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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
TCM is the oldest and arguably one of the safest and most effective forms of medicine. Chinese medicine has been practiced the same way for over 5,000 years. Long before there were X-rays, CAT scans, and blood tests, traditional healers used noninvasive methods to ascertain personal health, talents, and character. From their understanding came a deep appreciation for the unity of the mind, body, and spirit. For the Oriental diagnostician, the body is the physical manifestation of the soul. Body and soul are one. The body is both a symptom and a symbol of the spirit. Oriental diagnosis is the art of seeing beneath the superficial to the profound; of revealing the inner truth.
In the Orient, the human body is viewed as a finely balanced unity of interdependent parts. More importantly, the whole is greater then the sum of the parts. You are a living entity that is composed of mind, body, and spirit. An Oriental diagnostician views all three realms as one. There is no separation, only unity. Within the body, each organ is seen in relation to all the others. The health of an individual organ depends on the healthy functioning of every other organ. The reason is simple: from the Oriental point of view, the body is a continuous circuit in which energy flows. This energy is the life force. If the energy is blocked in any part of the body, organs fail to be adequately nourished.
Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is the vital energy or power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians, and provides nourishment fir the entire body. When Qi becomes blocked or stagnant, the body and organ systems become stressed and our health is then compromised.
Physical, chemical, or emotional factors can cause Qi and blood stagnation, leading to imbalance or organ malfunction. The function and healing process of vital body parts are then affected, and although extreme health problems may not be observed, if the condition goes untreated, the body will attempt to support the affected area and as the problem goes untreated, the area will begin to degenerate. The longer a condition is allowed to go untreated, the less chance there is for recovery. What began as a minor problem or discomfort may lead to irreversible damage.
When dealing with any health concern, many people are quick to resort to expensive doctors and prescription drugs, even surgery. These “band-aid” solutions can help in the short term, but often require more attention in the long term. The purpose of TCM is to return energy and blood flow back to normal to reinstate optimal organ function and balance. This will restore function to the affected area and the body will begin to heal itself. An acupuncturist’s job is to facilitate the body’s natural healing process.
Can acupuncture help me?
Acupuncture is safe, all natural, drug free, and effective. Acupuncture is primarily used when a patient falls ill, experiences pain, or feels out of balance. However, it can also be used as a preventative method, as acupuncture strengthens the immune system.
At our office, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat both chronic and acute conditions including: pain (including back pain, sciatic pain, neck/shoulder pain, joint pain, etc.), digestive disorders, allergies, asthma, cold & flu, insomnia, headaches, stress, weight loss, menopause, skin conditions, depression, anxiety, addiction, fertility, and more.
Will acupuncture get rid of my problem?
At Tian Chao Herbs and Acupuncture, we recognize 3 steps of care: relief, corrective, and maintenance.
Our first goal is to relieve the patient of any pain and discomfort they may be experiencing. Relief care is necessary to get rid of symptoms, but does not correct the cause of it. It is the same as drying a floor that was getting wet from a leak, but not yet fixing the leak.
Many times a patient chooses only relief care, due to a failure to understand the benefits of corrective care. When a patient feels 80% symptom relief, and they do not come in for corrective treatment, they will see their symptoms return. Relief care is only temporary.
Once a patient has been relieved of discomfort, corrective care can begin. Corrective care is essential if the patient would like to get rid of the root of the problem. This phase of treatment is a deeper healing. This phase can vary in length or time depending on the severity of the health problem, but provides long lasting results. Corrective care removes the cause of the symptoms. For example, a patient may have headaches, which resulted from a blockage of Qi. The blockage can case an effect in which a reduction in blood supply to the head results in a headache. Relief care focuses on the symptom: the headache. Relief care would be similar to taking aspirin, although it may temporarily alleviate the headache, it does nothing to correct the cause. Corrective care focuses on making certain the blockage of Qi is corrected, and therefore the resulting headaches are gone.
Research shows that the body takes longer to heal than the pain or symptoms last. Continuing care encourages your body to heal completely and faster then on-again off-again treatments. Without continued care, your organs and Qi will return to their unhealthy state. Corrective care retains and stabilizes proper Qi flow. Following all of your acupuncturist’s recommendations (diet, lifestyle, etc) and receiving maintenance care will ensure that a relapse does not occur.
The third step of treatment is maintenance. This keeps the body moving forward and prevents problems from occurring. In Western medicine, we only see a doctor once a problem has arisen. In ancient Eastern medicine, Oriental doctors were only paid if their patients remained healthy and not sick. The goal of Eastern medicine is preventative, rather then to only address health once symptoms have been noticed. This third step of treatment ensures that new problems do not arise, and can be thought of as a “tune-up”.
What will my treatment be like?
At the beginning of your treatment, will we indicate whether the acupuncturist will be working with you lying face down or face up and you may be asked to remove your clothing so that you have a bare back. We will provide you with a gown to wear. The acupuncturist will then come in, and may ask you some questions before treatment. Acupuncture needles are always sterile; a fresh pack will be opened at the time of your treatment and are always properly disposed of after. We DO NOT reuse needles. The fine stainless steel needles are inserted at specific points in the body depending on your health concern and may include but are not limited to: the face, ears, arms, chest, back, legs, hands and feet. Once the needles are inserted, the patient is asked to relax and is left for 30-45 minutes. Other additional Chinese therapies such as cupping, moxibustion, and herbal medicine may also be included in treatment or recommended. If you are in any way uncomfortable during your treatment, we provide you will a bell so you can alert us. When your treatment is over, take your time getting up and dressed. Enjoy a cup of tea in the lobby before you leave. Avoid strenuous activity (such as the gym) for 2 hours after treatment.
How should I prepare for treatment?
Be sure to have something light to eat before you arrive for your treatment. We do not recommend receiving treatment on an empty stomach as this can sometimes cause dizziness after treatment.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very fine, and are not inserted deep into the body. While most needles do not hurt, a patient may experience a slight pinch at insertion. Once a needle has been inserted, some patients may experience different sensations. Some patients experience an achy feeling surrounding the needle, some feel warm, tingly, heavy, sleepy, and some feel nothing. All of these sensations are normal and vary depending on the treatment and individual. If you experience any discomfort, do not hesitate to tell your acupuncturist so it can be corrected.
Is acupuncture safe?
Unlike potent prescription medications, there are no harmful side effects from acupuncture. In fact, in addition to receiving relief from the health concern that brought the patient into the clinic, the most common “side effects” from acupuncture include: balanced energy, stronger immunity, improved sleep, and decreased stress.In occasional circumstances, patients may experience a spike in symptoms, such as greater pain, more stress, etc. When the body begins to become strong again, Qi flows where it was once stagnant and the body begins to purge. This elimination is a sign of healing. Please let your acupuncturist know if your symptoms begin to worsen, so we can provide more relief care.
How many treatments will I need?
Treatment varies depending on the individual. The severity of your health concern, how long it has gone untreated, and whether you follow other lifestyle recommendations, may influence your healing time. At Tian Chao Herbs and Acupuncture, we recommend that every patient tries at least 3 treatments within a 7 day period. We take an aggressive approach beginning treatment, because the main goal during this phase is relief. As healing progresses, you can come 2 times a week, once a week, once every two weeks, etc. Three treatments is typically a good indicator of how a patient’s body will respond to acupuncture treatment, and from there the acupuncturist can make a further recommendation.
Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?
Depending on whom your provider is, acupuncture services may be covered by insurance. Your health insurance may cover a certain number of visits per year, or may cover a percentage of your treatment costs. Other insurance companies have a list of preferred providers you can chose from to receive treatment. Unfortunately, we are not on anyone’s preferred list, because insurance regulations would compromise our approach to treatment. Our goal is to provide you with the highest quality of acupuncture treatment. If you would like to be reimbursed for treatment, please contact your insurance provider and see if they cover acupuncture. If they do, we will provide you with all the necessary paperwork to submit to them. We also accept Flex Spending cards.
If I have a hard time paying for my treatment, what are my options?
We are partnered with a company called Health Care Payment Solutions that allows us to work on improving our patient’s health despite any financial difficulties they may have. Health Care Payment Solutions is set up here in just a few minutes at the clinic. There is no credit check; it does not affect your credit. You can choose your payment method (checking/savings/credit card), the date that you would like the payment to be withdrawn each month, and how much you would like to pay each month. Health Care Payment Solutions provides this service by charging an 8% service fee, this is not interest. They also charge a one time $15 set up fee. You can make a down payment if you wish, pay off your package off early if you wish, cancel at any time (you are only responsible for the treatments you have already received), or extend with an additional package.
Tian Chao Herbs & Acupuncture