Variety of Interventions
Natural Medicine involves a
multiplicity of therapies employed to initiate a healing response. At
North Florida Acupuncture we employ what we feel to be the most
effective forms of Chinese and Natural medicine. These therapies include body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, Tuina (Chinese medical massage), cupping, Guasha, moxabustion,herbal therapy, homeopathy, and nutritional supplements.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest
medical healing interventions in the world, and it along with Oriental
medicine is used by approximately 1/4 of the entire world’s population. In
1993, the FDA estimated Americans made approximately 12 million visits per year
to acupuncture physicians with upwards of 1/2 billion dollars spent on
Originating in China roughly 3,000 year ago,
acupuncture involves the insertion of filiform needles at specific
areas in the body called acupoints. These acupoints lie on meridians or
channels that course throughout the body and meet at the head.
Acupuncture works to manipulate and reestablish a healthy flow of Qi or
vital force/energy in the body. Qi flows through the body in a cyclical
manner through 12 major meridians or channels in the body that
correspond to organs and organ networks.
What is this thing called "Qi"
Acupuncture’s concepts are based on pre-scientific paradigms that evolved over hundreds of years and revolve around Qi, Yin, and Yang. Qi is often a difficult concept to fully understand, for both the easterner and the westerner, but more specifically the later. Qi is often defined in modern terms simply as “energy”.
Nearly every ancient culture on the planet had a similar concept of this life giving energy. Leon Hammer, MD has equated Qi to ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which acts as fuel for the cells. Qi is thought to travel through the acupuncture channel system which lies in the fascial spaces of the body and is what is manipulated during an acupuncture treatment in an attempt to bring the body back to homeostasis.
Acupuncture Points & Channels
Any tender point in the body is
considered to be an acupuncture point called Ashi points, however, the
are 12 major channels and 2 extraordinary channels that run throughout
the body where the majority of 361 classical acupuncture points lie. Although there are an estimated 2,000 acupuncture points on the human
body. The Qi of the body flows through the main 12 meridians
or channels in a 24 hour cycle peaking at different organs at different
times. These 12 channels include the Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach,
Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, Triple
Burner, Gallbladder and Liver with the two extra channels known as the
Conception Vessel and Governing Vessel. Six other channels or pathways
exist that utilize other existing acupuncture points on the body. There
are all types of various parings with these organs and associations
that correspond with them creating a holistic paradigm of understanding.
How does it work?
There are several explanations
for acupuncture’s effects on the body and I will elaborate of two
explanations: the traditional view and the contemporary, scientific
The traditional view of how acupuncture works involved the mechanism of Qi. Ancient practitioners discovered and believed that Qi flows in 12 major meridians or pathways throughout the body in a 24 hour cycle. Qi is
the vitalistic principle that gives the body “life” and is accessed at
specific points along these channels where it collects. Certain points
have affinities for addressing certain pathologies in the body either
adding energy to the system or taking it away in conditions where it is
in pathological excess. Altering and manipulating the flow of Qi in the
body aids in restoring balance to the system increasing a person’s
potential for health and alleviating pain.
The scientific view of
acupuncture’s effect involves several different theories which include
the Placebo, Neurological or Gate, Neurhumoral, and
It could be said that any and all
medicines and interventions have the potential of having a placebo
effect on healing and could be said that acupuncture is no different.
Although belief most certainly is a very powerful aid to healing and
wellness, acupuncture’s effect far surpass just a belief. This
explanation for acupuncture’s effects though is incomplete.
of acupuncture points has been shown to produce a wide variety of
physiological responses in the body. Secondly, there is controversy on
placebo based studies which may produce inaccurate results. Some pain
studies involving acupuncture has produced 70-80% results while only
30% with placebo.
Neurological or Gate Theory
In 1975 the Gate theory of nerve
transmission was formulated in which the premise of acupuncture
stimulation primarily affects the nervous systems causing a block to
pain stimuli and producing pain relieving messages. This process
involves the brain and spinal chord in a messenger and signal oriented
relationship. While this explanation is useful, it is also incomplete
as acupuncture’s effects go beyond the treatment of pain oriented
conditions. In addition, acupuncture's effects continue after the
needles are removed and may last for days or longer.
The neurohumoral theory was
developed in the 1970’s after scientist discovered the body chemical
endorphins. This theory states that acupuncture stimulates afferent
fibers within the muscle tissue where these fibers connect the
hypothalamus-pituitary axis, an important link with the nervous systems
response to pain. New research is showing that acupuncture release
substances that trigger other physiological responses such as:
- Increased white blood cell production
- Decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides
- Glucose and cortisol regulation
- Regulation of serotonin directly related to mood elevation
Within the human body are very
low-intensity electromagnetic (EM) fields that signal certain
physiological states, influencing things such as biological and
circadian rhythms, immune and endocrine functions, and many others.
These weak fields are much more difficult to detect that the larger EM
fields of the earth and man-made EM’s, however these field have shown
to have an influencing at the atomic level of the cells.
Some researchers believe
acupuncture works by transmitting electromagnetic signals to adjust
physiological process towards a state of homeostasis or balance. Other
hypothesis have sprung up from this theory, such as the Zhang-Popp
Hypothesis, which relate to this bioelectromagnetic principle and
correspond more closely to the ancient concept of Qi in the body.
Is it safe?
When practiced by a licensed,
trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is considered extremely safe. There
is no concern of overdose or drug interaction involved with the
therapy. As with any medical intervention there are always risks
however. Your practitioner takes the appropriate and lawful steps to
insure that whatever risk is associated with the intervention will be
minimized. Before treatment, your practitioner will go over any of the
risk associated with acupuncture and answer whatever questions you may
have regarding the therapy.
What can it treat?
In the late 1970s, the World
Health Organization (WHO) recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental
medicine to treat nearly four dozen common ailments, including
- Neuromusculoskeletal conditions (such as arthritis, neuralgia,
insomnia, dizziness, and neck/shoulder pain)
- Emotional and
psychological disorders (such as depression and anxiety)
disorders (such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and
- Addictions to alcohol, nicotine and other drugs
disorders (such as emphysema, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis)
- Gastrointestinal conditions (such as food allergies, ulcers, chronic
diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, intestinal weakness, anorexia and
The NIH’s Statement on Effectiveness:
In 1997, a consensus statement
released by the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture
could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to
treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow,
fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal
tunnel syndrome and asthma. Other studies have demonstrated
that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and
can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery. Please see the Links page on this website for more information on acupuncture and acupuncture research.
Ear Acupuncture (Auriculotherapy)
Auriculotherapy is the
stimulation of the auricle of the external ear for both the diagnosis
and treatment of health conditions. Diagnosis is performed by
inspecting the ear for physical changes, colors, knots, chords, and
other changes in the skin and tissue, and through electronic devices
that work to locate points of activity or conduction on the ear.
Treatment is performed with the use of small acupuncture needles and
retained anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, or with press seeds or
tacks made from radish seeds, stainless steel and gold, or magnets that
are taped on to specific points on the ear that act to simulate the
point for several days.
History of Auriculotherapy
Records indicate procedures
involving treating the ear in China from around the time 500 BC. In the
West, the earliest references were seen in medical
records from ancient Egypt, Greece, & Rome although the most complete
descriptions come from medical treatments recorded in Persia.
Auriculotherapy works by
stimulating the central nervous system through the cranial
nerves/spinal nerves on the auricle of the ear. This stimulation
results in a neurotransmitters being stimulated within the periactal
ductal gray, pituitary gland, and spinal cord of the central nervous
system. This stimulation of neurotransmitters modulates the pain and
modulates nerve function beginning the healing process within the body
to that organ or body part.
Korean Hand Therapy
Korean Hand Therapy is a "micro-system" of acupuncture that treats only the hands. At North Florida Acupuncture, we utilize this system with the application of high gauss magnets to stimulate a healing response in the body. This system is a needle-free method for treating the body and treatments can be repeated at home by the patient reinforcing its therapeutic effects and invoking a quicker healing response. Korean Hand Therapy was discovered in 1971 Dr. Tae-Woo Yoo, O.M.D., Ph.D. in Korea and has been clinically and
experimentally tested for accuracy.
Our method of applying Korean Hand Therapy integrates Japanese Abdominal Diagnosis and is utilized to clear blocks in acupuncture systems that govern the body's sympathetic nervous system, emotions, adrenal function, immune, digestion, and reproductive and hormonal systems. The understanding behind the therapeutic effects of Korean Hand Therapy are based on neurology, much like in Auricolotherapy. It has now become the basis for our treatments as it is extremely safe and effective.
History Cupping therapy, often
traditionally referred to as fire cupping, is one of the oldest methods
of Traditional Chinese Medicine and was also historically used in
Western Medicine from the time of Hippocrates in the 4th century BC in
Greece until the mid 1800’s when there was a sharp decline in use due
to criticize from the growing medical establishment. One of the
earliest pictorial records found dates back to 1500 BC in Egypt. This
technique has been used in the folk medicine of Vietnam, Iran, the
Balkans, Mexico, and Russia. It was commonly used historically as an
Eastern European Jewish folk remedy.
This therapy involves the placement of glass cups over the back, abdomen, legs, or arms after a vacuum is created inside the cup with a fire source (cotton ball soaked in alcohol). Cups are then placed on the skin creating this vacuum which pulls the tissues up into the cup and acts to help decongest the circulation in that area. Cups can be left in placed or moved around on the back in what is called "massage cupping" which feel quite relaxing to tense muscles on the back.
Cupping therapy can often leave
bruises on the skin, but these areas are usually painless and indicate
that stagnant blood has been brought up out of the deeper tissues to
the surface and that a healing response has been invoked. This treatment helps resolve this circulatory stagnation and often
improves painful conditions involving the muscles. The bruising left by cupping is viewed as a positive sign and normally dissipates within a few days.
Conditions Addressed By Cupping
In addition to relieving painful
condition, cupping therapy can be used to treat respiratory disorders,
gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and arthritis.
Guasha is a technique with
similar actions to that of cupping therapy. The technique is performed
by the use of a flat, smooth object either made of plastic, horn, or jade
which is taken and rubbed over the skin, usually in the area of the
upper back. Oil is placed on the skin before the rubbing process begins
in order to make the process more comfortable. Guasha is an excellent
technique to use in condition of pain and at the early sign of a cold
where there are body aches. Often these cold pathogens cause the
superficial circulation of these areas to stagnant and as a result
there is pain. The Guasha technique helps to break up this stagnation
and allow the microcirculation of the tissues to be normalized.
Guasha is a fairly safe practice
but does produce similar bruising like appearances on the skin which
are usually painless and fade within 3-4 days. The color of
discoloration is indicative of how long the disease has been there, how
much stagnation there is in the tissues, and what type of pathological
process is involved in the patient’s condition. Guasha is utilized to treat the following:
- Reduce fever
- Treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat or cold
- Alleviate respiratory disorders
- Treat muscular pain
- Alleviate headaches
- Benefit stiffness in the neck and sore shoulders
- Benefit digestive disorders
- Treat urinary and gynecological disorders
- Assist with reactions to food poisoning
Moxibustion is an Oriental
Medical therapy that involves the use of moxa, or the herb Artemesia
annua, commonly known as mugwort. Moxa therapy is used to warm regions
and acupoints on the body with the intention to increase circulation of
Qi and Blood to area, warm metabolic activity, and expel cold and
stagnation from areas of hypometabolic activity in the body. Medical
historians believe that moxibustion actually predates the use of
acupuncture needles in Oriental medical therapies.
Moxibustion is used more
extensively in patients that are classified as deficient and may have
symptoms such as fatigue, cold areas of the body, and for those who are
easily chilled. Moxibustion therapy has been used successfully to turn
breech babies into normal position to prepare them for childbirth at a
certain point located on the little toe. In a landmark study published
in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that
75% of women suffering from breech positions before childbirth had
fetuses that rotated into normal position after receiving moxibustion
at the point Bladder 67 (located on the little toe). Other studies have shown that moxibustion
increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women and may help
reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with
Smokiness of Moxibustion & Alternatives
It is important to note the moxibustion is an extremely smoky process. There are no toxic effects to moxibustion, but some
individual may be sensitive to the odor or smell. In cases such as
this, liquid moxa products and moxa patches are available and can be used and heated
with heat lamp therapy.
Tuina is a form of Oriental
bodywork that has been used in China for centuries. Tuina involves
multiple techniques joined all together such as massage, acupressure,
and other rapid movements used to treat acupoints and the channels in
the body. The action of Tuina works to regulate the flow of Qi and
Blood and work to alleviate painful conditions and speed healing. Often
after Tuina treatments patients feel as if the have more energy and
vitality due to the vigorous nature of the treatment, while some may
having a feeling of relaxation. The Tuina technique does not
usually require the removal of the patients clothing and can be
performed with the patient in either a lying or sitting position. Oils
or liniments can be used in certain conditions to help accentuate the
effects of the treatment.
Uses and Effects
Tuina in traditionally indicated for:
- Chronic pain, musculoskeletal conditions and stress related disorders
- Digestive and Respiratory system disorders
- Pediatric disorders of
all types including sleep disorders, colds and flu’s and other
respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.
Tuina is the preferred method of
intervention for children rather than needles, Cupping, or Guasha, Tuina is generally well tolerated
by all and used and the end of a treatment to seal its effects and
promote a general sense of well being.
Herbal medicine is one of the
oldest medical interventions that have been employed by man on ever
continent. The oldest written record of the study of herbs is
attributed to the Sumerians 5000 years ago. The first herb book from
China is dated around 200 BC. Both eastern and western cultures have
long used and cataloged the functions and indications of herbal
medicines that have been passed down for generations to us today.
It is estimated that
25% of the pharmaceutical drugs used in the US come from plant sources.
Until the turn of the 20th century herbal medicine was in integral part
of healing in America as it was practiced by Eclectic physicians.
Today, medical doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists and
other employ the use of herbal medicine to aid in the healing of their
Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies are named after an English homeopathic physician, Edward Bach. They are gentle, subtle remedies distilled from flowers that work deep on mental/emotional levels. They are often utilized in adjunct with homeopathic remedies, herbs, and nutritional supplements along with acupuncture treatments. Remedies are chosen based on the patient's mental-emotional complaints and through filling out a questionnaire regarding key patterns of behavior for the remedies. Remedies can also be tested against various acupuncture reflex points for compatibility. I utilize the Healing Herbs
brand of Bach Flower Remedies.
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy first proposed by German physician Samuel Hahnemannin 1796. It involves using medicinal plants, minerals, and other materials in diluted forms. Through the dilution process, it is believe that only the energetics of the substance is left in the solution and that know molecules exist. No one knows for sure how homeopathy works, but there are numerous studies and empirical evidence that shows it has an effect far greater than placebo. Homeopathy has been used in both humans and animals showing results. Classical homeopathy refers to the use of one remedy at a time in treatment. Complex homeopathy is a modern approach to the medicine that employs using multiple remedies together in a formula much like herbal medicine does. The strength of complex homeopathy is in the remedies are easy to take, effective, and can aid in clearing up the patient's symptom picture through stimulating detoxification. Normally, with complex homeopathy, there is much less of a chance in aggravating patients symptoms and causing a healing crisis. Complex homeopathy can be used to support tissue terrain and aid in detoxification and drainage of the patient. I use Apex Energetics and SafeCareRx remedies in my practice.
When it comes to choices in vitamin and mineral supplementation, there is no shortage of availability. Often patients seek medical help regardless of the fact they spend hundreds of dollars on supplements yet see no results and may possibly even get worse from supplementation. At times, supplements can provide a necessary boost for a patient to recovery, or can be used medicinally to treat a disease instead of using a pharmaceutical agent. However, it is important to remember that compatibility and necessity is important in using supplements. At North Florida Acupuncture I utilize Apex Energetics Terrainzyme™ line of nutritional supplements and also recommend several quality brands that can be found in most health food stores.
Supplements can be "tested" against the individual for energetic compatibility using O-ring muscle testing and acupuncture point organ palpation techniques. In addition to this, a urine panel analysis can be run from a sample of the patients urine to determine nutritional needs. The urine panels often reflect a more accurate state and need of supplementation vs. blood tests. If you are interested in discovering more about your nutritional needs and whether or not your supplements are compatible, the urinalysis and muscle testing techniques are tools that can be utilized to do so.