From our practice we identified the following most prominent factors affecting a patient's health:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the diseases are categorized based on their symptoms, and each symptom is linked to one or more internal organs, which is the root that causes the conditions of a patient. When implementing a therapy, countermeasures are used to correct the problems associated with the affected internal organs, with methods such as acupuncture, moxibustion, or herbal medicine. When there is an improvement with affected organs, the corresponding medical condition improves also.
To be more specific, the internal organs include the liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney, which correspond to the gallbladder, small intestine, stomach (pancreas), big intestine, and the urinary bladder, with each in charge of a set of body functions, and of course the malfunction (disease) as well. Not only the acupuncture points related to these internal organs, the herbs each relate to them also. In fact many herbal medicine ingredients are also household items used in an everyday kitchen, such as vinegar, tomatoes, honey, ginger, and salt, with each corresponding to a particular organ.
Question 1: What conditions can acupuncture be used to treat?
Answer: Acupuncture is an independent branch of medicine that can be used to treat essentially all medical conditions, ranging from cold to cancer; it is not just limited to treating pain symptoms, that is really an entry level understanding of the practice.
Question 2: How does the treatment work?
Answer: To make it easy to understand, the human body has a number of channels for energy flow. When these channels are blocked, there are symptoms of disease, such as pain, infection, or dysfunctions of various kinds. On the other hand, if you restore the flow of energy, the symptoms go away. The goal of acupuncture treatment is to unblock the energy flow by stimulating the body with needles.
Question 3: How soon should we expect to see a change?
Answer: If you do it right, for pain symptoms, you should see changes in a matter of minutes, or less, unless it is an extreme condition.
Question 4: How many sessions are needed for my condition?
Answer: It depends on the severity of your condition. The best way to make a prediction is to extrapolate from progress made already.
Question 5: Are there any risks with acupuncture treatment?
Answer: There could be minor bleeding/bruising, which is rare. Some patients experiences pain, but it does not last a long time, it should be gone in a few hours. In cases where patients are extremely nervous, they may experience light-headedness, which happens to probably 1% of patients.
Question 6: How long does a session of treatment last?
Answer: It is recommended to leave the needles in for 30 minutes to achieve good results. Usually the longer you leave them in the better.
Question 7: How often should I get treated?
Answer: For minor issues, once every other day would be good. If you experience serious problems, best to have treatment done daily. If you wait for a long time in between sessions, some improvement could fade away, unless of course after a session of treatment all your problems got resolved.
Question 8: Is it painful?
Answer: It is just like a mosquito bite. In fact, even 6-year olds can take them, so there is not much to worry.
Unlike others, we use minimal number of needles to achieve the same results whenever possible, so there is less pain for treatment compared to at other places.
Question 9: How long does the effect of the treatment last?
Answer: If you problems is corrected in one session, which does happen often here, you do not need to worry, unless you have another episode of the same problem.
Depending on how your problem started in the first place, we have different expectation of the situation. If it is the result of an accident, when you symptoms go away, unless you have another accident, you should not get your problems back; however if your problem is related to your diet or lifestyle, unless you have the root corrected also, likely eventually the problem will come back. We do assist our patients to overcome these problems also.
Question 10: Any precautions after the treatment?
Answer: No food or drinks within one hour after the treatment, if possible. No spicy food or alcohol before your next session.
Question 11: How about before treatment, any preparation needed?
Answer: Best not to eat or drink too much before the appointment.
Question 12: My previous acupuncturist placed a number of needles near where I had pain, do you do the same?
Answer: That style is typical of entry level expertise. The original Chinese acupuncture system utilizes the energy flow in the body to treat different symptoms, usually that is away from the site of the problems. Also if you do it right, you do not need to use many needles, one or a couple should be sufficient, but you get far better results. The modern school of acupuncture treatment is an extension of the thoughts from electro-physiology, rather than from ancient Chinese philosophy, with mostly Taoist thoughts. That is why not only the methods are drastically different, but also the results.
Knee pain is a fairly commonly seen problem. Some patients are even advised by specialists to have a knee replacement to stop the pain. The reason provided is that their knees are “bone on bone” because an X-ray or MRI exam showed that there is no tendon in-between the bones.
This problem more often happens to older people, due to degeneration of the cartilage in the knee structure. It is often associated with overweight. Patients complain of pain when walking or stiffness of the joint. Often knee movement is restricted and the condition can be different every day. The knee can be swollen or even deformed, with atrophy of the muscle due to lack of use. In Western medicine it is generally categorized as osteoarthritis.
Strategy for treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to strengthen the liver system, which nourishes the tendons in the body. When the tendon system undergoes repair, it is not surprising pain associated with it would reduce. Additional care should be taken to remove any bone spur if present. My experience with such cases is that, depending on severity of the case, in a few sessions, there should be substantial reduction of pain and improvement of knee functions. In other words, there can be an alternative to having a pair of metal knees for the condition.
Additionally, while undergoing acupuncture treatment, one should take care not to harm the tendons any further. In particular, one should avoid spicy food, including ginger, to not make the condition worse. With a proper post-treatment care plan, the pain should not come back.
A common health issue that seniors face is deterioration of their muscle strength. Because of that they find it increasingly difficult to perform simple daily tasks, such as walking, and as a result most end up having to use a walker sooner or later, or even a wheelchair when it becomes worse.
However, this is not the only solution to the problem. Rather than providing external support, their physical strength can be improved. In the view of traditional Chinese medicine, people lose their muscular strength due to deteriorating spleen function. If you can improve the function of the spleen, a direct result is that the person’s muscle becomes stronger. In other words, it is possible to rejuvenate their life and health, so that seniors can enjoy a younger life style, one that is not dependent on external equipment in their daily life.
The above rejuvenation can be achieved with either taking herbal medicine, or using acupuncture. For herbal medicine, the idea is to strength the spleen with ingredients such as licorice, but not to the point of weakening the function of the kidney system, otherwise there can be less bladder control. Relating to diet, one should avoid chicken, plums or anything that tastes sour, because these items strengthen the liver and as a result weaken the spleen. This method of treatment requires fine balancing of ingredients used in the recipe, and thus has to be personalized to the individual. As a result it requires much personal attention.
On the other hand, with a well-designed system of acupuncture, the objective of strengthening the spleen can be easily achieved. This is because of the ease associated with manipulating the points and needles when providing treatment to a patient. Although it also requires personal attention, it can be implemented very easily. In my experience, most people show visible improvement in strength after just a few sessions of treatment. In fact, it is not surprising to see improvement after the first session.
Mark Ma is the principal at Acupuncture One, which is a clinic dedicated to practicing pure, original Chinese medicine. Mark inherited the knowledge and skills directly from Grand Masters in the field. This rare heritage enables Mark to provide exceptional services to clients.