What You Always Wanted to Know About Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine – Part 1
Dr. Mary Riggin, LAc, FitFM – Family Wellness
It is not hard to spot a trend when it is featured on the cover of Time Magazine, Newsweek, Business Week, The New England Journal of Medicine, dozens of TV talk shows and even the subject of an NIH conference.
Acupuncture has become very popular over the past few years. And it is not just the progressive crowd that's trying it – middle America is getting acupuncture in increasing numbers. While there are still some medical doctors who believe it is akin to voodoo, most of the modern research literature and the vast majority of the medical profession accept acupuncture as an important component in medical care.
Its application for a wide variety of health conditions results in lowering the need for drugs and surgical procedures. Since it is safe, many people are trying it first before subjecting themselves to the possible harsh side effects of modern treatments and procedures. For others, it is becoming the preferred way to maintain a strong immune system and optimal health through regular maintenance care.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is only one form of treatment utilized in the ancient medical art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also commonly known as Oriental Medicine. TCM is the fundamental cornerstone and basis for the practice of Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Tui-Na (a specialized form of massage and bodywork.) This full system of medicine, along with its ancient diagnostic techniques, has an impressive history that dates back over 3000 years.
What Is Oriental Medicine?
The term Oriental Medicine (OM) includes the various styles that developed as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) spread from China to many different countries such as Korea, Japan and then into Europe. Currently, American practitioners are continuing the tradition by developing an American style of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine that meets the needs of the American culture.
What makes this medical art so different and unique is the use of TCM's ancient diagnostic techniques that evaluate a patient's individual condition. Each person is evaluated and diagnosed to determine his/her imbalance. This means that two patients with the same named Western disease can have a completely different diagnosis according to Oriental Medicine and therefore will be treated differently. Understanding the diagnostics is vital to achieve the best results. Once the patient is properly diagnosed, a treatment protocol can then be outlined using acupuncture, tui na massage, herbal prescriptions as well as other various modalities as indicated by that condition.
Oriental Medicine to balances the body's energy fields similar to the way Western medicine seeks to balance the chemistry of the body. Homeostasis is fundamental to both disciplines. The tiny needles (I like to call them pins) used in acupuncture act like little antennae to focus the body's energy fields to restore balance to the body's function. It's kind of like "programming" the body to focus on healing and restoration. It also increases blood and oxygen flow to the cells and releases endorphins, the body's natural pain killer. There is a "feel good" sensation from the endorphins and a deep relaxation that's a side benefit of treatment. Many patients get so relaxed that they actually fall asleep during treatment.
So, how Does It Work?
Tiny, sterile needles (about the size of a strand of hair) are inserted into the skin at very special points. The needles focus the body's energy the same way an antenna can focus radio energy. It is important that the needles be placed in exactly the right place, since the location of the needles will determine how the energy field is changed. These special points occur where the energy fields of the body interact. Each system and organ manifests its own energy level and can be weakened or strengthened by the energy fields around it. Acupuncture focuses these fields to bring them and the underlying body systems into balance. In TCM, this energy is called qi (chee) and was discovered over 3000 thousand year ago.
Can This Energy Be Measured?
Not with today's technology. There is no doubt that the body is surrounded with energy fields. It is a basic law of physics that when electricity flows along a conductor it creates an energy field. This is why electric generators work. We also know that a field will affect other fields – this is why electric motors work. We can measure the stronger fields created by the brain and large nerves with devices like the EEG, EMG and EKG, but these are the exception rather than the rule. The problem is that the fields manipulated by acupuncture are too small to measure with today's technology. Today's environment also makes measuring these fields very difficult. We are subjected to millions of times more electromagnetic radiation than our parents and billions of times more than our grandparents. Even though we can't measure them, we know they are there. The practice of TCM over the past 3500 years has proven the results; and I've personally seen the results over the past 10 years clinically.
Next month, in part 2 of this article, I'll discuss the use of the lesser known modalities of Oriental Medicine: Herbal Medicine and Tui Na (an Oriental Medicine's specialized bodywork and massage technique.)
Executive Director, Acupuncture Physician
Dr. Riggin is FitFM - Family Wellness , is the Founder and Director of Healing Touch Oriental Medicine. As an inspiring health educator, in-demand speaker and doctor of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Dr. Mary has helped thousands of people completely turn their health around. Dr. Mary co-hosts and produces the wildly popular radio show "Food is the First Medicine" and her presentations and viewpoints on natural healthcarehave made her an in-demand and innovative expert in the natural health world.
Dr. Mary Riggin, produces and hosts Food is the First Medicine Talk Radio Show, and is a popular speaker. Since 1996 she has practiced natural medicine in the Tampa Bay area; her passion and purpose is to help as many people as possible. Listen to her weekly on TanTalk 1340AM in Tampa Bay, or online anytime, anywhere at www.foodismedicine.org.
She is former Vice Chair of the Florida State Board of Acupuncture and was appointed to this gubernatorial position by Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor Jeb Bush. She has been featured on various TV and radio shows and frequently teaches free classes at community and recreation centers throughout Pinellas County.
She is a published author and was featured in the book A Woman's Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Alternative Healing, writes and publishes educational newsletters and brochures, and was elected to serve two consecutive terms as President of the Florida State Oriental Medical Association.