About acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture is part of the comprehensive natural system of healthcare known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). For over 4,000 years, TCM has been used successfully to manage pain, preserve health and prevent illness. In the U.S., acupuncture has been regulated since the 1970s and is currently is the fastest growing, most in-demand form of integrative healthcare. TCM practitioners use five branches of natural integrative medicine: acupuncture, herbs, acupressure & massage (Tuina), exercises (Tai Chi & Qi Gong) and nutrition. Modern scientific research has confirmed the existence of the acupuncture points, and continuing studies show the benefits of this ancient healthcare system for a wide variety of diseases and disorders.

How acupuncture and TCM work

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on maintaining homeostasis, or flexible balance, in the body. TCM treats the person as an integrated whole with body and mind functioning together. TCM uses a system of diagnosing changes to this homeostasis that enables the practitioner to examine the patient's condition on a more personal and integrative level. An effective treatment plan that addresses both the root causes of the person's illness, as well as the symptoms, is formulated on this analysis. TCM also acts preventively by addressing imbalances before they become illnesses. When the body is in homeostasis, it is at "ease." When the balance is disrupted, the body fails to function properly and is in "dis-ease," from which diseases may result unless homeostasis is restored. TCM treatments set the stage for the body to repair itself and maintain its own health. As such, TCM fosters physical and emotional wellness to promote longevity and vitality.

Acupuncture stimulates specific points on the body with very fine needles, encouraging the body to recalibrate, restoring its natural balance and efficient functioning. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include an herbal prescription, massage, exercises and nutritional counseling. For more information about acupuncture, visit www.csaom.org

Conditions that respond well to acupuncture

In TCM terms, acupuncturists treat imbalances in the body that impede its proper functioning and lead to physical and emotional symptoms. Because it addresses the root cause of the symptoms, acupuncture treats a broad spectrum of physical and emotional issues. In Western terms, acupuncturists are well known for treating pain and anxiety. However, acupuncture and TCM can treat hundreds of chronic and acute conditions and symptoms with positive results, including but not limited to:

Musculoskeletal problems, such as pain (neck, back, joints, etc.), muscle spasms, sports injuries, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, and herniated discs.

Gynecological & reproductive issues, such as pregnancy and postpartum, PMS, menopause, irregular or painful menses, infertility (male and female), endometriosis, PCOS, and sexual dysfunction.

Gastrointestinal dysfunction, such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, GERD, gas, bloating, IBS and IBD.

Respiratory issues, such as bronchitis, cough, allergies, asthma, common colds.

Neurological disorders, such as headaches, migraines, paralysis, numbness, neuresthenia, Bell's Palsy, tremors, and seizures.

Cardiovascular disorders, such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, palpitations, and coronary heart disease.

Emotional problems, such as anxiety, depression, tension, mood swings, insomnia, addictions, PTSD and ADHD/ADD.

Dermatological disorders, such as rashes, psoriasis, acne, hives, and itching.

Pediatrics for common childhood ailments, including digestion, constipation, diarrhea, bedwetting, allergies, earaches, common colds and coughs.

Immunity, such as common colds and flu, cancer, Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, including treatment of the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and pharmaceuticals.

Other health issues, such as facial rejuvenation, weight loss, pre- and post-surgery care, scars, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, lupus, Lyme disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect from a treatment?

After you complete the intake forms, Elaine will discuss your health concerns and history, clarifying your signs and symptoms. She will then perform a diagnosis.

You will lie down fully clothed on a comfortable massage table. Elaine will place fine, sterile, single-use needles at specific points on the body. The needles are flexible and as fine as a strand of hair. The majority of patients do not feel any discomfort. After the insertion, some patients may feel the Qi in varying ways-- a gentle tingling, coolness, warmth, heaviness, or lightness. You will rest comfortably for 15 to 45 minutes. Elaine may use other TCM modalities at this time, such as moxa. Most patients find the treatment highly relaxing and leave refreshed. Your treatment may also include lifestyle recommendations, exercises, nutritional guidance, or an herbal prescription.

Are acupuncture needles safe?

Yes. Acupuncture needles are sterilized and packaged by the manufacturer in accordance with the law. Acupuncture needles are regulated by the government by the same standards as the needles your doctor uses. By law, the needles are used only once and then discarded in special containers for medical waste.

Do the acupuncture needles hurt?

Relax. Getting an acupuncture treatment is nothing like getting a shot or giving blood. Acupuncture needles are slender and flexible, as thin as a human hair. Deftly inserted by the trained acupuncturist, the fine needle produces little or no sensation. As the treatment works, some patients will feel a sensation described variously as a slight tingling, coolness, warmth, heaviness or lightness.

Can acupuncture & TCM be used for pregnant women?

Acupuncture & TCM are natural and time-proven methods for healing and prevention, ideal for pregnant and postpartum women. They are safe, effective and gentle alternatives to pharmaceuticals or other interventions in the treatment of common issues associated with pregnancy and postpartum. Women treated with acupuncture tend to have more efficient births overall. Acupuncture is effective at turning breech babies and can also help induce labor naturally. It also works well in conjunction with any Western medicine or other modality the patient may be using. The news recently reported on studies showing acupuncture's positive effect on postpartum depression.

Can children get acupuncture?

Children and infants respond quickly and well to acupuncture & TCM for treatment of most common childhood ailments, including digestive problems, constipation/diarrhea, common colds and allergies, bedwetting, colic, and earaches. Specialized Tui Na massage and acupressure techniques are the primary means of treating infants and children. At Malin Acupuncture, Elaine will also teach you techniques so that you can help yourself and your child at home. Children with digestion or bowel troubles and pregnant women with morning sickness or working on promoting labor are a few examples of people who benefit from self-care.

What about acupuncture for seniors?

More and more seniors are finding the benefits of acupuncture & TCM for conditions they thought they just had to learn to endure. Chronic conditions, pain, insomnia, reduced mobility are just a few of the conditions that acupuncture can treat. The seniors I treat report feeling more energetic and healthier both physically and emotionally.

How many treatments and how often?

Each treatment plan will depend on the individual patient, taking into account various factors, including type and duration of health issues, age and constitution, and their response to treatment. Typically, the recommendation is for a series of treatment over a certain period, although some people respond after one or two treatments. Others may not improve until the later visits.

How do you become an acupuncturist? Are you licensed?

To practice acupuncture and herbal medicine, you must complete a 4-year Masters of Science Degree in TCM, in addition to having extensive undergraduate science prerequisites in everything from Physics to Organic Chemistry to Anatomy & Physiology. The degree includes many hours of working in clinics with patients. After successful completion of the degree, you must take standardized tests for licensure, then apply to each state with its own additional requirements. Some states, such as California, require you take their own exam. Once licensed, you must complete mandatory hours of approved Continuing Education to remain in good standing. For more information about finding a qualified Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.), visit the Connecticut Society of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine website at www.csaom.org

What is Qi?

Central to TCM is the concept of life energy, called Qi ("chee"), the subtle spark which animates the body and mind. Health results from free flowing Qi and harmony and balance among bodily functions. Disease can be caused when the Qi flow is inhibited and therefore function is disrupted or blocked. Qi circulates throughout the body along pathways called meridians or channels. When the Qi flows freely, the body functions smoothly and health is maintained. If the flow is blocked or changed, however, the system is disrupted and body functions no longer occur properly. This may result in pain or illness immediately or over time. Acupuncture works to restore normal functioning and Qi flow by stimulating specific points along the meridians with very fine needles. TCM encourages your body to recalibrate to restore its natural balance and efficiency. By doing so, TCM not only treats illnesses, but acts preventively by fixing imbalances before they become illnesses.

What are acupressure and Tuina?

Classical acupuncture techniques include acupressure/massage (Tuina) as well as needling, moxibustion, and cupping. Acupressure means using fingers to apply pressure on the acupuncture points and channels. Tuina, meaning "push grasp," is a massage and acupressure technique that works not only the muscles and joints, but the deeper energy levels as well. Based on the same principles as acupuncture, it gives patients the benefits of TCM without the use of needles. Specialized Tuina techniques are the primary means of treating infants and children.

What is Moxa?

Classical acupuncture techniques include moxibustion as well as needling, acupressure/ massage, and cupping. Moxibustion, also know as Moxa, is a method in which the practitioner burns an herb called mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) above the skin or on the acupuncture point for the purpose of warming it to alleviate symptoms and move the Qi. Patients love the soothing feeling. It is used with great success for turning breech babies. The practitioner is with the patient at all times when moxa is used.

What is cupping?

Cupping promotes blood circulation and stimulates acupuncture points by using a sterile glass globe to create a vacuum on the surface of the skin.

What is herbal medicine?

Herbal medicine is used either alone or in conjunction with acupuncture and the other TCM techniques. A specific formula will be based on you as an individual as well as your diagnosis.

What is CranioSacral Therapy?

CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive therapy that optimizes the flow of craniosacral fluid through the brain and spinal cord system by releasing restrictions. Elaine places her hands lightly in certain holds on the body while the patient relaxes. CST may be used in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment or alone. For more information, consult www.upledger.com