What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system of health care with a clinical tradition dating back to A.D. 600. It includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, and nutrition.
These therapies are accepted by the National Institute of Health for a wide variety of medical conditions, including neuro-muscular-skeletal problems, internal medicine, and mental health conditions. The NIH estimates that over 8.2 million US adults have used acupuncture in the past, and it is growing rapidly in popularity due to its high level of effectiveness and low risk.
In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified acupuncture needles as medical instruments, assuring their safety and effectiveness. The pre-packaged sterile needles are so thin that insertion usually cannot be felt.
Most patients report their acupuncture treatments to be extremely relaxing, and many even fall asleep.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has none of the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs or surgery, and often is equally or more effective.
Why is Traditional Chinese Medicine Unique?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of medicine based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine.
Holistic means that no single part of a person can be understood except in its relation to the whole. A symptom is not traced back to a single cause, but is viewed in its relation to the whole body.
Energetic means that vital energy (called Chi or Qi in Asian culture) is the foundation of life and health: it is the life energy animating our physical body.
The ancient Chinese recognized the vital energy behind all life forms and life processes. In developing an understanding of the prevention and cure of disease, ancient physicians studied this system of cyclic energy flowing in the human body along specific pathways (meridians). Each pathway is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ: this system of energy is the foundation of acupuncture theory.
Disease is considered to arise from a deficiency or imbalance of vital energy (Chi) in the meridians and their associated physiological systems. This imbalance or diagnosis is determined by taking into account all circumstances in a patient's life: all physical, mental, and emotional components are considered. Western medicine by contrast usually isolates a disease to a specific organ, system, or region of the body.
The pathways or meridians of energy communicate with the surface of the body at specific locations called acupuncture points. Each point has a predictable effect upon the vital energy passing through it. Modern science has been able to measure the electrical charge at these points, thus corroborating the locations of the meridians mapped by the ancients.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has also developed methods of determining the flow in the meridian system using an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis. Findings from these methods are combined with other signs and symptoms to create a composite diagnosis. A "personalized" treatment plan is then formulated to induce a balanced state of health.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The classical Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation for acupuncture is based on the premise that channels or rivers of vital energy run in regular patterns throughout the inside of the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy channels is like a dam on a river: this obstruction of energy flow can either be the cause or the result of disease in the human body and also the human psyche, or mind.
The energy meridians in the body and mind can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points: acupuncture needles unblock the obstructed flow of energy and blood and reestablish normal flow through the meridians, thereby restoring health and balance. Vital energy or Chi is present in every part of the human being's body, including in the human mind and brain. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body to correct imbalances in all areas including neuro-muscular-skeletal conditions, internal medicine, and mental and emotional problems.
The modern scientific explanation for acupuncture is largely based on research that examines brain activity pre and post acupuncture treatment. This research shows that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous and endocrine systems to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones via the endocrine system which influence the body's own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Acupuncture has a successful clinical tradition in Asian culture of many thousands of years: not only does it work, but it works better than Western interventions such as surgery and pharmaceutical drugs in many cases.
How Does Acupuncture Feel?
Acupuncture needles are only a little thicker than a human hair and can barely be felt upon entering the skin.
Each one comes individually pre-packaged in a sterile wrapper and is disposed of after use, so there is no risk of infection. After insertion you may feel a sensation of warmth, heaviness, or tingling, but there should be no pain. Most patients find acupuncture very relaxing and even fall asleep during treatment.
Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat
- Jaw Pain
- Neck Pain
- Thoracic Back Pain
- Heel/Foot Pain
- Myofascial Pain
- Post-operative pain
- Sacral/Coccyx Pain
- Glutteal Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Knee Pain
- Sacral Pain
- Arm/Wrist/Hand Pain
- Menstrual Pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Facial Pain
- Sinus Pain
- Muscle Pain
- Joint Pain
- Inguinal &/or Groin Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Ankle Pain
- Elbow Pain
- Stomach Pain
- Hip Pain
- I-T Band strain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Joint Sprain/Strain
- Sebaceous Cyst
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Frozen Shoulder
- Tennis/Golfer's Elbow
- Ganglion Cyst
- Achilles Strain/Sprain
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Bone Spurs in Heel
- Bursitis of Joint
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Shin Splints
Gynecology, Obstetrics & Fertility
- Bells Palsy
- Reynaud's Syndrome
- Meniere's Disease
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Irregular Menstruation
- Breast Pain
- Menstrual Migraine Menstrual Bloating
- Lactation Support
- Irregular Bleeding
Emotional & Psychological Conditions
- Menopause: hot flashes/night sweats
- Uterine Fibroids
- Breast Fibroids
- Morning Sickness
- Elevated FSH
Ear, Nose & Throat Disorders
- Sinus Pain
- Ear Infection
- Sore Throat/Strep
- Flu or Cold
- Blocked/Congested Ears
- Blurry Vision
- Eye Twitching
- Dry, Red or Itchy Eyes
Heart & Lung Conditions
- Macular Degeneration
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Heart Palpitations
- Gallbladder Disorders
Bladder & Kidney Disorders
- Gas; Bloating; Cramping
- Gall Stones
- Frequent Urination Kidney Stones
- Painful Urination
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Kidney Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Fatigue: Unexplained
- Weight Gain
- Weight loss
Cancer: Adjunct Care
Note: There are many obscure medical conditions that can benefit from acupuncture and/or Traditional Chinese Medicine that are not listed above. If you do not see your medical condition on this list and are wondering if you could benefit from treatment, please contact us...
Fertility Treatment and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can successfully treat infertility in women and in men, either by itself or in combination with ART (assisted reproductive technologies) such as IVF and IUI. There is a growing body of medical research that demonstrates the effectiveness of TCM for fertility.
Fertility Acupuncture Can Help You Get Pregnant
Whether you struggle with infertility or just want to enhance your fertility naturally, fertility acupuncture can help you to conceive. In women, regular acupuncture treatments stimulate the production of follicles by the ovaries and improves cervical mucous. In men, acupuncture improves sperm quality, sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm count.
Medical studies have shown that acupuncture treatments for fertility can improve the thickness of the uterine lining and facilitate embryo implantation. For this reason fertility acupuncture is recommended to women who have had a number of miscarriages or who are going through IVF or IUI treatments.
Acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years to promote fertility and to cure infertility. It is successfully used to treat medical conditions that contribute to infertility such as endometriosis, PCOS, high FSH and luteal phase defect, as well as unexplained infertility.
Acupuncture focuses on increasing the patient’s overall health and wellness, thus enhancing fertility as a result. During women’s fertility acupuncture treatments, the blood flow to the reproductive organs increases and ovarian function improves leading to healthy ovulation and conception. In men the stimulation of the acupuncture meridians that correlate with the reproductive organs are treated to increase sperm count, improve motility, improve morphology and improve sexual stamina. These points are found primarily on the legs of the patient and above and below the navel: not on or near the groin area.
Even if it is not possible to reverse your chronological aging, nonetheless you can definitely influence the progress of your biological aging and improve egg quality with acupuncture. Practicing a healthy lifestyle in addition to regular acupuncture treatments can have a positive impact on slowing down the natural aging process and keep your eggs healthy. Chinese herbal medicine in conjunction with fertility acupuncture treatments is usually recommended to improve egg quality for a woman who is 37 or older.Studies have reported that there is a strong correlation between the age of the mother and her ability to conceive. However, it is important to remember that the eggs of some women in their forties can be kept in excellent quality due to slow biological aging. Fertility acupuncture can assist the body in doing just this.
Regular acupuncture treatments can be very helpful in regulating hormonal imbalances. Acupuncture influences the hormonal regulation centers in the brain, the autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
This is done over a period of months and with regular treatments. Acupuncture can help decrease high levels of FSH, which is related to the number of quality eggs a woman produces. High FSH is connected with poor quality of eggs. This value can fluctuate and can be brought down to acceptable levels when too high in order to help a woman who plans to undergo IVF treatments. Read our patient fertility acupuncture testimonials for several success stories from women who conceived after having acupuncture for high FSH.
Tracking your basal body temperature is extremely valuable in determining your diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Your menstrual cycle charts will help your fertility acupuncturist choose exactly what acupuncture treatment is appropriate for you during each week of your cycle, even if your cycles are irregular.
Keeping track of the basal body temperature is an excellent way for you to assess your progress with acupuncture by monitoring how your hormone fluctuation pattern is changing. Over a period of time, while getting acupuncture treatments, you will notice that you tend to ovulate closer and closer to day 14 and that your luteal phase is around 14-15 days in length. Your periods will flow easily, with less clots and cramps and less PMS. All of these improvements are signs that you are gaining better hormonal and reproductive health. Your fertility acupuncturist will give you precise instructions on how to accurately track and chart your basal body temperature.
Acupuncture for fertility is often combined with herbal medicine in order for the patient to achieve the best possible outcome. In the field of gynecology and fertility, herbal treatment is considered very important in most cases. Typically your fertility acupuncturist will give you different prescriptions to take during your follicular and luteal phases. If you are undergoing IVF or taking a medication such as Clomid or Femara, an experienced fertility acupuncturist will not prescribe any herbs that are contraindicated in combination with the medication you are taking from your reproductive endocrinologist or gynecologist.
It is best to begin fertility acupuncture treatment 3 or 4 months in advance of trying to conceive because it takes 4-5 months for a follicle to mature from the antral follicle stage. Acupuncture treatments should be done weekly throughout your menstrual cycle to support fertility and to obtain the most benefit. If you become pregnant while receiving acupuncture treatments you are absolutely safe: receiving acupuncture while pregnant can prevent miscarriages and decrease the discomforts of pregnancy like morning sickness, water retention, lower back pain, and fatigue.
An experienced fertility acupuncturist who is treating you to assist in conception will choose acupuncture points for your post-ovulation treatments that are safe and appropriate in the event that you have become pregnant that cycle. Fertility acupuncture treatments post-ovulation always take into account the possibility that a fertilized follicle is implanting.
You can schedule your first acupuncture treatment for fertility at any time during your cycle except during your menstrual period. Your treatments will be determined by your acupuncturist based upon what phase of your cycle you are at, to better help your body at that time of your cycle. For example, a specific protocol may be used before ovulation to help with follicle development and cervical mucous quality, and after ovulation the treatment will focus on supporting implantation of a fertilized follicle. An experienced fertility acupuncturist should be able to give you a rough estimate on how many menstrual cycles you may need treatment, although this is something impossible to accurately know or predict. Some women conceive in the first month of treatment, and others need consistent uninterrupted treatment for 9 to 12 months or more to achieve all of the constitutional and gynecological changes necessary for conception. Some of our most compelling and inspiring fertility testimonials were written by patients who received treatment for a year or more.
Treating Male Factor Infertility with Acupuncture:
Infertility is more common in men than many people realize. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that male factor is responsible for about 1/3 of fertility problems in the U.S., female factor for another 1/3, and male and female factors combined responsible for another 1/3. Some studies show that 48% of miscarriages are due to abnormal sperm issues. Therefore sperm testing is recommended for all male partners in couples trying to conceive. Acupuncture for men can help to improve sperm count, sperm motility, sperm morphology, forward progression and varicocele. Acupuncture also improves cases of erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate gland, and male urinary tract infections that can affect male fertility. Treatment is best begun at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive, as it takes 75 to 90 days for sperm to generate. In some cases, acupuncture treatments may need to be carried out weekly for a period of 6 months or longer. Usually your fertility acupuncturist will prescribe an herbal prescription to take in conjunction with receiving acupuncture and also provide you with lifestyle and nutritional advice to support healthy sperm production.
Specifically, the following conditions can be treated by TCM:
- Advanced maternal age
- Anovulation & ovulation disorders
- Elevated FSH
- Immunologic factors
- Hormonal imbalance
- Luteal phase defect
- Partial tubal obstruction
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Poor ovulatory cervical mucus
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Unexplained Infertility
- Uterine lining problems
- Low sperm count
- Sperm motility
- Abnormal sperm morphology
- Erectile dysfunction & libido
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine has been one of the cornerstones of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is still practiced extensively throughout East Asian culture in clinics and hospitals and is the choice therapy for internal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine has a profound impact on health with minimal side effects in comparison with many Western medications.
Chinese herbs are different from pharmaceutical drugs in that they are prescribed for patients on an individual basis. This means that a trained herbalist will combine a different combination of herbs in varying proportions and ratios for each patient, often changing the prescription for the same patient weekly depending upon the patient's progress. This method of prescribing can increase the effectiveness of the prescription dramatically over the use of store-bought herbal products that are pre-formulated for a general condition.
An immense amount of research has been done in both China and the West validating the efficacy and merit of Chinese herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is able to treat a wide range of acute and chronic diseases.