What Kind Of Tree Are You?

Elm Tree by kevinkpc - (Catching Up)
Elm Tree, a photo by kevinkpc – (Catching Up) on Flickr.

When patients are trying to figure out traditional Chinese medicine’s angle on human health I often end up explaining by using an analogy of a person being a tree.

You can be whatever kind of tree you want to be. Your chief concern(s) are like a limb (or limbs if you have more than one issue). If we are considering only the limb in question, it looks like the limb is an independent thing. Likewise, multiple limbs look independent of each other. Everyone knows however, that the limb isn’t the whole tree. In fact, the limb doesn’t exist without the rest of the tree. All limbs originate from the same trunk and root system. An acupuncturist is always considering the limb(s) but also the entire tree. When we are formulating a treatment plan we can treat just the limb(s) in question, just the roots of the issue or a combination of both. When treating the “root’ causes of an issue, often not only does the limb of concern improve but the entire tree begins to thrive.

What kind of tree are you?

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Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 Of Balanced Health, It’s As Easy As SRP

Primary by Cameron Booth
Primary, a photo by Cameron Booth on Flickr.

When you go to see your acupuncturist chances are you’re thinking: I just want my _____ to be better. The blank can be anything out of balance about your health. As an example, let’s use a very common chief concern: lower back pain.

While a patient is thinking of his or her pain, the acupuncturist is thinking: What’s behind this person’s pain? What led to this in the first place and how can we make sure that it doesn’t happen again or lead to worse things? No matter what your chief concern may be, the acupuncturist is thinking in terms of the three steps to balanced health.

The 3 steps are as follows:

Step 1
Symptom Alleviation
The first step is to get rid of the lower back pain.

Step 2
Restorative Care
Restorative care addresses the reason why lower back pain manifested in the first place. Not completing this step could mean the back pain returns.

Step 3
Protective Care
At this step the acupuncturist and patient are changing the focus of treatment away from being reactive to proactive. Instead of fixing ill health, treatment focus becomes supporting good health. At times this means maintenance office visits but for many it means implementing new habits of good health.

At every stage the acupuncturist’s tools are the same but hopefully the goal of treatment changes.

Simply alleviating pain is not the complete process to balanced health. The next time you visit your acupuncturist, ask them what the SRP is for you.

What Does Acupuncture Treat?

Ginseng Oolong by chadao
Ginseng Oolong, a photo by chadao on Flickr.

Many patients are surprised by the answer to their question: What does acupuncture treat? You might be surprised too. Here’s just a short, incomplete list of things that herbal medicine and acupuncture address:

abdominal pain
acne
allergies
alopecia
Alzheimer’s
amenorrhea
angina
ankle pain
anxiety
arthritis
asthma

back pain
BPH
bronchitis
bursitis

cancer
candidiasis
canker sores
carpal tunnel syndrome
cataracts

cholesterol-high

chronic fatigue syndrome
common cold
conjunctivitis
constipation
cough
Crohn’s disease

depression
diabetes
diarrhea
dysmenorrhea

ear infection
early menstrual cycle
eczema
edema
endometriosis
eye pain

fever
fibroids
fibromyalgia
flu
focus
fungal infections

gastric pain
glaucoma
GERD
goiter
gout

hair loss
headache
hearing loss
heart disease
hemorrhoids
herpes
hiccup
hip pain
hypertension
hyper/hypothyroidism
hypochondriac pain
hypomenorrhea

immune deficiencies
impotence
incontinence
indigestion
infantile cough
infantile diarrhea
infertility
insomnia
irritability
IBS
itching
insufficient lactation
irregular/late/early/ lack of menstruation

jaundice

knee pain

leg pain
leukorrhea
low libido

mastitis
memory issues
menopausal imbalances
morning sickness
multiple sclerosis
muscle tension

neck pain (any musculoskeletal pain)
nosebleed

obesity

pain
palpitations
Parkinson’s disease
PCOS
PID
PMS

rhinitis/sinusitis

sciatica
shoulder pain
smoking addiction
sore throat
stress
stroke

tendonitis
tinnitus
TMJ
toothache

UC
upper respiratory tract infection
UTI
urticaria

varicose veins
vertigo

warts
women’s and men’s health issues

Have a question about a condition you don’t see listed? Call the office-

What Is Your Tongue Telling You?


Day 100

Originally uploaded by SuperFantastic

What an opportunity! What a great pic!
Be brave and give your own tongue a good, long look. Check it out first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Look at it in the spring, summer, fall and winter. Check it out after an argument and also after a particularly good experience. Look at it when you’re 20 years old and when you’re 80 years old. Compare your tongue to your friends’ or loved ones’ (any of them that won’t think it’s too kooky that is).
What changes do you see? What stays the same? Each part of your tongue including the body, coating, tip, middle, edges and root, its color and shape, whether it’s dry or moist, curled or flat, deviated or straight all tell your acupuncturist about what’s happening inside of your body. Even if you don’t know immediately what your tongue is “telling” you, your acupuncturist can translate!
Whereas your “Chinese” pulses provide up-to-the-second information about what’s going on in your body, your tongue shows your body’s trends. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER brush your tongue before an acupuncture visit. The point of looking at your un-brushed tongue is so that we can figure out what points to needle to make the most of your visit!

Medical Culture Musings

Today I was musing about the differences  between the current mainstream medical culture here in the States and how different things have been in the past.  Did you know that historically in China acupuncturists were paid a retainer while a patient stayed healthy but as soon as a patient became sick, the acupuncturist received no payment until the patient became healthy again?  Can you imagine what today’s healthcare industry would be like if the same rule was applied? What would it be like if the emphasis was on maintaining good health rather than waiting until a problem showed up to do damage control? There are some statistics which show that more money is spent on heroic medical measures in the last three days of a person’s life than all the money spent on health during the person’s life. Health isn’t only about spending money, but when needed, wouldn’t it be great to lower the balloon payment at the end of life and use some of that money during life?

Hello world!

Hello To Everyone!

At the request of numerous patients, colleagues and friends I’ve been convinced to start a blog. The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. I hope to be able to use it as a great tool for the practice but also to help advance the place of Traditional Chinese Medicine in American medical culture.  Thanks for reading!

Today, the most interesting tid bit I thought I would share is a website I’ve included in the blogroll section: http://www.NutritionData.com. It is chock full of great tools to help you make better nutritional decisions. Couple the abilities of this website with the Chinese concept that food can be medicine and medicine can be food and you are one step closer to having or maintaining better health.