Some of the most common questions I get are "what is acupuncture" and "can acupuncture treat or help me with x, y, or z concern"? This blog post helps to answer those questions.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine, a complete system of medicine dating back approximately 3,500 years. In this system, we view health as a state of balance for a whole person (physical, mental and emotional). Whenever our health is thrown off balance, typically by physical or emotional stressors, lifestyle, diet or environment, symptoms arise. In modern society, we often ignore or “numb” these symptoms, leading to larger and more urgent symptoms that force us to pay attention.
In Chinese medicine, there are 12 primary channels, or meridians, each associated with a different organ system. These are the Lung, Liver, Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach, Heart, Pericardium, Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder, Small Intestine, San Jiao, and Kidney. Each of these meridians is associated with different health patterns, symptoms, and tongue and pulse presentations.
At each acupuncture appointment, we spend some time discussing your overall health. I’ll ask questions that feel normal like “how is your sleep” and others that feel a little strange, like specifics about your bowel movements. Our discussion, along with looking at your tongue and feeling your pulses, will inform my “diagnosis” as well as the meridians we focus on in the course of treatment. Ultimately, our goal in working together is to bring the body and mind back a state of balance.
After we chat about your specific health goals and symptoms, it’s time for pokes. Acupuncture needles are thin (think the diameter of a single hair) filiform needles. They are inserted into specific points of the body, many of which fall along the 12 primary meridians. There are also eight “extraordinary meridians” and a number of “extra points” that do not fall on a meridian at all, but that’s a different topic for a different time.
Why Should I get Acupuncture?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as a suitable treatment for dozens of different conditions.
In my clinical practice, I consider myself a generalist. In a world that wants us to specialize and find our niche, I find it much more interesting to see whoever walks through my door. Part of what drew me to Chinese medicine is my love of learning and research, and I spend hours a week outside of work to deepen my knowledge of conditions I’m less familiar with.
That said, I have the most experience working with:
Emotional and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, panic attacks)
Digestive disorders (IBS/IBD, Crohn’s, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, acid reflux, abdominal pain and bloating)
Pain conditions (TMJ/jaw, knee, back, neck, shoulder, tennis elbow)
Women’s health (PMS, fertility, irregular or painful menstruation, absence of menstrual cycle, endometriosis, menopause, UTI, pregnancy support, labor preparation, low libido).
Other conditions treatable by acupuncture and Chinese medicine include, but are not limited to:
Respiratory disorders (allergies, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, cold and flu
Circulatory disorders (high or low blood pressure, Raynaud’s, peripheral neuropathy, swelling or numbness of the extremities
Neurological disorders (neuralgia, Bell’s Palsy, trigeminal neuralgia, cerebral palsy, stroke)
Other conditions (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Lyme, Diabetes mellitus, Candida, MS, Epstein-Barr, HIV/AIDS)
I am a licensed acupuncturist & herbalist in the state of Colorado, and received my Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Denver. I’m originally from Virginia, and received my BA in Chinese language and politics at the University of Virginia. My deep interest in Chinese culture and traditions, along with my passion for connection and health, inspired my path toward becoming an acupuncturist.
My personal philosophy is similar to an underlying message of Chinese medicine: balance. I don’t believe in labeling our actions or decisions as “good” or “bad”, but rather place an emphasis on finding optimal health while living a life full of joy and ease. I find the “wellness world” to be exhausting and dogmatic, and one of my major goals as a practitioner is not to sell you more but to help you to do less. Where we can find simplicity in this chaotic, modern world of ours is often where we find freedom. In many sessions, we work on incorporating rest practices and mindfulness into your day-to-day life. Patient empowerment and education are key to my practice, and you’ll find that I share a lot of information throughout our work together. My ultimate goal is to facilitate and support your healing process, while equipping you with the tools you need to cultivate balance in your life and health moving forward.
When I’m not nerding out about Chinese medicine, you’ll find me reading, cooking and developing new recipes, and spending time in the mountains hiking or foraging. Because life is a balance, you might also find me at a dive bar on South Broadway, having game nights with my friends, or obsessively taking pictures of my cats Sam & Theo.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content and material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment.