Rob Mills, L.Ac. & Emden Griffin, L.Ac. of Bend Community Acupuncture, LLC have been providing affordable and effective acupuncture to the community for over 13 years! And did you know that we offer herbal medicine as well? We utilize the finest patent and custom formulas available from trusted companies like Mayway, Blue Poppy, Golden Cabinet, Dr. Dave’s and many more. All of the herbs we use are rigorously tested to ensure potency and purity. Give us a call today and find out how we can help you feel better!
The best way to understand the difference between the modalities of acupuncture and herbal medicine is to focus on how each one influences or balances Qi.
Acupuncture works in the same way that a teacher or coach works; it provides instructions and cues as to how Qi should change, but it does not do the work directly. Instead, the body balances itself based on the instructions or encouragement that it is given. And just like working with a good teacher or coach, one becomes more familiar with how change is supposed to happen and more capable of creating change over time.
Herbs, on the other hand, have a direct influence on physiology and actually do something to create a change. That change lasts as long as the herbal remedy is in one’s system. Over time, changes can become more lasting.
Acupuncture by itself can do many of the same things that herbal medicine can do. It often has to be received several times a week to make this kind of impact. This can make it cost prohibitive for many people. In comparison, herbal medicine can often influence change on a daily basis and can be more cost effective. Greater results can be seen if both are done concurrently for at least the first couple of weeks of treatment.
If treatment is not appropriate, acupuncture has very few if any lasting side effects. Where as herbal medicine can have side effects that are more pronounced and longer lasting. Both modalities are very safe when compared to pharmaceuticals.
A good practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine can guide you to an appropriate course of treatment.
As mentioned in our last post, acupuncture and herbal medicine are two of the most prominent and effective modalities used in Chinese medicine. In this post we will present some background to lay the foundation for understanding the difference between the two clinically. What started as a two part post will now expand to three.
In the countries where Chinese medicine theory and practice have evolved and been advanced over millennia, places like China and Japan; the practice of acupuncture and herbal medicine are often practiced separately. A practitioner who does acupuncture would not use herbs and vice versa. In today’s world there are separate schools, tests and licensure for each modality because it is recognized that each one is a specialty unto itself. From a scholarly perspective, each is seen as a “life’s work” to master. So the idea that an individual practitioner can (or should) be proficient at both is an idea conjured up by western schools of Chinese medicine to possibly enroll more students.
With that said, it is possible for a diligent student of these two modalities to practice both and achieve good clinical results. Especially in the modern world where most disease patterns seen in the clinic are due to the same handful of causes: overwork, stress, improper eating and lifestyle habits, and lack of exercise. If a practitioner can become proficient at treating a half dozen different patterns then good results can be obtained.
Next time we will explain how acupuncture and herbs differ in how they balance Qi and when each is appropriate in treatment.
Under the broad umbrella of Chinese medicine there are a handful of treatment modalities that a practitioner can utilize to treat disease. Among them are the two most prominent which are acupuncture and Chinese herbs. In this two part post, we will first explain each one and then provide some context for how each is used and why.
First an overview of the energetics involved in Chinese medicine...
The human body is seen as a holistic being, meaning that all of it’s various systems are part of a greater whole that must be energetically and physically balanced to achieve maximum health and prevent disease.
Energetic balance can be defined as the relative balance of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) throughout the body. Qi is the “life force” that flows freely within us. It animates us, protects us from illness, pain and disharmony. Our health is determined by the quality, abundance, availability and balance of our Qi.
Qi moves through the body via pathways called meridians or channels that connect the organs and glands to the rest of the body. Meridians can be compared to rivers or stream-flows that must be abundant and free from blockage to maintain health.
Practitioners can use acupuncture to restore the free-flow of Qi. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points along the meridians. Stimulation of these points can restore the balance of energy in the body, allowing it to overcome disease.
Herbs are another means of balancing Qi. Over the past 2-3 millennia, scholars, physicians and farmers in China have harvested, cultivated, energetically categorized and become proficient at formulating herbs to treat disease. The Qi of each plant was recognized as having specific effects on human health and disease by way of it’s taste and temperature. Using the same theories as acupuncture to diagnosis energetic imbalance, an herbalist would prescribe a formula of herbs to address that imbalance and bring the body back into health. Modern science has confirmed that each plant or herb does have specific energetics which can be described by the active constituents found in that herb.
Next time we will compare and contrast these two different modalities.
The de facto standard of education for acupuncturists these days is a Master's degree...And many choose to pursue their doctorate.
There is a rigorous national board examination that has to be passed before an acupuncturist can apply for licensure...
And acupuncturists must complete 60 hours of continuing education every four years to maintain their license.
Acupuncturists in the state of Oregon are licensed by the medical board…This is the same board that licenses physicians.
Most acupuncturists have a general practice and see patients for many of the same things that doctors do….
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be either a complement or an alternative to western medicine.
Ultimately, the measure of a good acupuncturist can be based on the clinical results they achieve for their patients. If one is trying to choose an acupuncturist or has just begun seeing one, then what indicators can one look for to decide if the practitioner they are considering is any good?
•Have they completed any advanced training beyond their schooling and clinical training? Extended and focused study in a particular style under a master acupuncturist is a good indicator that someone has made an effort to become a better practitioner. 150-200 hours of such training is a minimum to achieve any competence in an individual style, where 350-500 hours is even better.
•The ability to provide a traditional diagnosis based on the theories of Chinese medicine and a comprehensive treatment plan after the first or second visit, is a very positive sign that a practitioner has a good understanding of one’s disease pattern and what would be involved in treating it.
•Can they achieve noticeable and meaningful change in one’s symptoms in 4-6 treatments or less? This doesn’t mean a cure should be expected in that time, but improvement in one’s main complaint should be obvious in a short period of time. This should provide confidence that a practitioner has the understanding and competence to successfully treat one’s condition.
•The fewer needles the better. The use of less than 4 or 5 points, (8-10 bilaterally) is a sign that a practitioner has a good understanding of the properties of individual points and that they have confidence in their treatment approach.
The above points are a great starting place to finding a good practitioner or to evaluate the acupuncturist you currently see, but in the end, results are what count!
Many people don’t realize that there are many different styles of acupuncture out there. In fact, there are almost as many different styles as there are practitioners who offer them; similar to the variety of cuisine offered in restaurants where each chef prepares the food just a little bit differently.
Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, French, German and even American styles of acupuncture are common. Under those broad headings, individual styles include: Five Element, Meridian Therapy, Traditional Chinese medicine and Classical Chinese medicine just to name a few. Then there are the myriad of systems based on and named after famous practitioners like: Kiiko Matsumoto style, Tung style, Tan style and Worsley style. When we add in the preferences each individual practitioner has when studying and implementing these styles it is easy to see just how varied the offerings of acupuncture really are.
There are no “right” or “wrong” styles, only good and better practitioners and just like with cuisine, the goal is to give the customer exactly the type of experience they are looking for, namely relief from their symptoms. Clinical results are always the best measure of whether a particular style is being performed appropriately.
Coming next week: How to tell if an acupuncturist is any good
Have a great week! :)
Allergy season is here, so if you experience things like a runny or stuffy nose, itchy watering eyes, sneezing and a scratchy throat then you are likely allergic to juniper pollen. Amongst the first allergens that we experience here in central Oregon, junipers kick things off in March, but suffer no more!!
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can ease your suffering without side effects or medications. And even better than that, our holistic approach creates balance for the whole body and doesn’t just focus on symptoms.
Why suffer any longer? And why pay more than you have to for personal, one-on-one attention by our professional, caring practitioners. We offer a sliding-scale and decades of experience.
Get in touch today to schedule your appointment and say goodbye to seasonal or year-round allergy suffering!
As we mentioned last week, allergy season is here and along with it comes all of the lovely phlegm and mucus that our bodies produce in response to our exposure to allergens. Where does it all come from and more importantly how can we get rid of it?
Chinese medical theory says that phlegm and mucus is produced in the digestive tract and it is stored in the respiratory tract. So when it comes to allergies, any pathological or excess production a phlegm or mucus implies an inherent weakness of digestion.
This is an important perspective to keep in mind when treating allergies, the first order of business is to strengthen digestion to reduce the production of phlegm and in doing so we increase the body’s resistance to allergens in the first place.
Anyone who suffers from allergies can immediately improve their symptoms by eliminating foods that have mucus forming properties such as dairy products, along with excessive consumption of oils and fats. Also reducing or eliminating foods that weaken digestion such as, excessive amounts of sugar, cold and raw foods as well as coffee, tea and alcohol.
Making these simple changes over the course of a couple of weeks will noticeably improve allergy symptoms. For complete relief or to devise a custom treatment plan to fit your needs, give us a call!
Enjoy the beautiful weather symptom free.