Are You New to Acupuncture?
The majority of patients who come to see me have never received an acupuncture treatment. Some come because they are curious and have heard a lot about Chinese medicine, others because they have tried “everything else” and are at their wits’ end. They are willing to be needled and to drink “icky”- tasting herbs to resolve their health issue.
I think it is important to understand that acupuncture is about creating a desired change in the body to enhance the health of the individual. Carefully placed needles engage the body’s qi (pronounced “chee”), which flows along channels, to enable the body to come back to a state of neutrality. Needles are simply a tool for altering or affecting the flow of qi. Once the body is back in this state of neutrality, it is then able to heal. One’s condition certainly may not resolve immediately, but an environment for healing has been created, which is the best first step.
Like Water in a River
To better understand this concept, think of qi in your body’s channels as similar to water flowing in a river. When there is a large rock present, it is an impediment to the flow of water. And if one were to remove this rock, the river would then be able to flow more smoothly. Qi obstruction is a common source of ailments and pain. This may sound a bit “woo-woo” on paper, so it is best to come in for a treatment to experience changes in your qi flow for yourself.
Returning to health is a process and often takes more than one treatment. There are specific factors to consider, such as the severity and duration of the condition, the age of the individual, lifestyle, diet, and sleep quality. Each person is unique and comes with an individual set of attributes, habits, strengths, needs, symptoms, and so on.
I also take into account that each person has a different comfort level with needles. If a patient is afraid, I will often use very few needles, perhaps two or three, or sometimes none at all, applying instead non-needle techniques. Because acupuncture is more than 2,000 years old, it has evolved quite a bit over time, resulting in a wide range of techniques available for use by the Chinese medicine practitioner.
My goal is to work with my patients to resolve their physical or emotional discomfort, while making sure the treatment experience is as pleasant as possible. I also find that an explanation of my treatment plan is very important. And then I let the needles do the work!
Future Blog Entries
I look forward in future blog entries to writing about specific topics related to my practice and Chinese medicine: a description of my clinic space, how I discovered acupuncture (and how it helped me), qi gong as a preventative health practice, Japanese acupuncture, warm breakfasts, uses of individual herbs, the functions of specific channels, the poetry of point names (“Spring at the Crook”), and the integration of acupuncture into mainstream medicine, among others.