The First Visit - Diagnostic Methods
When a patient first walks into a treatment room, the acupuncturist will check four diagnostic methods to collect information on how to treat him/her with Chinese medicine: observation, olfaction, history taking and auscultation, and palpation. Keep in mind that the Chinese will look for different things, Qi and Blood. It is very important to have a good understanding of the patient before the acupuncture goes on with his healing methods.
In observation, the doctor looks at the general appearance of the patient, whether they look pale, lifeless, overweight, or vibrant and energetic. By looking at the coating of the tongue the doctor can determine how the patient is doing internally. Different colors and coats of the tongue mean different symptoms. For example if there are teeth marks along the edges of the patient’s tongue, that diagnosis is a digestive problem. The doctor also uses the sense of hearing to determine if the patient has any abnormal noises such as wheezing, hoarse voice, constant sneezing, or general discomfort.
Olfaction is just the observation of smell. If the patient is emitting bad odors, certainly there is something wrong. History taking and ausculation is a way to find out what the patient has gone through in his/her life in order to determine the cause of disease. Doctors will look at things like past treatments by other doctors, have they been working; do family member carry this disease; and personal questions like symptoms and duration of the present illness.
Palpation is using touch to identify symptoms and signs. The pulse reading is the most fascinating because of how your blood runs through the radial artery at the wrists the doctor is able to “discover the condition of the patient’s Qi and Blood, and the physiological and pathological condition of the internal organ systems” (Gao, Duo's Chinese Medicine). In the diagnostic process the doctor attempts to find the cause of the illness, not the symptom, by observing the symptoms and treating it.
From there, the doctor will prescribe your personalized form of acupuncture and or acupressure treatment as well as what herbs may assist in the body's healing process. Duration of treatment may last from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on the treatments used. Number of visits depends on seriousness of illness, how long the patient has had it, and the healing abilities of the patient.
Complimentary re-evaluation and reassessment each time you come in.
Your Body As A Whole
It is important to remember that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is its own complete, holistic medical system. It treats the whole person and not the disease. It bases treatment on who you are, where you are, how you are, and when you are. That means that the authentic practitioner will take into account your genetic heritage and makeup; your geographical location; your current physical, emotional and spiritual condition, as well as your age. These cues factor into your TCM practitioner's treatment plan and affect the herbs prescribed.
TCM's course of action is to treat the root cause of your illness, instead of covering it up or controlling this problem. The goal is to bring your organs back into balance and regain the balance and harmony within the whole body that's been lost. TCM practitioners adjust their herbal supplement prescriptions based on the progress being made in the energy condition. Sometimes the main focus is on addressing symptoms, at other times it's on treating the root cause. In the long run, it helps the whole body to function properly again, rather than just treating the symptoms or suppressing them (Dr. Lu's article from World TCM Newsletter Vol 3 No 4).
Acupuncture has been used in hospitals for the relief of pain during surgeries. Pain inhibitory systems can be selectively activated depending on the stimulation variables and the location of the chosen acupoints.
Following needle stimulation, the peripheral afferent pathways carrying acupuncture impulses are activated. Upon entering the spinal cord, recognized as the center of nociceptive, pain receptor, reflexes, primary afferent acupuncture impulses arrive at the medial and lateral portions of the dorsal horn. Then it goes to the hypothatlamo-pituitary system (HPS), which releases beta-endorphin into the blood, cerebrospinal fluid and periaqueductal gray matter. At different levels of the brain, acupuncture suppresses the transmission of nociceptive information. The acupuncture impulses were found to activate the main supraspinal center regulating the negative feedback mechanism for modulating pain, releasing enkephalin and serotonin. Thus, analgesia elicited by acupuncture occurs by inhibiting incoming pain signals.
At a more superficial level, we can look at the afferent impulses from the actual site of the needles. When putting an acupuncture needle in, the sensation of it activates muscle pressure and stretch receptors and the afferent impulses from these receptors are mediated by large and medium sized fibers. The pain that was once there has now an analgesic effect. Again, remember this is why rubbing a painful area can make the area seem less sore. The person is voluntarily increasing touch sensation, in this case the insertion of the needle, which inhibits an activation cell and closes the pain gate. Thus, a higher pain threshold, and less pain.
The nociceptive response is a complex phenomenon, states the American Journal of Acupuncture, 1997 (pp 261), that includes autonomic reflexes, and somatic reflexes such as withdrawal and voluntary actions (fight or flight). Many studies have indicated that acupuncture analgesia, or the removal of pain with acupuncture, is mediated through the peripheral and central nervous systems (CNS). It has been thought that Acupuncture Analgesia activates the pain modulatory systems of the body, thereby suppressing the transmission and perception of noxious stimuli at different levels of the CNS. The FDA endorsed the use of acupuncture as an effective method of treatment for a number of conditions, e.g., postoperative pain from dental surgery, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and anesthesia. Furthermore, the FDA suggested that migraines, arthritis, menstrual cramps and chronic pain conditions such as low back pain and tennis elbow are some of the conditions that may effectively respond to acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture has a way of communicating to the brain via different meridian systems to effectively heal the body and be pain free.
INFERTILITY with Chinese Medicine
TCM for infertility includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet, exercise and life style approach. Questions about Infertility.
How does TCM help infertility? Acupuncture stimulates the flow of intrinsic energy in the body, enhances the blood circulation to the pelvic region and benefits vital organ function. Chinese herbal formulas tonify (restore) kidney energy (renal and adrenal function) and nourish the deeper vital essence to help the body produce a healthy ovum. In addition, proper exercise, correct diet and a healthy life style all promote the flow of specific meridians and remove existing inner psychological frustration restoring your reproductive health, which helps you not only to conceive, but also to deliver a healthy, full term baby.
What is the procedure of the treatment? The initial phase of treatment involves regulating the menstrual cycle by clearing the congestion in the pelvic cavity, and nourishing the deeper vitality. This phase typically takes 3 to 6 months or more depending on the nature of complaint, trauma, toxin from medication, genetic influences, lifetime habits and illnesses. Within this phase, most women will become fertile and open for conception. You will also benefit from regularity of periods, bright red blood flow without clots, minimal or no menstrual cramping and breast tenderness, better emotional balance, enriching sleep, warm hands and feet, and much more energy. Once conception occurs, second phase treatment increases the probability of a full term pregnancy and decreases the possibility of miscarriage.
Who will be appropriate candidates for acupuncture and herbal medicine? Women with unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalances, such as menstrual irregularities, PMS, high FSH level, anovulation, difficult implantation, and frequent miscarriage, would be encouraged to seek relief from Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The most frequent cause of unexplained infertility or hormonal imbalance is energy stagnation, which affects blood flow in the pelvic area. Many years of emotional stress, depression, frustration, overwork, and improper diet and lifestyle often play a major role in energy congestion.
How does acupuncture support IVF? Acupuncture can strengthen and balance one’s general health, affect the autonomic nervous system, which is involved in the control of muscles and glands, and could therefore relax the uterus, increase the uterine blood flow and make the lining of the uterus more receptive to receiving an embryo. German researchers have increased success rates by almost 50% in women having IVF (Fertility and Sterility, April 2002 issue). It means more hope, fewer cycles, and a shorter wait for what you most desire: a beautiful, healthy baby.
More Information from Acupuncture of Dallas
Parenting Network, Your Pregnancy Week by Weeks