Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine


                    Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

                         Overview of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
                         Why Use Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine? 

                         What is the History?
                         What is Acupuncture?
                         What are Meridians? 
                         What is Qi or Chi? 
                         How Does Acupuncture Work? 
                         What are the Limits of Oriental Medicine? 
                         How can I evaluate an Acupuncture Practitioner?
                         What is treatment like?
                         Is It Safe?
                         Does it hurt? 
                         Are the needles clean?
                         How many treatments will I need?
                         What conditions are treatable by Acupuncture?

Overview of Acupuncture and Energy Medicine
Acupuncture is an essential part of Oriental Medicine, a comprehensive system of health care with a continuous clinical history of over 3000 years.  Oriental medicine includes acupuncture, Chinese herbology, bodywork, dietary therapy and exercise based on Traditional Oriental Medicine principles.

Oriental medicine is based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine.  The ancient Chinese recognized a vital energy behind all life forms and life processes.  They called this energy Qi or Chi (pronounced chee).  In developing an understanding of the prevention and cure of disease, these healing practitioners discovered that this energy flows along specific pathways called ‘meridians’.  Each pathway is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ.

Disease is considered to arise due to a deficiency or imbalance of energy in the meridians and their associated physiological systems.Traditional Oriental Medicine uses an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis, palpation of points and meridians, medical history and other signs and symptoms to create a composite Oriental medical diagnosis.  A treatment plan is then formulated to return the body to a balanced state of health.     

Why Use Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
In addition to being effective for many acute and chronic common illnesses, Oriental Medicine has much to offer those who wish to raise their quality of health and vitality. Practitioners of Oriental Medicine operate with prevention in mind, attempting to correct small energetic imbalances before they become big health problems. Current health trends emphasizing exercise, proper nutrition, stress reduction and immune system strengthening all validate the lifestyles and methods that have long been a focus of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

What is the History?
Most experts agree that acupuncture is over 3000 years old. Oriental Medicine is the most widely utilized healing system on the planet. Its roots are in China, but evidence of its potential to help the sick and injured are apparent in many places, including all of Asia, Europe and North and South America.  

What is Acupuncture?
Traditional acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (Energy) and Xue (Blood) through distinct meridians or pathways that cover the body somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels. Acupuncture is intended to promote health and alleviate pain and suffering. The method by which this is accomplished has been time tested over thousands of years and continues to be validated today.

Dr. Melanie as well as most acupuncturists view health and sickness in terms of the concepts of “vital energy,” “energetic balance” and “energetic imbalance.” According to ancient theory, acupuncture allows Qi to flow to areas where it is deficient and away from areas where it is excessive. In this way, acupuncture regulates and restores the harmonious energetic balance of the body. The Chinese have a saying, “There is no pain if there is free flow; if there is pain, there is no free flow.”

Just as the Western medical doctor monitors the blood flowing through blood vessels and the messages traveling via the nervous system, the acupuncturist assesses the flow and distribution of this “vital energy” within its pathways, known as “meridians and channels.” The acupuncturist is able to influence health and sickness by stimulating certain areas along these “meridians.” Traditionally these areas or “acupuncture points” have been stimulated by the insertion of fine, slender needles.

What are Meridians?
Several thousand years ago Chinese Physicians discovered that Qi, the vital life force or energy, circulates throughout the body along fourteen major channels or meridians. Twelve of these meridians are duplicated on the left and right sides of the body. The other two major meridians are located along the front and back midline of the body. In addition several extra channels also run through out the body. Meridians form a highly complex invisible network that transport and direct Qi to every part of the body from head to toe and skin to bones. You can think of it as the freeways and highways running through your body. Good health depends on the free flow of Qi or energy throughout the meridians. Over centuries of trial and error and meticulous observation, the Chinese accurately mapped the locations of the meridians and identified hundreds of specific points along these pathways where Qi can be accessed and manipulated. These points are known as acupuncture points or acupoints.

What is Qi and Chi?
One English translation of the word Qi means energy and though Qi is invisible, its presence becomes especially apparent in the workings of the organs and organ systems of the body. The Chinese view Qi as powering a function as well as see it as inseparable from that function. It’s as though there’s no Qi without function and no function without Qi.

Qi is also known as the life force. Since the total absence of Qi is death, obviously one’s good health depends on a balanced distribution of Qi throughout the meridian network. This network influences the organs and the organ systems: skeletal, muscular, immune, lymphatic, endocrine, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, integumentary, and nervous. When Qi flows smoothly and harmoniously throughout the meridians each organ system and organ interacts with and affects all of the other systems and organs which in turn are interdependent, interrelated, and integrated.When Qi is blocked at a point along a meridian, you can think of it as a car wreck on the freeway causing a huge traffic jam. Traffic backs up and eventually comes to a complete stop. And access ramps are blocked until the traffic is cleared. Once traffic is cleared, one lane begins to open and move until eventually all lanes of the highway have resumed full speed and flow. You can think of the needle insertion into an acupuncture point as that wrecker or traffic cop who unblocked the flow of traffic thus allowing the free flow of Qi to resume throughout the body.

How Does Acupuncture Work?
For millennia, the acupuncturist has engaged subtle human energies known as “Qi.” According to time-tested principles unique to Oriental Medicine, the acupuncturist assesses and adjusts the flow and distribution of “Qi” in order to promote health and healing. So far, modern research has described numerous physiological shifts following acupuncture, including beneficial changes in the body’s own natural painkillers, anti-inflammatory agents, immune system functions and hormonal activity.

What are the Limits of Oriental Medicine?
Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture are powerful healing tools, but they are neither panaceas, nor the solution to every health care problem. Both Western and Oriental Medicine have their respective strengths and weaknesses, which is why in modern China, the two systems are used together in all major hospitals. When appropriately combined, the patient is well served.

In general, Western medical doctors best handle acute life-threatening conditions. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine often benefits routine health problems and chronic conditions for which drug therapy and surgery have not been effective.

How can I evaluate an Acupuncture Practitioner?
Always ask any practitioner about the extent of their training. They should have completed an accredited degree program and have passed all national certification board exams. Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in most of the United States. In Florida, Doctor’s of Oriental Medicine/Acupuncturists are considered Primary Health Care Physicians. The State of Florida requires a license to practice Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and each practitioner must be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Acupuncturists who have passed this certification are awarded Diplomate Status.

Ask the practitioner to explain the differences between Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine in language you can understand. Oriental Medicine has its limitations just as Western Medicine does. Look for practitioners who know their limitations and have referral networks to take care of health issues they cannot address. Ask about their previous experience with conditions similar to your own. Although it is difficult to forecast response to treatments, ask about the signs and changes that the practitioner would look for to confirm that your treatment is progressing well.

What is Treatment Like?
Most patients say treatments are “relaxing.” Usually patients leave in less discomfort and are more functional than when they walked in. Sometimes the effects are too subtle to perceive, especially in the beginning of treatment. Generally, after three treatments noticeable shifts will occur. And after five to ten treatments the improvements become more and more apparent.

Is it Safe?
When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner such as Dr. Melanie, acupuncture is safe, effective and free from adverse or addictive side effects. Licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy well, and insert needles in a safe fashion. The instruments used to penetrate the skin are pre-sterilized and disposed of after a single use as required by Florida law. The practitioner is well aware of the concern over infectious diseases and, like all health care professionals, takes every measure to insure cleanliness. Bleeding rarely occurs, unless it is elicited intentionally in specific situations. Even then, the amount is minimal and in no way dangerous.

Does it Hurt?
Acupuncture needles are flexible and fine, about the size of a strand of human hair. When skillfully inserted by  Dr. Melanie the slender needle produces little or no sensation.  Acupuncture applied correctly is virtually painless.  First-time patients are usually amazed at how comfortable they are during treatment.  Many of them comment, “They don’t feel a thing.”  People have described the sensation of their acupuncture treatments with the following range of descriptions — from nothing at all, to mild tingling, to slight numbness or achiness, to pulsations in areas distant from the site of insertion.   In any case, if you experience any discomfort, it is usually mild and a result of blocked energy trying to move.  Anything beyond a mild discomfort should be brought to the attention of Dr. Melanie, who can make adjustments or remove the needles.  For non-needle acupuncture treatment, refer to our Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology Emotional Balancing Sessions.

Are the Needles Clean?
In Florida and in the United States, Acupuncturists are required by law to use sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles. Needles are not saved or reused for later treatments.  They are properly disposed of in Sharps containers and treated as Biohazardous Waste.  This eliminates the possibility of transmitting a communicable disease by a contaminated needle. 

How Many Treatments Will I Need?
That depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint.  You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition.  A series of five to 15 treatments may resolve many chronic problems.  Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time.  A treatment plan will be discussed during your initial consult.

What Conditions are Treatable by Acupuncture?
Chinese Medicine sees all illness as a process of energetic disharmony which Acupuncture can help re-establish. There are no disorders for which this form of treatment is inappropriate. The World Health Organization and NIH have recommended acupuncture for a wide variety of ailments and diseases. A few examples are:

INFECTIONS:  bronchitis, colds and flus, hepatitis

SKIN:  acne, eczema, herpes, hives, psoriasis, rashes, shingles

MENTAL, EMOTIONAL:  ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic disorders, stress

EYES, EARS, NOSE, THROAT:  allergies, cough, dizziness, dry/red/watery eyes, earaches, hay fever, poor eyesight, ringing in the ears, sinus infection, sore throat, tinnitus, vertigo

INTERNAL MEDICINE:  acid reflux, asthma, bloating, chemical and drug sensitivities, chronic fatigue, colitis, compromised immune system, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, diverticulitis, edema, fibromyalgia, gas, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, indigestion, low blood pressure, organ disorders (liver, gall bladder, kidney, lungs, stomach, spleen, bladder, intestines, heart), thyroid conditions, ulcers, syndromes associated with cancer and effects of chemotherapy

MUSCLES, NERVES & BONES: arthritis, Bell’s Palsy, bursitis, carpal tunnel, cerebral palsy, frozen shoulder, headaches, injuries, joint pain, multiple sclerosis, musculoskeletal pain patterns (back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle), nervous disorders, numbness or cramping, neuralgia, Parkinson’s, polio, sciatica, sprains/strains, stiff neck, stroke, tendonitis, trigeminal neuralgia, whiplash  

REPRODUCTIVE:  gynecological dysfunctions, hot flashes, infertility, irregular periods and cramps, morning sickness, night sweats, pelvic inflammatory disease, premenstrual syndrome, prostate, vaginitis     

ADDICTIONS: drugs, alcohol, food, stop smoking, weight loss

Dr. Melanie offers private Acupuncture sessions by appointment only at her office in St. Petersburg, Florida.  To schedule an appointment, please call (727) 522-6515 or email.