Dr. Jie Shen
Lic. Acupuncturist in NY, NJ & PA, M.D. in China
15-year Experience in Acupuncture Services
Serve Bergen County NJ and Orange and Rockland County NY
On Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture
A: Chinese Medicine is the oldest, professional, continually practiced, literate medicine in the world. This medical system’s written literature stretches back almost 2,500 years. And Currently ¼ of the world’s population makes use of it. One can say that modern Western and traditional Chinese medicines are the two dominant medical systems in the world today.
A: No. This system has been created by some of the best-educated and brightest scholars in Chinese history. These scholars have recorded their theories and clinical experiences from generation to generation in literally thousands of books. It is estimated that there are between 30-40,0000 books on Chinese medicine still in existence that were written before the turn of the century. Since then, thousands more books and articles in professional journals have been written and published in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
A: Chinese medicine works by re-establishing balance and harmony within the body. This means balance between yin an yang, balance between the five phases, balance between the viscera and bowels, and balance between the qi, blood, and body fluids. This balance is reestablished by supporting the body’s healthy or righteous energy and attacking any unhealthy or evil energy.
A: Practitioners of Chinese medicine diagnose what is out of balance in the person’s body by employing four basic examinations. The first is questioning about one’s signs and symptoms, medical history and course of disease. The second is visually inspecting one’s face, body, and especially one’s tongue and its coating. The third is listening to one’s voice and the sound of one’s breathing as well as smelling any odors emanating from one’s body or excretions. And the fourth is palpating various areas of the body and especially the pulse at both wrists. Using a combination of one’s sighs and symptoms, tongue diagnosis, and pulse diagnosis, the practitioner can determine the pattern of disharmony which requires rebalancing.
A: If something is too hot, the practitioner seeks to cool it down. If something is too cool, they try to warm it up. If something is too wet, they try to dry it, while if something is too dry, they try to moisten it. If something is too much, they try to make it less. And if something is too little, they try to build it up. If something is stuck, they try to move it, and if something is flowing inappropriately, they try to make it flow in the right direction and amount.
A: The main professionally applied methods of re-establishing balance are Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture-moxibustion. Chinese herbal medicine may be prescribed internally or applied externally. Acupuncture and moxibution seek to regulate the flow of qi and blood within the body by either inserting fine, sterile needles at certain acupoints or warming certain acupoints by various methods. In addition, they counsel their patients on diet and lifestyle, all according to the theories of Chinese medicine.
A: Chinese medicine is a complete medical system which attempts to treat the full range of disease, acute and chronic, traumatic, infectious, and internally generated. That being said, if a disease is extremely virulent or far advanced, and especially if there are serous changes in organic tissue, Chinese medicine by itself is sometimes not powerful enough or too slow. In particular, Chinese medicine is an excellent and effective choice at the beginning of any disease or for diseases which modern Western medicine either does not understand or for which it has no effective treatment. Furthermore, Chinese medicine can also speed up the healing process when use in conjunction with modern Western medicine.
A: Very. When practiced correctly by trained, qualified professional practitioners, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are extremely safe. In fact, when practiced correctly, they have no side effects and produce no iatrogenic or doctor-caused disease. If a patient reports side effects from a Chinese medical treatment, the practitioner modifies the treatment until there is healing without side effects. This is because Chinese medicine seeks to restore balance to the entire person, not just a piece or part. Side effects mean there is imbalance which needs to be corrected.
A: Chinese medicine has worked for thousands of year on literally billions of people. Because of the diverse population of China and its varied geography, Chinese medicine have proven itself effective on all sorts of ethnic groups in all sorts of climates and lifestyles. In fact, Chinese medicine is so universally effective that the World Health Organization has selected it for world-wide propagation. At this time, thousands of practitioners around the world are proving every day that Chinese medicine works no matter where one lives or what race one belongs to.
A: Acupuncture is one of the modalities of Oriental medicine. Although what is called acupuncture in the West comprises several different therapies (such as moxibustion and cupping), mostly is consists of the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. The Chinese has mapped these points over a period of tow thousand years, and there are 361 regular used acupoints. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of these points.
A: Modern Western medicine explain it works in such ways: acupuncture raises levels of hormone, white blood cells counts, and antibody to help increase immune function; Acupuncture stimulates the secretion of endorphin in the body which blocks the transmission of pain signal; Acupuncture dilates blood vessel, and helps circulation; Finally, acupuncture stimulates certain type of motor neurons which help muscle stretch.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of qi (a fine, essential substance which nourishes and constructs the body) Through distinct channels that cover the body somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels. According to this theory acupuncture adjusts the flow of qi in the body, leading it to areas where it is insufficient and draining it from areas where it is stuck and/or super-abundant. In this way, acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts. In Chinese, there is a saying, “ if there is pain, there is no free flow; if there is free flow, there is no pain.” Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the free flow of qi.
A: When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturists today use individually package, sterile, disposable needles. So there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion.
A: Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, and their insertion is practically painless. It is nothing like receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. Then, you will feel some tingling, warmth, heaviness, or a feeling of the energy moving up and down the channel. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.
A: Of course. The best practice among acupuncturists in USA today is to use sterilized, individually package, disposable needles. Needles should not be saved and reused for later treatments. This eliminates the possibility of transmitting some kind of communicable diseases by contaminated needles.
A: That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 5~10 treatment may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments, your practitioner may suggest dietary modification, specific exercise regimes, self-massage, and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which may help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture.
A: Prospective patients should ask about where the practitioner trained and for how long he or she has been in practice, and mostly important, what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment. Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in over 40 states in the U.S. In addition, the National commission for the Certification of Acupuncture &Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal practitioners. Acupuncturists who have at least 3~4 years’ training and passed the NCCAOM exam are entitled to add Dipl.Ac. (Diplomat of Acupuncture) after their names.
A: Your practitioner will explain the nature of your problem in Chinese medical terms and what treatment he or she is recommending. Your practitioner will tell you what benefits there are to the proposed treatment and what other treatment options are available to you through this practitioner or by referral to another practitioner or physician.
A: Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, or shortly after exercise will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment.
A: Relax. There is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner
any questions you have along the way so that your can get the most benefit
possible from the treatment.
A: Patients often experience dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of hours. Generally, you should expect to feel better.
Herbal medicine is the main treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is the world’s oldest, continually practiced professional medicine. Its written history stretches back over 2,500 years and its practice is probably much older than that.
Although acupuncture was the first Chinese method of treatment to gain wide acceptance in the West, Chinese herbal medicine is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies in the West.
A: Western folk herbalism primarily treats diseases or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, menstrual pain, etc. Chinese herbal medicine, when practiced as a part of TCM, is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well as a disease diagnosis. Your pattern is made up of your signs and symptoms, your emotional temperament and the overall composition of your body; The TCM patient receives a custom written herbal prescription designed to treat their individual pattern as well as the symptom or disease.
Western folk herbalism usually focuses on one symptom or disease at a time and use a single herb or groups of herbs for treatment; TCM formulas are crafted to treat your entire pattern as well as the symptoms or disease that prompted you to seek treatment. TCM formulas may include six to eighteen herbs to treat the symptoms or disease as well as you entire pattern.
A: Chinese herbal medicine may include vegetable, animal, and mineral ingredients. However, the majority of ingredients are from vegetable sources. Leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tuber, rhizomes, and bark are among the parts of the vegetable used.
A: The Chinese adopted and incorporated herbs from all over the world. Fifteen to twenty percent of the 500 ingredients considered standard originated from outside China. What makes these “Chinese” herbs is that they are prescribed according to Chinese medial theory and a TCM pattern diagnosis.
A: Yes, Chinese herbal medicine works as well for Westerners as it does for Chinese. Chinese herbal medicine has been used successfully the North and Sough America, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and all throughout Asia.
A: The most common method of taking Chinese herbal medicine is drinking a liquid, prepared by boiling the selected herbs. There are also herbal pills, tinctures, and powdered extracts for those who do not have the time or taste for drinking the more traditional liquid form.
A: This method allows the practitioner maximum flexibility in writing a prescription. They can put in just what is necessary in just the right amounts. The formula can be changed frequently, if necessary, and the liquid forms tend be more potent than other means of administration.
A: Chinese herbal teas tend to taste very bitter because they are made mostly from roots and bark where the strongest medicinal ingredients are found.
A: Pills and powders are good for:
A: Most of the components pf Chinese herbal medicine have a very low toxicity compared to even common, over-the-counter Western drugs. When they are prescribed according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, they should have few, if any, side effects, only beneficial healing results.
If you experience any discomfort while taking Chinese herbal medicine, tell your practitioner who will modify the formula until there are no side effects.
A: Chinese herbal medicine treats the full range of human disease. It is used to treat:
A: A professional TCM practitioner can write prescriptions that are appropriate for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
A: Yes again. Pediatrics is a specialty within TCM and children can be given reduced dosages. There are also specially prepared pediatric medicines in pill and powder form. Chinese herbal medicine can treat colic, the fussiness of teething, earache, diarrhea, cough, and fever in babies and children.
A: In acute conditions, results may occur in a matter of minutes. Chronic conditions, some results should be seen within one week. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbal medicine for long time, signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to the patient and practitioner alike almost form the very start.
A: Although Chinese herbal medicines are safe when prescribed by a trained, knowledgeable practitioner, they are strong medicine. Patients should ask about where the practitioner trained, how long the training was, how long he or she has been in practice, and what experience the practitioner has had in treating the patient’s specific ailment.
Chinese herbal medicine may be part of the testing done where acupuncture is a licensed and regulated healthcare profession. Ask your practitioner if your state requires a license to practice; about half the states do. In states that do not currently require licensing, patients should ask their practitioner if they are certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). NCCAOM has created a certification process for Chinese herbal medicine. Practitioners who have passed that certification are entitled to add the abbreviation Dipl.C.H. (Diplomat of Chinese Herbs) after their names.
In addition to your physician’s Western medical diagnosis, Chinese medicine has its own system of personalized pattern discrimination. A Chinese medical pattern is a professionally recognized grouping of signs and symptoms. These sighs and symptoms are collected by the practitioner by what in Chinese medicine are called the “four examinations.” These four examinations are looking, listening-smelling, palpation, and questioning.
Looking means looking at the patient with normal eyesight. Your
practitioner looks at the brightness and clarity of your eyes, the color
and luster of your complexion, your facial expression, and your posture
and movement. He or she will also visually inspect any problem areas you
report. For instance, if you have a skin rash, your practitioner will want
to see its shape, color, location, and size. Similarly, if you say that
your elbow hurts, your practitioner will also visually inspect your elbow
and its surrounding tissue to look for swelling, changes in color, and/or
changes in shape.
In ancient Chinese, there is a single verb, which covers both listening and smelling. Your practitioner will listen to the sound of your voice and the clarity of your communication. He or she will also listen to the sound of your breathing and the sound of any coughing or wheezing. In terms of smelling, these days this is mostly covered under questioning, where your practitioner may ask you about bad breath, unusual body odor, or the smell of your feces, urine, and/or vaginal discharges.
Palpation means feeling with one’s hands. There are tow divisions to palpation examination in Chinese medicine. The first of these is general palpation of any area of pain or discomfort. For instance, if you have sprained your wrist, your practitioner will want to feel the wrist. Likewise, if you say you have abdominal pain, your practitioner will want to palpate every patient’s abdomen on a routine basis.
The other main type of palpation in Chinese medicine is palpation of the pulse. This primarily means feeling the radial arteries at the wrists of both hands. Chinese doctors have believed for at least 2,000 years that one can diagnose all the main visceral and bowels through palpation of these arteries. Although there are several different styles of pulse palpation currently in use, all are based on the division of this section of these arteries into three areas, which correspond to three areas of the human body and their organs. By exerting different degrees of pressure at these three areas on the wrist, we believe one can detect pathological changes in all the main viscera and bowels of Chinese medicine. In order to describe and record the feelings under their fingertips, Chinese doctors use 28 different pulse images or feelings. One or more of these pulse images may combine together, thus forming a large number of possible variables. Pulse examination is the seemingly most arcane of the four Chinese medical examinations. However, it is based on definite standards and it has proven its worth in over 2,000 years of recorded clinical history.
Questioning is, in many ways, the most important of the four examinations. Your practitioner may question you in either or both of two ways:
You will typically find that Chinese medical practitioners ask many more questions than Western MDs do. This is because Chinese medical patterns describe the whole person, not just their disease or major complaint. We want to know about your appetite, diet, elimination, energy, sleep, mood, perspiration, body temperature, menstrual cycle, reproductive history, medical history, and as many details as possible about your main complaints. By the time your Chinese medical practitioner is through asking you questions, he or she should have a pretty complete picture of you as and individual person. Of course, all answers to these questions are protected by professional confidentiality.
Although there are four examinations, for the purposes of professional pattern discrimination, the information gathered by these four examinations is summarized under three main headings: general signs and symptoms, tongue signs, and pulse signs. It is the confluence of these three groups of information that establish a Chinese medical pattern. When treatment is given based on a combination of both your Western disease diagnosis and a Chinese medical pattern discrimination, you can be sure you are receiving the most comprehensive, holistic care available in the world today.
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