cross-contamination.
After insertion, patients report very little sensation or perhaps a little bit of a prick. In most cases, what you can feel is the guide tube, a little plastic tube that rest on the skin to help putting the needle in.
Once the needle is inserted, it is normal to sometimes feel some heaviness, tingling around the needle. This is a sign that the energy has come to the needle and it is starting to have some effect.
The number of needles used varies greatly depending on the person and the condition treated. In average, I use about 10~14 needles which are mainly inserted on the arms (between the elbow and the tip of the fingers) and the legs (between the knee and the tip of the toes). They are retained for about 20 min. Most people find this a very relaxing experience, with quite a few patients drifting off to sleep!
So why not giving it a try?