July 8th, 2011

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE

acupuncture for women

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a system of healthcare aimed at naturally promoting health and alleviating sickness through the stimulation of very specific anatomical points, known as acupuncture points, throughout the body. These points generally lie along meridians, or energy channels, that run through and along the surface of the body. It is believed that pain and sickness occur when these channels become blocked, and that these blockages can be removed through the stimulation of acupuncture points. In modern day acupuncture, this stimulation is achieved by superficially inserting sterile, super thin, disposable needles into these points. This may be done with or without the addition of gentle manipulation, heat, or electricity to further stimulate the points and break up the obstructions. 

 

Although acupuncture may seem mysterious to some, it is a time tested therapy that was first developed in China thousands of years ago and is still very much a main method of healthcare there and in many other parts of the world today. It is one of the most proven and well-known forms of alternative therapies, and many studies have been conducted demonstrating the safety and efficacy of acupuncture.

 

How does acupuncture work?

According to classical theory, acupuncture works by removing the obstructions in the energy channels, or meridians, in the body. Like rivers of energy, these meridians flow along regular pathways to irrigate and nourish the body's organs and tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these rivers is like a dam that backs up the natural flow of energy, causing an imbalance that manifests as sickness and pain. By inserting needles and stimulating acupuncture points, an acupuncturist removes these dams and restores the natural balance and smooth flow of energy throughout the body. 

 

In contrast to the classical theory, modern science proposes that needling acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release biochemicals, such as endorphins, immune system cells, and neurotransmitters, in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. In addition to killing pain, these chemicals can influence the internal regulating system of the body and affect involuntary bodily functions such as blood flow, immune reactions, body temperature, and digestion. 

 

Is it safe?

When administered by a licensed practitioner, acupuncture is a very safe form of therapy. Licensed acupuncturists in Florida are trained and certified in Clean Needle Technique, which requires the adherence to strict safety guidelines, such as the use of sterile, disposable needles, to minimize the risk of infection. 

 

What can acupuncture treat?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture has been proven effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions, ranging from pain problems, to addictions, to emotional disorders. To view a list of conditions I commonly treat, please see my Conditions Treated page. 

 

Does acupuncture hurt?

For most people, acupuncture causes minimal to no pain. The needles used during acupuncture are very fine and are nothing like the hypodermic needles used to give injections at a doctor's office. A patient may feel a slight prick similar to a mosquito bite when the needle is first inserted. At times, a tingling, dull ache, or warm sensation may be experienced at the point where the needle is inserted. This is a desired affect and should not be uncomfortable. Often, during an acupuncture treatment, a patient feels so relaxed that he or she will fall asleep. 

What is the difference between getting acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) or from a medical doctor or chiropractor with an acupuncture certification?

In the state of Florida,, licensed acupuncturists are required to complete a minimum of 4year  academic years of study, with the equivalent of 2700 hours of study including treating patients. In addition, in order to become licensed, candidates must pass a rigorous national board examination given by the National Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). In contrast, in most states, medical doctors can practice acupuncture with little or no training, and chiropractors can practice it with as little as 300 hours of training. Licensed acupuncturists use acupuncture and its underlying theories as their main method of healthcare, enabling them to fully focus and expand their expertise in that area. This allows them to take advantage of the broad range of its applications as well as go more in depth in treating individual cases. Meanwhile, others are practicing acupuncture without the L.Ac. title may only use it for very limited applications or as an adjunctive technique. 

 

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INTEGRATIVE WEIGHT MANAGEMENT


Before there were fad diets, nutritionist or television shows that featured people going through grueling challenges to lose weight there was Chinese Dietary Therapy. Chinese Dietary Therapy is seen as a sub-group of Chinese Herbal Medicine, where the TCM practitioner gives dietary guidance on a wide range of foods to support the health recovery process. This therapy has a history of over 3000 years and a very rich content, which has been recorded in classical Chinese medical literature, as well as being handed down from generation to generation .According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), foods have individual therapeutic properties which can not only be used to maintain health, but also to contribute to the treatment of illnesses. In more modern times Western science has been able to shed some light on the ancient secrets of Chinese dietary therapy and we can now explain why this treatment approach has been so powerfully effective throughout the millennia. The latest scientific research the US now suggests that over 70% of cancers are preventable by diet alone.

An important aspect of Chinese Dietary therapy is that the “one diet fits all” approach doesn’t apply to the principles of Chinese Medicine. Literally one man’s meat can be another man’s poison and the dietary advice should always take into consideration the physical condition of the individual, environmental adaptations as well as the seasonal context within which that person is living. In South Florida, we face the challenge of living in a hot damp environment with cold air conditioning. Typical diet foods that one may consider to work in shedding pounds may actually be counterproductive in Chinese Dietary Therapy. So many of my patients who  make simple changes to  their diet  are surprised how quickly they feel better and lose pounds that they were not able to do by traditional dieting alone. Dietary therapy in conjunction with acupuncture, and herbs have a profound effect on patients well being and the ability to lose and keep weight off.

Acupuncture is aimed at getting to the root of the issue by correcting internal imbalances and working with the body to lose weight and restore health. With regular acupuncture treatments, balanced functioning of the organ systems can be restored, resulting in faster metabolism, increased energy, improvement of pain problems, detoxification of the body, and loss of excess water and fat. In addition, the insertion of needles in acupuncture points causes the body to release certain biochemicals, such as endorphins, which can have a profound effect on stress levels. By reducing stress levels, acupuncture can help put a stop to emotional eating and give a boost to one's willpower. 

Like any healthy weight management system, acupuncture is not a magic bullet for weight loss and results cannot be expected overnight. Losing weight in the most healthful and effective way takes dedication and cooperation on the patient's part to commit to getting regular treatments, adopt healthy eating habits, and stick to an exercise program. By following a comprehensive weight loss program that includes acupuncture, patients can not only expect to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but they can also expect an improvement in overall health and vitality. 

Twenty years ago I began working with Andrew Weil M.D. and he sent his patients to me for assistance with learning now to shop in stores for high quality food and how to correctly stock their pantries. Several years later under his advisement, I attended and received my chef’s certificate from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts in NYC. It was important for me to be able to practice Nutrition and other modalities of medicine in a legal and organized fashion. Or perhaps Oriental Medicine is a fully inclusive type of medicine that I could legally practice nutrition and other forms of treatment.  Most of my continuing education is in Nutrition and my practice encompasses many forms of nutritional medicine. I also have a certification in Chinese Dietetics. I also have a women’s weight loss support group where patients come weekly to meet with other patients, myself and my business partner, Dr. Nancy Scheinman, PhD.

In Florida it is legally within the scope of our practice to practice Chinese dietary therapy and nutrition. 

 

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