What is Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine is the oldest continually practiced medical system in the world, and is still widely used in modern China, Japan, Taiwan and in many parts of Europe and North America. It is also the fastest growing form of Medicine in recorded history. While it has been documented for about 2500 years, historians and archaeologists believe Chinese Medicine to have been in practice for closer to 4000 years. It developed during a time period when Confucianism and Naturalism where the prevailing views in China. As such, it grew in accordance to the laws of nature and the laws of society/government. Lacking sophisticated diagnostic equipment, the Chinese developed a highly detailed and descriptive system of observations and correspondences that we still use widely today. Using measurements like digestion, bowel movements, urination, perception of bodily temperature and a variety of other criteria, Chinese Medicine prefers to describe things in very practical terms such as Liver Blood Deficiency of Phlegm Heat obstructing the Lungs.

Acupuncture is one modality in the vast umbrella of Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion of fine needles into the body at acupoints shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These acupoints have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of 2,500 years and continue to be studied to increasing depths. There are well over 360 acupoints and the decision over which ones to use are often based on both function and location. There are a few different precise methods by which Acupuncturists insert needles. Points can be needled anywhere in the range of 15 degrees to 90 degrees relative to the skin surface, depending on the treatment called for. Acupuncturists can use many different size and style of needles. The needles are disposable and sterile. They are used once and discarded in accordance with medical biohazard regulations and guidelines.

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture promotes the flow of "qi", or life force in the body. Qi is like phenomenon in that it is responsible for all the activities of the human body and mind. There are distinct channels (meridians) that run through the body carrying qi and blood, following the pathways of nerves and blood vessels. The aim of acupuncture is to keep these channels unobstructed, allowing qi to flow smoothly and harmoniously. When qi binds in the body, pain and disease may arise. There is an ancient Chinese medical axiom that reads When there is free flow of qi, there is no pain. When there is pain, there is no free flow.

Thus, the desired outcome of Acupuncture is to balance the bodys flow of qi and blood and promote the free flow of both so that the obstruction will not return.

Does Acupuncture hurt and are there side effects?

Acupuncture needles are very fine needles, typically no thicker than a human hair. The insertion of these needles is generally painless. Once the needles are inserted, the obtainment of Da Qi sensation is what creates results. This Da Qi might elicit a feeling of heaviness, warmth, a slight ache, or even a feeling of the qi moving through the channels. Many people find acupuncture to be quite relaxing, and many will fall asleep or enter meditative states during the treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are no side effects to acupuncture.

What can I expect on my first visit?

Your first visit will be your longest and your most comprehensive. The practitioner will need to assess your overall state of health, identify the root cause of your complaint(s), and then figure out your overall constitution so that the treatment can be customized specifically for you. You will be asked a series of questions about your family health history, your digestion and elimination and a variety of physiological functions. To assist the diagnosis, the practitioner will then feel the pulse of both wrists to determine the width, strength, rate, and quality of the pulse. Additionally, the practitioner will examine your tongue to observe the color, shape, size, and tongue coating. This information will then be combined with any Western tests and a diagnosis will be achieved. The practitioner will then suggest the best course of treatment. For some, acupuncture alone will suffice while for other, the combination of Acupuncture and herbs will be best. Yet for others, non-insertive techniques will be most practical.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments depends upon the severity and duration of your complaint. In general, the more chronic a condition, the longer the course of treatment. For acute conditions, often a few treatments in a short period will suffice. For more chronic conditions, a longer course spread out over a large period generally best addresses those conditions. Because we treat both the root (cause) and the branch (symptoms), the early parts of the treatment are geared more towards alleviating the branch and the latter parts are geared towards addressing the root.

Is there anything I should know prior to trying Acupuncture or Chinese Medicine?

Do not come to your treatment hungry, excessively fatigued, dehydrated or intoxicated. Please wear loose fitting clothing, though gowns will be provided should it be necessary. Tongue examination is a very important diagnostic, so please do not scrape off your tongue coating on the days of your visits. For allergy elimination treatments, avoid treatment while taking immune blocking medications such as antibiotics, or while in treatment for cancer. If you have a fear of needles, please contact your practitioner and they will discuss your options for non-insertive techniques such as Acutonics, acupressure, moxibustion and cupping. Please show up about 10 minutes early to complete the appropriate paperwork and please bring a list of your current medications.

What can I expect after a treatment?

Patients often feel a difference in their discomforts after only one treatment. This relief can last or some discomfort may return. With consecutive treatment, the idea is to alleviate these discomforts all together. Overall, the goal is momentum and to keep that momentum moving forward.

What can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture can treat a wide assortment of health issues and diseases. Really, there is not a lot that we cannot address with Chinese Medicine, but should you have a condition that is not listed below, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture is appropriate in the treatment of the following:

  • Infections:

    • Colds and flu
    • Bronchitis
    • Hepatitis

    Internal Medicine:

    • Hypoglycemia
    • Asthma
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Ulcers
    • Colitis
    • Indigestion
    • Hemorrhoids
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Diabetes

    Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Disorders:

    • Ringing of ears
    • Earaches
    • Poor eyesight
    • Dizziness
    • Sinus infections
    • Sore throat
    • Hay fever

    Dermatological Disorders:

    • Eczema
    • Acne
    • Herpes
  • Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders:

    • Arthritis
    • Neuralgia
    • Sciatica
    • Back pain
    • Bursitis
    • Tendonitis
    • Stiff neck
    • Bell's Palsy
    • Stroke
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Sprains

    Uro-Genital and Reproductive Disorders:

    • Impotence
    • Infertility
    • Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
    • Vaginitis
    • Irregular menses or cramping
    • Morning sickness
    • Pre and post-natal care

    Mental and Emotional Disorders:

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Stress
    • Insomnia
    • S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder)

How are Chinese Herbs prescribed?

Chinese herbs are prescribed by a practitioner based on an individualized pattern and disease diagnosis. The patient will receive a custom written prescription designed to treat both the individual symptoms, while also addressing the patient's underlying constitutional pattern. The herbs can be given in raw form (bulk), powdered form (granules) or pill form (patents).

What are herbal prescriptions made up of?

Chinese herbs consist of many natural substances, from bark, flowers, roots, leaves, twigs and stems. Occasionally herbal prescriptions may include ingredients from minerals or shells. Three Moons Wellness does not support the use of animal products in our herbal pharmacy nor do we condone the testing of any Medicines upon animals.

How are Chinese herbs taken?

Chinese herbs are typically given as a raw decoction (bulk) or a powdered decoction (granules), as these two methods allow us to customize the formula specifically for you. Raw herbs, which are ideal for acute conditions, are decocted by the patient, and made into a tea. The herbs are simmered for 35-45 minutes, strained, and the consumed twice per day. Powdered herbs, which are great for chronic conditions, are easier to prepare than raw herbs. The patient take 2-3 scoops, 2-3 times per day and the powders are simply dissolved in a small amount of warm water. Should both of those methods be too time consuming or a barrier to success, we may prescribe pills (patents). The one downside to pills is they cannot be customized and as such, these can be very effective for someone who has a problem that has mostly been resolved and is now coming in more for maintenance. The custom formulas allow the practitioner maximum flexibility in writing prescriptions for individual patients. This way, the patient can take modified formulas daily if conditions are rapidly changing.

Do Chinese Herbs have side effects? What about all the hype about contamination?

Generally speaking, no. If the formula is properly prescribed, there should be no adverse side effects. Most of the medicinals in Chinese Materia Medica have very low toxicity, especially when compared to most western pharmaceuticals. If a patient experiences any discomfort while taking the herbal prescription, they should inform their practitioner, and cease taking the formula immediately. The practitioner will then modify their formula to alleviate the side effects. Sometimes this is as easy as consuming the herbs before or with meals, or changing the dosage.

The quality and potency of our herbal products meet the strict laboratory standards set by the U.S. and Taiwanese pharmacopoeias. We take pride in the cleanliness of our preparation facility and the purity of our products. Whenever possible, our herbal products are organic.

Will Chinese Herbs interact with my Western medications?

This is one question we get a lot and the answer is no, if administered properly. For every formula we write for someone taking a western pharmaceutical, we look up each and every herb and their possible counteractions with western meds. This highly diminishes the likelihood of an adverse reaction. Generally, we will have people take their meds about 2 hours apart from their Chinese herbs also greatly diminishing the risks of an interaction. Finally, Chinese Medicine is very successful in alleviating the side effects of Western medications as well as very effective in helping people to safely come off of their Western medications.

Can pregnant women take Chinese herbs?

Yes, if prescribed by an experienced professional practitioner. This modality of Medicine has been prescribed to pregnant women for over 2,000 years and in fact, is very successful in treating a variety of issues that women experience during pregnancy such as morning sickness, breached fetus, pain, difficult labor/delivery, and a variety of other conditions.

Is acupuncture and Chinese herbs safe for children?

Yes. Pediatrics is in fact a specialty within Chinese Medicine. There are specially prepared pediatric Medicines in pill, powders and liquid forms. Chinese herbs can treat discomfort from colic, teething, earache, diarrhea, cough and fever in babies and small children. Further, it is becoming a more commonly sought out Medicine for emotional diagnoses such as ADD, ADHD, enuresis (bedwetting), and depression.

What should I look for when choosing a practitioner?

Currently, licensure in Chinese Medicine requires three to four years (3000+ hours) of postgraduate study at an accredited university. In the State of Vermont, acupuncturists must be nationally certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). They are required to pass 5 board exams in: Theory, Point Location, Acupuncture Techniques, Western BioMedicine, and Chinese Herbology. Once they have completed this and graduated with a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine, they then apply to their local state board for licensure within that state. If theyve met the prior credentials and have no outstanding legal or professional issues, they will most likely receive their licensure.

Something very important to consider are other practitioners who are practicing acupuncture. Medical doctors and osteopaths may practice acupuncture in Vermont without any specific training, and chiropractors need a mere 100 hours of theory and supervised clinical instruction to practice acupuncture. We always say, you wouldnt go to an acupuncturist for surgery, so why go to someone else for acupuncture?

Chinese Medicine is a very refined art form that takes years to practice and cultivate. It is an added bonus to find someone with postgraduate study experience and one who continually studies on their own to further their knowledge. Another extremely important criteria is patient/practitioner trust. As your honesty in your answers is of utmost importance and relevance to the ability for the practitioner to come up with a sound diagnosis, your comfort and trust with your practitioner is of utmost importance. Find someone that will be firmly committed to your health and needs. There are many styles of acupuncture, and many levels of advanced training that a practitioner may pursue. As a patient, you should feel free to ask about the training and credentials of any potential health care practitioner.

What are Yin and Yang?

Quite simply, Yin and Yang are the foundation of all of Chinese Medicine. As stated earlier Qi is an energy force that runs throughout the body. In addition, Qi is also prevalent throughout nature as well. Qi is comprised of two parts, Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces, that when balanced, work together. Any upset in the balance will result in natural calamities, in nature; and disease in humans. Yin and Yang are always described in relation to one another as you cant have one without the other. Therefore, if yin is weak relative to yang, then yang is in excess compared to yin. Everything contains both yin and yang. For examples, as humans, we are made up of our mother (yin) and our fathers (yang). This chart is a simple outline for describing the natures of yin vs. yang.

Yin Dark Cold Interior Resting Sinking Moon Earth
Yang Light Warm Exterior Active Rising Sun Heaven

Disease results if Yang and Yin are unbalanced. For instance, exposure to excessive cold ( too much Yin ) will result in damage to the Yang. This is why when we get frost bitten here in VT, we feel it burning. Similarly excessive heat and exertion, fever, infections, and fluid loss will all damage the Yin. Living according to the principles of yin and yang allows us to be more balanced and more in accordance with the laws of nature. As with most Chinese art forms, the utter simplicity of yin and yang are what ultimately can make it so complex, yet illuminating.