Think outside the Doc! (western doctor that is.) RBG Alternative Health Tips: Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

Tired of taking and buying the artificial drugs pumped by the Western medical establishment? Tired of the side effects? High health cost bills? no cure for recurring issues? yeah, feel you dawg. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine is an effective, affordable means to treat and cure many conditions and help maintain healthy balance…but many are unaware of the many benefits it offers. Let’s do the knowledge so you know your options a bit better…

Read on…

Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

Despite the progress made in modern and alternative medicine, there are substantial deficiencies in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, AIDS, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, and diabetes and other metabolic diseases. There exists a deficiency, compared to what is believed to be ultimately possible, namely to cure most people with the disease, or at least reduce the manifestation of the disease to a relatively mild problem. Modern medicine and the alternatives that were developed here make a contribution to this goal, but additional assistance is sometimes needed…and preferred. Western Medicine is  often cutting, drugging or otherwise invasive, where as natural methodologies such as TCM offer holistic treatments with no side effects.

The term “Chinese medicine” makes reference to a number of practices, especially acupuncture and herbal formulas and their theoretical basis that has developed in China during a period of about 3,000 years. A theory of nature and of health and disease was set forth in the concepts of two essential forces-yin and yang, three essences, five elements, six climatic influences, seven emotional factors, eight principles of therapy, fourteen-meridians, and other notions numbered as an aid to memorizing the information. These concepts continued to evolve over the centuries until the collision of Chinese and Western culture ensued in the nineteenth century. Today, Chinese medicine represents a combination of ideas and methods from earlier times coupled with the findings from modern research methods, chemical analysis, pharmacological testing in the laboratory, and clinical trials. Chinese medicine is a major health care method in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and other Asian Countries. Its apparent success there has led it to be adopted, in much smaller measure thus far, in South America, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. 

At the very least, it can make you feel more energetic, yet more relaxed, and it can alleviate some disease symptoms; at its best, Chinese medicine can potentially cure or help to cure conditions that have been called incurable; in some cases it may have as good or better an effect as Western medicines without the side effects. The benefits of Chinese medicine will depend on several factors, including the nature of the problems being addressed, the competence of the practitioner, and the willingness of the individual to follow through with various aspects of the proposed treatment. 

With regard to herbal medicine, there are three strong pieces of evidence suggesting that it is a viable means of treatment: 

a) modern pharmaceutical drugs have been produced, tested, and put into use during this past century following long use as crude herbs in China. The best known examples are the modern drugs ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from the herb ma-huang. These drugs have been used to treat asthma and sinus congestion, and modern studies show that they enhance metabolic rate and thus might be useful in a weight loss program. An active component of licorice has been made into a drug in Europe used for treating gastric ulcers. Polysaccharides from the Chinese herbs astragalus and ganoderma have been made into drugs to enhance immune functions. An active component of the Chinese herb schizandra has been pharmaceutically altered in China to yield a highly effective treatment for hepatitis. The yew tree, which is now used as the source of a drug in the U.S. to treat ovarian cancer, has been-used in China for several decades as an anti-cancer plant. A species of Artemisia widely used in Chinese medicine has yielded a drug that cures malaria and is now used in Southeast Asia.
b) Pharmacological testing-giving herb extracts to laboratory animals or applying them to cell cultures – has been carried out on hundreds of Chinese herbs during the last forty years. It has been demonstrated that most of the herbs have significant physiological activity and very often this activity correlates well with the traditional use of the herb.
c) Clinical studies, utilizing single herbs or, more often, complex formulas, have been carried out, by large-scale hospital trials involving hundreds of patients. The results of the studies – which need to be confirmed by follow-up studies in order to validate the findings-clearly indicate that recalcitrant diseases that fail to respond satisfactorily to modern pharmaceutical treatments often do respond markedly to herbal therapy. Acupuncture and other methods of Chinese medicine which are not conducive to the other two methods of demonstrating efficacy have been tested clinically and shown effective for certain conditions. 

Acupuncture therapy has wide applications. It may achieve better results by treating conditions of discomfort. These would include: pain and muscle spasm, digestive problems, difficult breathing, GYN related disorders, and emotional stress. It is not uncommon for a high degree of relief to be achieved immediately upon treatment. The persistence of the relief is variable. In some cases one or a few’ treatments can alleviate a problem that has been nagging for many months in other cases, the relief may last only a day, though the results may persist after repeated treatments. It is difficult to know the response until it has been tried. 

In general, herb therapies are best for functional disorders, hormonal imbalances, and “organic problems (changes in tissue structure). For example, herb therapy can be applied to weak digestive power, estrogen deficiency conditions, arid cysts and tumors, etc. The effects of herbs are usually (but not always) seen after several days of regular use, rather than immediately, but once the effects are established, they often persist for a long time. The use of herbs plus acupuncture usually provides the most dramatic results. 

Chinese medicine is well known for its lack of side effects. Minor problems may arise: acupuncture point stimulation can cause minor and temporary bruising and if a needle is used, bleeding can occur at the site of needle insertion; Chinese herbs may cause gastro-intestinal reactions (nausea or diarrhea), or allergic reactions (skin rash).
The only potentially dangerous result of acupuncture would be if a needle inserted in the area of the chest penetrates the lung and causes loss of pressure in the lungs. This condition is easily treated and resolved, but must be attended to promptly. The event is so rare among well-trained professionals that it does not enter into general consideration.

The only potentially dangerous result of Chinese herb therapy would be anaphylaxis (a severe type of allergic reaction). This has never been reported in the U.S., but has occurred in China, where herbs are provided by injection and more reactive substances are sometimes used. 

Not only can the two systems of medicine be combined, they can enhance each other’s effects Chinese herbs may make it possible to take a lower dosage of modern medicines, to reduce their side effects, and obtain a better overall effect. Modern drugs may provide emergency relief for serious conditions that will enable 1ong-term application of Chinese herbs the rest of the time. It is advised that modern drugs be taken at a different time from herb combinations in order to avoid any chance of interaction within the digestive system, and that the effects of drugs continued to be monitored, while an herb therapy is being used. Acupuncture is compatible with virtually all-modern medical techniques. 

No medical system, technique, or material is 100% effective. When considering all improvements of a patient under the care of a Chinese medical practitioner in China, about 70-95% such patients report a positive outcome of varying degrees. Certainly, a portion of this may be due to coincidental improvement, the “placebo effect,” and other aspects of the therapeutic encounter. However, it is still expected that when these are compensated for that at least 50% of individuals will demonstrate a favorable response. If the modern medical approach or another alternative approach does not have a clearly identified high rate of success, then Chinese medicine may offer the best chance of producing a good result. Even if the absence of obvious benefits, the lack of side effects and the potential protective and preventative effects of this treatment method are important. 

Since Traditional Chinese Health Care methods were introduced to America in late 1972, almost thirty years ago, over 6,000 practitioners participate in various aspects of these methods as an important part of their practice. By far the largest group are the acupuncturists, who are licensed or certified by the state in which they are working (about half are also certified by a national testing organization called National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists-NCCA). Chinese Herbologists are also a substantial presence and although this group is not often licensed by a state they also can obtain specialized certification sponsored by same national testing organization as the acupuncturists. There are also some other health professionals who have adopted one or more portions of the Chinese medical techniques in addition to their primary healthcare training – medical doctors, naturopathic physicians, etc.

Each health profession has different types and levels of training. For example, a medical doctor necessarily has extensive training in modern western medicine, but can practice acupuncture therapy with little or no training in that particular field. An acupuncturist might have received little or no training in modern medicine, but instead spent two to three years studying acupuncture. Consultations for Chinese herbs has been emphasized in training programs in California and Florida. In China, Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors, also have some varying training during their six years of school. All are trained as medical doctors, but their training in Western medicine is less comprehensive than that of a person who trained in the U.S.; on the other hand, they have received extensive training in Chinese herbology and Acupuncture by highly experienced practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. This training is in a favorable clinical setting, and yields a better understanding of using one type of health care approach or the other or both, than is usually obtained by students attending colleges of traditional medicine in the U.S. 

Clearly, the exact cost would depend on the nature of the condition being treated, how extensively the method would be pursued, and what the particular practitioner charges. Recently a rough cost/benefit analysis was conducted. It revealed that a typical three-month treatment program for a chronic ailment that employed acupuncture and Chinese herbs as the main mode of therapy could have a cost comparable to a one-night stay in a metropolitan hospital. Many insurance policies will cover a portion of these costs (that related to office visits and acupuncture, but not herbal prescriptions).

ok, last thing…Does Acupuncture HURT?

Not really. Not even. you barely feel it. Happy Healing! Chi up!

#health is wealth


2 thoughts on “Think outside the Doc! (western doctor that is.) RBG Alternative Health Tips: Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

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