By Christina Captain, DAOM (c)
Acupuncture, a single modality in the ancient medical model of Oriental Medicine is considered to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes over 43 common disorders that Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can effectively treat. Respiratory disorders such as Asthma and allergies, musculoskeletal disorders such as joint pain and arthritis, and gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, to name a few. One aspect of Traditional Chinese Medical theory on which acupuncture is based, is the theory of qi (chi) and meridians. Qi is the vital substance that animates the human body and keeps all of its systems and organs functioning properly. Qi must be in ample supply and must flow smoothly without obstruction through the meridians. Meridians are pathways that the qi flows through. Each meridian is associated with an organ and has several branches throughout the body. Imagine that these meridians were streams off of a larger river and that the water flowing through the streams is actually the qi flowing through the meridian pathways. Now imagine that the trees lining the banks of the streams fell and blocked the flow of the water through the stream. If we think of this as the qi being blocked then the result is a stagnation or stoppage of the smooth flow of qi. This stagnation of qi translates into pain or organ system dysfunction.
Acupuncture and herbal medicines allow us to manipulate the flow of qi in the body thus relieving pain and restoring organ system function. For example if you have pain from inflammatory bowel disease and then theoretically the qi in your abdomen is blocked and an acupuncture treatment (the placement of sterile thin needles in specific areas) should help to relieve the pain by restoring the smooth flow of qi. Acupuncture is known for its ability to regulate bowel movements and restore proper function to the gastrointestinal system.
Another aspect of Contemporary Chinese Medicine is the thought that qi and meridian theory is not as important as the theory that acupuncture works based on a series of responses by the nervous and vascular systems of the body. In his book the Dao of Chinese Medicine Dr. D. Kendall expertly parallels Eastern and Western systems creating a contemporary and controversial model of Oriental Medicine. This theory is more easily accepted by the Western science community however completely degrades the more traditional model. It is my opinion that we cannot dismiss one theory for another rather we must unite the two and continue pressing forward for mainstream acceptance. We must continue to strive for additional research and integration in order to create the most understanding for academia, the medical community as well as the patient. It is obvious that the body responds to acupuncture and that the stimulation of acupuncture points inform the body systems to create homeostasis. As for pain we know that acupuncture decreases swelling while increasing blood flow to a specific area. This creates healing. One of the most important points in receiving acupuncture is knowing whom to receive it from. In the state of Florida Acupuncture physicians are required to complete a 5 year course of academic study after meeting the mandatory prerequisites for acceptance. This results in a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine.
After completing the required didactic and clinical coursework a national board examination test must be passed and malpractice insurance obtained before a license will be issued. Chapter 457 of the Florida code describes acupuncture physicians as primary care practitioners who are able to order and utilize laboratory testing. Acupuncture physicians are regulated under the same federal laws and rules in regard to the healthcare privacy act. The highest degree a non-medical doctor can achieve now is a doctorate in acupuncture and oriental medicine, the DAOM. To find the very best in a specialty area please seek out the DAOM credential.
Nearly one in ten adults (approximately 20 million people) in the United States has received acupuncture and sixty percent say they would readily consider acupuncture as a treatment option, according to the findings of a national survey by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Nearly half (48%) of the individuals surveyed who had received acupuncture reported that they were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their treatment, and only eighteen percent of respondents reported being not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with their treatment.
The truth is you miss all the shots you do not attempt to make, so why not give Acupuncture a try, there really is nothing to lose. Seek out ONLY qualified licensed practitioners, NCCAOM.org is the national accrediting body for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Christina is a nationally board certified (NCCAOM) acupuncture physician and the lead practitioner at the Family Healing Center which she founded in 2000. She has a Master’s Degree in Human nutrition and is a candidate for the DAOM degree. You can seek more information at: www.familyhealingcenter.com.