Six things you need to know about Acupuncture

  • What is it good for? Absolutely Everything!

Since traditional medicines predate modern medicine, they had to treat everything.  Our modern scope includes using our modalities, “to prevent or modify the perception of pain, to normalize physiological functions, or for the treatment of diseases or dysfunctions of the body…” (Acupuncture Practice Act, 1997).  Common conditions treated include: coughs, colds, flus, indigestion, hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual disorders, fertility, symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum, menopausal symptoms, urinary dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic conditions and so on.  Any indication of imbalance in a body system can be addressed!

For more details, see our blog “Acupuncture it’s NOT Just for Pain.”  At Herb & Tao, we prefer to treat the underlying cause of pain which especially in chronic cases is an inability to heal damage. 

  • Acupuncture is not about the needle

Treatment focuses on manipulating the life-energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) that runs through channels in the body called meridians.  (The existence of these meridians has since been proven using many biophysical markers*).  When the Qi moves incorrectly or becomes blocked, it leads to imbalance in the body causing discomfort and disease.  Incorrect movement or blockage can be caused by many things including emotions, diet, lifestyle, trauma, etc.  At Herb & Tao, we use your signs and symptoms to figure out which of your meridians need treatment. It’s a process that requires involvement from the patient, but when something improves that they thought they had to live with, it’s so worth it!

  • Acupuncture doesn’t hurt!

Compared with most forms of medical treatment, acupuncture is minimally invasive.  Most patients are surprised the first time they receive acupuncture that oftentimes they don’t feel it at all!  This is mostly due to the tiny size of the needles which are about the width of a cat’s whisker, significantly thinner than what most people think of when they think of a needle!   

The feelings of wellness combined with progress made in treating a patient’s chief complaint far outweigh any minor discomfort experienced during treatment.  In rare instances a patient’s energy is concentrated on the surface of their body and they feel too much sensation, it is usually an indication that an underlying issues would benefit from herbal treatment.

  • Acupuncturists are Practitioners of East Asian Medicine

The “secret” to the success and efficacy of Traditional East Asian Medicine is the preservation of  4 – 5,000 year old texts that document how the body becomes diseased, the signs (such as pulse quality and tongue appearance) and symptoms that patients report to recognize the cause, and the myriad of ways it has been clinically treated.  It seems the human body hasn’t changed much in those years as we can see and treat the same signs and symptoms today.

In Illinois, currently the scope of practice of an acupuncturist includes treating not only with acupuncture needles but also by application of heat or cold, electricity, magnets, cold laser, vibration, cupping, gua sha, manual pressure, moxibustion, herbal medicinals, natural or dietary supplements, exercise, and diet.  Practitioners may choose to specialize and treat using any of these modalities in which they are trained.  It is so important in times like now where people can be nervous about leaving home that many of these methods can be continued at home! (Acupuncture Practice Act, 1997).

  • Acupuncturist is a regulated profession

In most states, the practice of acupuncture requires a state license.  In order to receive a license in Illinois, a person must attend and graduate from an accredited 3-4 year full-time master’s or doctoral program in traditional east asian medicine, pass board exams covering acupuncture, oriental medicine, western biomedicine, and *herbal medicine given by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), and apply to the state of IL for a license.  The state requires renewal every 2 years including 30 hours of continuing education credits to maintain licensure.  Licensed acupuncturists like other health care professionals are subject to rules regarding ethics and are mandatory reporters.  Acupuncture is the only regulated traditional medicine in IL.  We have professional organizations including the Illinois Society of Acupuncturists (ILSA) and the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA).

  • Chinese Herbal Medicines are regulated, safe, and effective

Herbal medicine is regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.  All manufacturers of herbal products are required to follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are more strict than the GMPs required for food items.  This process includes positive identification of each ingredient, purity tests, source-tracking, documentation, training of personnel and hygiene. (“Legal and Regulatory”, 2020).

At Herb & Tao, we specialize in providing herbal formulas as an individualized and needle free treatment.  Currently, we outsource compounding of custom formulas to GMPs certified herbal pharmacies.

References

American Herbalist’s Guild. (2020). Legal and Regulatory FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/legal-and-regulatory-faqs

Acupuncture Practice Act. Ill. Stat., § 225 ILCS 2/10 (1997). Retrieved from http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1290&ChapAct=225%C2%A0ILCS%C2%A02/&ChapterID=24&ChapterName=PROFESSIONS+AND+OCCUPATIONS&ActName=Acupuncture+Practice+Act.

Li, J., Wang, Q., Liang, H., Dong, H., Li, Y., Ng, E. H., & Wu, X. (2012). Biophysical characteristics of meridians and acupoints: a systematic review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 793841. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/793841

Why Acupuncture Helps with much more than pain!

Acupuncture is a part of a complete health system mostly known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or more politically correct, Traditional East Asian Medicine.

TEAM is a great acronym since a practitioner and his or her patient act together as a team to bring balance to the patient’s body thereby decreasing or alleviating symptoms of dis-ease.

TCM gives practitioners tools to diagnose and treat the body as a whole.  Rather than focusing on one or two symptoms, we look for overall patterns by taking into account not only symptoms, but also signs such as tongue appearance and pulse quality, as well as general functioning of the body’s systems (i.e. digestive, respiratory, etc.). 

Through this broad view of the body, TCM is able to treat a wide range of imbalances such as emotional, reproductive, hormonal, digestive, etc.  This allows us to work on imbalances that manifest as all types of disorders such as fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, palpitations, anxiety, depression, infertility, constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, skin conditions, and more.  When one aims to strengthen the body itself, it can begin to correct things we just thought we had to live with and even things we weren’t even “trying” to treat!

The body is constantly trying to heal itself.  When we support these efforts, we recover. If we don’t support the efforts, the problems persist and even worsen.  TCM treatment modalities; Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture, heat application, eastern nutrition therapy, movement therapies, and lifestyle changes are aimed at supporting and boosting the body’s own healing efforts.  

Healing takes persistence and patience. As the body heals itself it may decide to eliminate toxins or require more rest. Your acupuncturist can help you understand what your body is trying to tell you and how to assist it to aid in a quicker smoother recovery.

At Herb & Tao, we specialize in treating internal conditions such as those listed above. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you in your search for wellness at info@herbandtao.com!

Our relaxing treatment area!

Natural Health: Preparing for Sleep

Do you have insomnia? Trouble falling asleep? Waking at strange hours unable to return to sleep? Countless health issues can be caused or aggravated by inadequate sleep. Here is why Chinese medicine can help and tips to properly prepare for and optimize quality sleep.

Sleep is supposed to be easy: just stop what you are doing, turn off the lights, lay down and close your eyes, right? This does not necessarily work for everyone and Chinese medicine gives us insight into why.

For thousands of years, the Chinese and undoubtedly other ancient cultures understood that we should follow the natural rhythms of the planet. The Chinese Medicine 24-Hour Circadian Clock (illustrated in the picture) explains how qi (energy) flows through our organ systems (including all channels & organs) throughout the day. The qi is concentrated in the corresponding element/organ systems at the time noted.

Tips for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

  • Wake up (ideally between 5 & 7 am) and and go to sleep (ideally before 11 pm) at the same time
  • Dim all lights and turn off electronics such as computers, phones, tablets, & televisions an hour before bedtime – use blue light filters after sundown
  • Listen to soft soothing music, relaxing binaural beats, or meditate to relax your mind
  • Practice qi gong or tai chi slowly for 30 mins
  • Read or listen to a relaxing book – try fiction or psalms in the bible
  • Take a relaxing bath with calming essential oils or at least a shower to wash away the frantic energy from the day
  • When you lay down practice abdominal breathing – when you inhale your abdomen expands (not your chest)
  • If any thoughts or worries come up when you try to sleep, try writing them down. Tell your mind, those are for tomorrow after a good night’s sleep gives me strength and clarity
  • If you have a hard time falling asleep, try progressive muscle relaxation or self-hypnosis as you lie in bed
  • If you awake, avoid the temptation to get up and do something, train your body and mind – nothing exciting going on here
  • If you have a problem with a particular organ system, meditate or take a nap during that time (see Chinese body clock picture – ex: metabolic issues 9 pm bedtime)
  • If you try all of this and still have trouble sleeping your qi may be blocked: be prepared to tell your acupuncturist exactly what the problem is. Trouble falling or staying asleep? What time are you waking up? What happens when you awake – mind racing, have to urinate, can/can’t go back to sleep? Do you have vivid dreams?
  • Acupuncture can release energy blockages often improving sleep in the first treatment
  • A series of treatments and learning how to support your organ systems is needed for sustained results

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine a.k.a. Acupuncturists study for years and are trained to recognize patterns and symptoms that illuminate an overarching issue that could be affecting your sleep and as a result your health in general. Sleep quality is just one of the signs acupuncturists use to diagnosis and treat patients to optimize wellness.

Contact us info@herbandtao.com or use the form on the contact us page for an appointment to improve your sleep today!

Chinese Medical Nutrition: Bone Broth

What is Bone Broth? Who needs it? What should I look for in my Bone Broth? Why do we eat/drink it? What does that have to do with Chinese Medicine? 

Bone broth is simple, bones cooked in water for a long period of time ranging from 4-36 hours.  Why would anyone want to do this? As it turns out, this is an herbal decoction!  The two main macronutrients obtained from doing this are marrow and gelatin (which contains collagen) which the body can use for healing and repair.  In addition to these, small amounts of synergistic micronutrients including minerals and trace minerals are also present.

What does this have to do with Chinese Medicine?  Everything!  As a traditional medicine built over thousands of years, Chinese medicine has retained the knowledge of our ancestors on what to eat to attain and maintain health and how to prepare food for maximum digestibility and assimilation.   There are entire books which describe the eastern nutrition properties of foods and how to use them for medicinal purposes! TCM suggests these ingredients for certain conditions and some Chinese Medicine herbal formulas contain these ingredients as well.

Marrow is known to replenish the Jing or Essence, a yin substance located deep in body structures such as the brain, bone marrow, and reproductive organs.  Jing is associated with growth and development. E Jiao is a type of gelatin traditionally used as a blood builder and should be used whenever there is a situation where the blood or blood vessels are damaged or healing is not taking place somewhere in the body.

Who can benefit?  People with pain and injury including athletes;  those trying to conceive or pregnant; those with digestive difficulties such as indigestion, gas, constipation; people with chronic illness or low body weight and children.  Organic and fresh as possible bones and meat are recommended especially when there is compromised health.

If you research traditional cultures around the world, you’ll find bone broth has been used in other cultures as well.  Some notes about bone broth:

  • Your bone broth should turn to gel when refrigerated, the more solid it is, the more gelatin it contains
  • Some sources of gelatin are ham hocks and bovine hooves
  • Some sources of marrow are large bones such as short ribs or oxtails – cook a long time until the marrow falls out
  • Bone broth protein powder is an awesome digestible protein powder, but it is not bone broth
  • If you find it difficult to digest your bone broth, try adding ginger to the recipe 

If you still have difficulties with digestion or healing, you should be assessed for other issues that may be preventing your healing.  Contact us for an acupuncture or herbal appointment today!

A final note:

There has been controversy on the treatment of animals for medicinal use.

  • Most herbal medicinals are not animal based products and are vegan
  • Use of animal products is indicated for more serious illness
  • You can avoid the use of animal products IF you can eat a significant amount of fresh raw fruits and vegetables – herbal formulas can help you do that too
  • You can use your own bone broth or gelatin to mix in your herbal formula from your acupuncturist

Sources and Favorite Books on Nutritional Health:

Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D.

Chinese Natural Cures by Henry Lu

Wishing you the best in health!

Ja’Nelle