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 acupuncture treatments.
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 view.
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 Bio-electromagnetism theories.
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.
Stimulation 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:
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 the following:
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.
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:
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 acupuncture.
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:
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 patients.
At North Florida Acupuncture, I typically utilize prepared herbal medicines in the form of liquid extracts, teapills, or tablets. All of the companies I utilize test and screen their herbs for microbiological contaminants and pesticides and heavy metals. Companies with strong reputations that are utilized in my practice are Kan Chinese Modular Solutions, Kan Traditionals, Health Concerns, Plumflower Brand, and Herbal Times.
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.