I am honored to have joined Herban Health in their efforts to bring free acupuncture services to those in need. Started by former students of ACTCM (American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco) over a decade ago, it continues to serve those in the community that do not have regular access to healthcare.
This small organization is run entirely by a dedicated few and are assisted by volunteers like me who come in and help when we can. All services are free and the whole organization exists through volunteer time and donations that go towards supplies. Clinics are "community-style" (patients are treated in the same room and points used are those easily accessed with patients seated) and most are walk-in, no appointment necessary.
My own life is blessed in many ways, and it is almost a relief to me to finally be able to give back to the community if only in a small way. If you know anyone that might need our services, please let them know. At this time, all services are offered only in East Palo Alto, but is open to everyone.
For more information, visit http://www.herbanhealthepa.org
I just found this article and it has some good points for those of you on the fence. The only thing I would add is that Chinese Medicine has alternative therapies that don't involve needles if you're supremely phobic, but, as a patient and practitioner, I have seen that needles often do something special that other modalities just can't. This might mean some conditions may not resolve or may resolve a lot more slowly. Just something to keep in mind!
8 Tips for Acupuncture First-Timers
By TheDailyZeel | Healthy Living – Wed, Jan 4, 2012 12:01 PM EST
New York City acupuncturist Bruce Mandelbaum has been treating elite runners for more than 25 years. No stranger to sports injuries himself, Bruce is an endurance athlete and long-time member of the Central Park Track Club, and knows first-hand how acupuncture can complement a vigorous training regimen.A few painless facts about acupuncture.
But here's the kicker; while there are plenty of zealous athletes who are all too happy to put their body through a marathon, triathlon or other challenging feat, there are far less who embrace alternative healing therapies like acupuncture to maintain their physical health. Why? In many cases, it's fear of the unknown.
Sure, the thought of acupuncture can be intimidating to a newbie, even if the potential discomfort of a needle is far less daunting than the pain of running 26.2 miles. Bruce, a "true sports acupuncturist" and a prominent media personality, tames our trepidations with simple tips for all you first timers out there.
Face the facts. There's no way around it. Acupuncture involves needles. Sounds obvious, but it's important to get past this fact before booking your appointment. Over it? Good.
Gain without the pain. Despite what you may think, acupuncture doesn't hurt that much. Bruce explains that, unlike a physician's needle, which is thick and filled with fluid, acupuncture needles are much thinner. In fact, if one were to be held seven or eight feet away, you wouldn't see it at all.
Fresh and clean. Acupuncture needles are always 100 percent sterile and disposed of after use. A professional would never use them over and over again.
Eat lightly. While it's important to eat some sort of food to prevent dizziness or nausea, avoid over-indulging before a session. Stick to a snack consumed a few hours prior to your appointment.
What's poppin'? If you're currently taking vitamins, herbs or medications, consult your provider to determine whether you should continue to do so prior to and in between sessions.
Ouch to ahh. In many cases, acupuncture can offer immediate relief from pain. It's not uncommon to feel at least some improvement on the day of your appointment.
Don't rush it. The overall effect of acupuncture can take a few treatments. It's important that you commit to these treatments in order to achieve the cumulative results.
It's in the zone. Acupuncture can deliver a new-found sense of pain relief and overall restoration. Some of Bruce's clients describe that they feel as though they're "in a zone."
Due to popular demand I am posting my two go-to recipes for energy bars. I primarily use them as fuel for my long runs and they seem to work very well for me. Most if not all of these ingredients can be modified to fit your dietary requirements so experiment away.
In Kiiko style acupuncture (a Japanese style of acupuncture handed down over generations), it teaches that ofttimes when acupuncture points that you feel should work but do not, there is a blockage in the body that is preventing the healing process.
I have been working on a patient recently who has some unusual medial knee pain. The pain started above the joint and extended a few inches up the leg. I am pretty sure it is not meniscus related but with some testing could not really differentiate between the gracilis or quad tendons in that area. The patient told me that they have using the leg press and leg adductor machines at the gym and that the pain is worse when moving the leg into a sitting-cross-legged position. The patient had first tried to self-treat by using moxa (herbal heat) and herbal patches but with little result. When I first saw this patient her chief complaint was actually back pain, but the knee issue came up and we began to treat them concurrently.
After several visits, the back pain was reduced significantly, but the knee pain was pretty stubborn and the pain reduction was insignificant.
In keeping with Kiiko's teachings, I re-checked the patient's basic constitution and found that the "adrenal" points (trigger points in a sense) were quite sensitive. So far, with several treatments behind us, I am finding that addressing the adrenals (calming the "fight or flight" response) has been thee most effective in reducing the patient's pain. Each visit has ended with the patient unable to replicate the pain. The pain comes back in a few days, but has been less with each visit. Stuff like this is what makes acupuncture so fascinating. Why would this work? It wouldn't surprise me in the least that with our stressful lifestyles, it is inhibiting our natural abilities to heal. A good reminder to find the time to slow down whether it be through qigong, meditation, tai qi, or as simple as taking the time to sit down with a good book.
My patient is still continuing to see me and I am excited to see how we progress in the next few weeks.
Most of us are familiar with the use of acupuncture for back pain but it's still interesting to see how the studies back that up. I know it has worked for me in the past and I continue to use it today to manage my degenerative disc disease. http://www.jcm.co.uk/research-archive/article/acupuncture-for-acute-back-pain-2077/
I just finished reading a blog post from a very well known endurance athlete, and when I got to the sentence "It turns out there isn't much to do about a broken toe" except RICE. My initial reaction was to feel sadness. Pity? Maybe. But as I sit here, I realize it just shows how much we have lost touch with all the medicine that came before us and how much a large segment of us has yet to re-learn that there are other ways in which we can reduce pain, heal faster, and heal well.
But every time I see comments like this, I get it. I totally get it! It took me 30 years to accidentally stumble upon what we now call *alternative medicine. If you told me before to take a certain herb, poke a needle in me, or do a particular qigong exercise to help heal my injuries, I would have probably politely smiled and said "uh huh" before I just popped some Advil and grabbed some ice from the freezer. That's all I knew and we all know that western medicine is the top of it's class, right? Sadly for me, I learned to look outside only after 12 years of back pain, multiple doctors, and tons of prescriptions for hydrocodone, brought me to the point that I could barely walk and I had stopped going out with friends because it was too hard to sit. It took desperation. And this is what I usually see in my clinic. Chinese Medicine is still a last resort. And yet think of how powerful, truly powerful, medicine would be today if western and alternative worked hand in hand. And yes I mean hand in hand. Western medicine is extremely helpful when it comes to diagnoses (though this is not always necessary, for things like broken bones, it helps), xrays/MRI's, and emergency medicine to name a few. And it has been proven to work very well in cases like cancer and fertility.
Today, because of that desperation and a bit of luck, I discovered how out of touch I was with remedies that have been effective for thousands of years, being mired in a system that only gave me pain medication which never addressed the problem.
The deeper you get into ancient text, the stranger it feels when you realize that the modern medicinal field, through technology, is discovering things today what previous centuries have already established in their medicine systems without all the fancy gizmos. It gets downright weird. For example, it is only recently that modern medicine has started to realize that the fascial planes in our body actually correlate pretty accurately to the channels used in Chinese Medicine along which acupuncture points are found. It brings a modern understanding to why a point in the toe might affect something in the eye. Chinese medicine knew this years ago whereas modern medicine still separates the body parts into "specialties", without considering how something on the opposite side of the body may be related to a problem. Western medicine is just beginning to understand this.
A large part of why I entered into Chinese Medicine after years in the graphics field was to be able to bring this medicine further out into the public. I was shocked to realize that no one at the hospitals had told me that I could try acupuncture or herbs, or even chiropractic. There are so many things a person can do for themselves and you DON'T even need to see me. Try turmeric (a known anti-inflammatory. 500 mg 3 times per day. About a 1/4 tsp). Purchase Wu Yang plasters online or at your local chinese herbal market or store. These patches are for red, inflamed and/or new injuries to circulate blood and "cool" the injury. After the inflammation (touch the injury. Does it feel warmer than usual to you? Compare it to the other side) subsides and the injury still feels tight and sore, try an Espom salt soak to bring more circulation into the area and start softening the ligaments and scar tissue that is probably forming. How do acupuncture needles help? Not only can you reduce the pain, needles also increase circulation of blood and allows the body to target a specific area to increase healing. Depending on the injury, acupuncture can help re-align structural weaknesses that may be causing the injury in the first place. Needles and a proper diagnosis can also help resolve other problems in your body that may be preventing the injury from optimal healing.
What I most want for people who have never tried acupuncture, is only this. Keep it in your back pocket. You might think it's a joke, that it's weird, that it's not for you, that it's scary. But what I hope for you is that it becomes a part of your collective subconscious. So that when you're ready, when you've come to a point with whatever it might be, that you might remember that there is something else out there that might help you or a friend or family member, and to not resign yourselves to the idea of "isn't much to do".
(*though my specialty may be in Chinese Medicine, this does not preclude Ayurvedic or other medicines that has been passed through a myriad of cultures throughout the world. I can't claim to have tried them all, but just like it is ridiculous to think that western medicine is the only healing modality out there, it would be unfair to think that Chinese Medicine is the only thing that works too.)
by: Miki Higuchi L.Ac. on July 19, 2011
If you see an acupuncturist, there is usually a point where they insist "No ice!". But why? Growing up here in California, it is fairly common knowledge that ice is what is used for anything that hurts. We are told that ice reduces inflammation and speeds healing. And let's face it, when it hurts, icy numbness makes it feel better. So, what's the big deal?
I thought I would give you a real-world example of how this can work. But in a nutshell, this is Chinese Medicine's thoughts on the topic first so you know where I'm coming from.
When you create an injury in your body, whether its' a sprained ankle, broken foot, or even a cut on your arm, your body races to repair it. The body is geared to send all it can to that injury to start the recovery process. The body is pretty great that way. Now, what does ice do? Think of ice cubes, icebergs, ice cream! Ice congeals into a hard substance , ice numbs and stops feeling. Ice stops the flow of substances. So, when your body is trying to bring white blood cells, collagen, and other healing substances to an injury, cold blocks it from coming through, thus delaying healing. And something that is admittedly a little harder to grasp is the idea that "cold" can get trapped inside an injury, potentially leading to achey-ness and arthritic symptoms.
So, back to me and my story. I am a chronic ankle sprain-er. It started over 20 years ago with a sprain on the softball field, followed by sprains on the basketball court, stepping off a curb, and then falling down on trails and over and over again. This was also all before I understood the mechanism behind injury and healing. This was also before I learned the virtue of patience.
This was the typical me (and I know I'm not the only one!): I would get an injury, proceed to complain about how awful it was, yearn to get back to my sport, and even though it was not even close to 100%, I would find myself going on multi-mile runs and signing up for races. And within a few months, longer if I was lucky, I was usually flat on my face with another sprain.
And now I suffer the consequences. I have chronically weak ankles. Xrays have showed bone spur growth, I find it difficult to sit "Japanese style", I am forever resigned to wearing ankle support when I run, and worst of all they have started to ache deep inside. This aching really started up over a year ago and it was bearable but really uncomfortable. "Setting" the ankle by a practitioner didn't seem to help too much. And I have to admit, I was a bit lazy with the acupuncture needles. So, what happened? Well, I'm a big fan of socks. They're just cozy ya know? And this past winter, I was holed up a lot studying in cold libraries and sitting around in my cold house. I got into the habit of bundling myself up very well. When I started to pick up the running come February and April of this year, I noticed that my ankles didn't ache anymore. Nothing. At first I thought,"Great! I'm like superwoman or something". Either my body is in complete denial or I healed myself by doing nothing at all! Perfect.
Then the summer weather finally came through. It came a little late this year if you noticed. I started using my AC all the time. Well, guess what, my ankle started aching again. And I didn't put 2 & 2 together right away. It wasn't that simple. I started to apply a warming liniment on my ankle several times a day. (As my injury is very old, very chronic, and very stiff, I knew it needed a warming treatment to get it to loosen up.) Well, on one of those mornings after I applied it to my ankle, and wearing flats with no socks, I hopped into my car to head to work. It was then that I noticed that the AC was blasting right on my ankle. It was more noticeable because of the minty liniment I had just applied. I was stunned that the air was focused so directly on my gas pedal foot. I immediately re-directed the air, even going so far as to wrap that ankle when I drove, continued with the liniments, and took a wait and see attitude.
Well, 3 weeks later, after logging a fair amount of running mileage each week, the aching is gone. I didn't do anything else to treat it. In fact, in the last week or so I have even forgotten to apply the liniment. It totally makes sense, but I can't help but be pretty pleased at the change. I mean, come on, how easy!
So, that's my personal story. I know it's anecdotal, so you can take it or leave it. But it's not only me. I have treated hundreds of patients, and many have said that their recovery took a turn for the better when I told them "No ice!". It's simple. Give it a try.
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