You are ready to try acupuncture. You’ve decided that it might help. What do you do now? How do you decide who to go to for treatment?
There are many options available. From the very clinical to the very intimate, hour and a half treatments to half an hour sessions. Some people have you undress and wear a hospital gown, or cover with a sheet while others treat you fully dressed using points below the elbow and knees.
It depends upon what you are seeking help with. For most pain conditions, almost any type of acupuncture style or setting will help you. The shorter, community style acupuncture using distal acupuncture points works mainly on the perception of pain. Although it does help with the root or the cause of the pain, the main focus is on the feeling of pain. The distal points also can help reduce inflammation, and regulate the autonomic nervous system.
The longer more intimate acupuncture sessions may take a little longer, in fact you might need to come to the acupuncturist for several sessions, but the root cause of your pain could be completely eliminated. These treatments are usually both directly and indirectly treating your issue. Most licensed acupuncturists who have either a Master’s or a Doctorate Degree will have a good understanding of how to balance your system using acupuncture and other modalities to bring your health back to its optimum functioning capacity. Some of the causes of your symptoms may be so subtle that you would not recognize them as symptoms, but your acupuncture practitioner will know and see these subtle changes in your body that are signposts to what is out of balance.
If your issue is not pain, but chronic illness, then either type of acupuncture is going to help. You might think about alternating or starting with the longer more intimate sessions, then finishing or continuing with the shorter, less expensive treatments. Chronic illness is a little more complex that simple pain, although a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is trained to treat all kinds of illness, as well as health and wellness. He/she often can help you to regain or maintain health and wellness in a more natural way than a western doctor who is trained in diagnosing illness and prescribing the correct medication could. A TCM doctor will know what the root cause of your illness or imbalance is (in TCM terminology), and they will know what to do to correct that. If you follow their advice, take the herbs, and get treatments, your health could improve greatly.
Acute illness is relatively easy to treat. Acupuncture can help the body to take care of what is not right by stimulating the body in helpful ways such as expelling the pathogens, or bolstering your own immune system, and eliminating inflammation are ways that it does this.
Acute injury is a fairly easy fix, but you’d be better off with a private practitioner who will have heat lamps, moxabustion, cupping, as well as the acupuncture needles. This would be the longer more intimate treatment, which can address the state you are in at the time (excess or deficiency, hot or cold, damp or dry, etc). It may be that you need needling at both local and distal points.
If you are looking for support in the research studies for the efficacy of acupuncture, you will find mixed reviews. Acupuncture by its very nature and the way it is best practiced (individual), is difficult to study in a Random Controlled Trial. Random Controlled Trials assume that all participants are similar. Usually, when recruiting they look for people who fit a particular template of similarity. Acupuncture is based upon the premise of each person being individual and the treatment depends upon the individual’s symptoms and signs at the time of treatment along with some history of the illness. Each treatment takes into consideration the person’s birth constitution, and body type, as well as what is causing the illness on an individual basis.
You might get completely different diagnosis and treatment plans with different practitioners, because there is more than one path to wellness. Each practitioner sees the path through his/her own eyes. The most important thing is that you feel like you are being understood and respected, and your health is improving. Although sometimes a person’s symptoms will worsen in the beginning, your health and wellness should be improving with subsequent treatments. (It can take as few as 3 or as many as 10-20)
Whatever your choice is, you will be in good hands if you choose fully licensed and educated acupuncture practitioners. There are many community acupuncture clinics around the country. And many private practitioners also who are very competent and skilled at their profession.
Change is a part of life. Day is constantly changing into night, seasons change, people change from embryo into babies, from babies into adults, from adults into elderly. Holding onto anything that is no longer in alignment with who we are can cause us to stagnate.
Along with my recent graduation, my practice will be changing. I have made good friends in the Hill Country of Texas and in Kyle, but it is time for me to bring what I do to a new location. I have so much appreciation for everyone who has been a part of this chapter of my life. I will not forget your kindness and love.
I'm being called to begin this new chapter in a new place. This will be a move forward into a partnership where I will have the ability to reach more people. I hope to also begin to contribute articles and videos on a regular basis. I'll be getting a Patreon channel so that anyone who wishes to follow me can do so. In exchange for your very small financial contribution, I'll research your questions and prepare an article on the subject. Please send your questions to this email address, email@example.com. Any question is ok, whether about health, supplements, herbs, acupuncture, diseases or illnesses, other techniques or healing modalities, or even meditation and breathwork instructions. Just about anything is ok. I'll research, and then post the article on video with the answer. No one's identity will ever be revealed, unless you ask me to do so.
It is with great enthusiasm that I embrace change and begin this new phase of my life.
Margaret Boswell, DAOM, LAc.
Did you know that stress affects your ability to lose weight? Weight loss is more complicated than just counting calories. There are many things such as emotions, metabolism, toxicity, hormones and other nutritional and dietary factors that effect a person's ability to lose weight and keep it off.
Acupuncture can be an integral part of a good weight loss program. Not only does it increase metabolism, it also can help to balance hormones, detoxify, settle the emotions, and most importantly, acupuncture reduces stress. There are points on the ears that correspond directly to areas of the brain that control the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, as well as the vagus nerve. More simply put, the ears connect to the stomach, the small and large intestine, and they calm down the nervous system by taking you out of the "fight or flight" and into a more peaceful state of being.
Full body acupuncture can be even more effective than ear acupuncture. Added to a weight loss program, acupuncture or ear acupuncture can help you to be successful in your goals.
Article by Margaret Boswell, LAc, MSOM
This point is traditionally used to treat anxiety, stress, and pain anywhere in the body.
"The Chinese Shen Men point has been recognized for its application in many pain and dysfunctional conditions. With pain conditions, Shen Men is often considered to be a primary point for treatment. Neuropsychoemotionally, it is considered to alleviate apprehension, fear, anxiety, and to help regulate the sympathetic nervous system. Shen Men is regularly employed in addiction treatments. It is also recognized for its role in the treatment of inflammation. The presence of an electrically active or tender Shen Men is regarded by the Chinese auricular acupuncturist as an indication of neurasthenia or the presence of pain."
Shen Men A Critical Assessment through Advanced Auricular Therapy by Bryan L. Frank MD and Nader Soliman, MD
There are a few different ways that this point can be stimulated. An acupuncturist can put very small needles into the point, this is called auricular acupuncture. Another way that your acupucnturist can stimulate this point is to put semi-permanent needles into your ear. These needles are very tiny and are inserted just under the skin and then a small piece of surgical tape is applied over the needle to keep out oil, water and dirt and keep the needle in place for a few days.
Ear seeds are similar to the semi-permanent needles, but do not puncture the skin. This is called acupressure. Vicaria seeds are typically used and come already attached to a very small piece of surgical tape. It is applied over the point and left in place for a few days. Other ways to do acupressure include magnetic beads, stainless steel beads, gold or silver beads. There are even decorative beads with crystals attached to the tape over the bead, so that only the crystal shows. Another way that this point can be stimulated is with your fingers simply by rubbing the point.
Some practitioners will stimulate the auricular points with a "tens" unit, which sends an electrical microcurrent through the point. Although all of these methods produce results, in my opinion, continuous stimulation for a few days at a time, as with ear seeds or semi-permanent needles is the most effective for chronic pain.
There are many points located on the ears, each with specific associations in the body. The Chinese System uses the Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) organs and meridian associations. The Nogier( a French Neuroscientist) system is based on the nerves that go out to the ears.
Although just one point will have an effect, often when 4 or 5 points are combined into an auricular prescription, you will get more profound results. When you go to a professional for treatment, you will get a personalized point prescription.
The ear seed kits contain everything you need to apply ear seeds on your own, including charts, tweezers, seeds. The kits will give you a point protocol that is known to be effective for most people for the condition specified.
The location of the shen men point is on the helix, or upper portion of the ear, just inside the triangular area. This is the point that we will be using today with ear seeds.
Before applying the seeds, be sure to clean the area throroughly with an alcohol swab. This will remove oil and anything else from the ear. Then take tweezers and peel the seed from the paper. Place it on the point, and using your other hand, press it into place. to stimulate the point, all you need to do is press on the seed with your finger. The seeds will stay in place for 3 to 5 days. They can be worn in the shower, just be careful to not scrub tha area with soap while the seed is in place. You may remove it at any time. it can be tossed into any trash receptical. Please remove the seed if you have any redness or irritation.
So many people are having digestive issues of one kind or another. Often, there is no clear reason for the continued distress. This may explain why even the best treatments, diets, herbs and supplements are not adequate.
Link to a nice article on the Meridian system.
Thanks to Carin Channing, author of "365 Days of Doodling", and Lauren Swindell of Center Street Wellness for a fun night of doodling with ear acupuncture. We tried something new, and it was fun. The acupuncture needles stimulate places in the brain that release endorphins and also help us into a deeper state of relaxation, similar to sleep or when meditating. Combine that with crayons and paper and you get Doodlepuncture!
Next week, we are back to the usual ear acupuncture meditation. I plan to go over some breathing practices related to the elements(Earth, Water, Fire, Air). Then we will kick back and relax into a deep meditative state.
Next week I'll introduce some Qi Gong breathing practices for building the qi of internal organs.
We are meeting on Thursdays at Center Street Wellness in Kyle. All are welcome to attend. No prior meditation experience is necessary.