When I first opened my practice many years ago, I thought that most of the people I would be treating would have some kind of pain or overuse injury. In my previous career, I spent years researching women’s health and sports. So when I hung out my shingle, I just assumed that I would attract athletes and weekend warriors who had sustained some kind of injury.
While I indeed treated my share of athletes, the reality is that those where not the people who made up the bulk of my practice. Instead, I got calls from all kinds of people—men and women, young and old, very sick and pretty healthy—who wanted to know if I could treat their particular complaint. The end result is that I learned firsthand the remarkable variety of conditions that can be effectively treated with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Among them:
1) Stress! If it weren’t for stressed out patients, I would have closed my doors long ago. Many people live incredibly stressful lives, and unfortunately most wait until that stress affects their health before they decide to do anything about it. The reality is that high levels of chronic stress affects absolutely every aspect of your health. The other reality is that acupuncture is a very effective way to calm you down and reverse the effects of an over-the-top lifestyle.
2) Infertility. I never set out to work with infertility patients. However, many years ago I agreed to treat a young woman going through infertility treatments. I was pretty much her last resort. We worked together for a couple of months when she became pregnant and ultimately delivered a healthy baby. Over the years that success story has fueled my passion and been repeated in my clinic numerous times.
3) Digestive issues. Frequently a by-product of stress, but often caused by other factors, digestive issues have proven to be effectively treated by acupuncture and Chinese dietary therapy. Patients often come with very low expectations because they have tried everything else, and after a series of sessions and some dietary tweaks find that their digestive symptoms have improved dramatically.
4) PMS. Many women see a decrease in their cyclical symptoms after a few sessions on the acupuncture table. In most cases, women with PMS are diagnosed with a stagnation of Qi—which simply means that things aren’t moving very well. Frequently PMS is aggravated by high levels of personal stress. When both of those imbalances are addressed, many women find relief from their symptoms.
5) Seasonal allergies. In Chinese medicine, immunity is viewed as a kind of protective bubble that keeps outside invaders at bay—things like bacteria, viruses, and allergens. People who suffer from seasonal allergies generally have a weakness is that protective bubble, which is considered to be a kind of Qi, or energy. When that energy is strengthened through acupuncture, diet, and sometimes an herbal formula, most sufferers are able to get through their allergy season with few or no symptoms.
6) Anxiety. Most people are surprised to find that acupuncture can treat anxiety. However, research on the physiological effects of acupuncture has documented that acupuncture affects your brain chemistry in a good way. It increases chemicals in the brain that have a calming, feel-good effect, as well as increasing chemicals that fight pain.
7) Fatigue. Chinese medicine is all about energy. Every cell in your body makes energy; it’s the stuff of cellular biology and the Krebs cycle in science. In Chinese medicine, good health depends of you having enough of that energy to maintain all your bodily functions, and it needs to flow unimpeded. When you are tired, fatigued, exhausted, or just plain pooped out, it’s because you are down a quart of energy. There are numerous possible causes for your low energy, but the good news is that acupuncture, herbs, and dietary changes can help.