Acupuncture: How, When, and Why?
Today I want to talk to you about one of my life’s passions: Acupuncture. Acupuncture, one of the oldest healing practices in the world, is an alternative healing modality used to restore and maintain health. Fine sterile needles are placed at specific points of the body, which stimulate qi (life force energy). Acupuncture can be used for many ailments but must be performed by a qualified practitioner to be safe and effective.
Our body is made up of yin and yang aspects with yin being inner, soft, slow, cold, and weak. Yang is the opposite: outer, hard, fast, hot, and strong. As opposite as they are, they are inseparable forces that maintain the body in a balanced state. This balanced state is HEALTH. The opposite of health is, of course, disease. Disease is a stagnation of energy leading to blockage of qi along the 12 regular meridians and 8 extra-ordinary meridians. So what can acupuncture treat? Stress, pain, digestive problems, fertility, neurological issues, orthopedic disorders, and more!
I have been an acupuncturist since 2002 and have seen it change so many lives. Coming from the conventional world of medicine, it was hard for me to believe that these little needles with such a fine prick can actually change things. My eyes have been opened and my patients have seen the results. In my practice, I use acupuncture alone or in conjunction with other modalities to get different desired benefits.
Many patients may not think it’s important to reveal certain medications, recreational drugs, or medical conditions, but these are very important for the practitioner to know before treating you. I treated a young man years ago who held back the information that he smoked marijuana before coming in for a treatment. Well, the treatment I was giving him was for pain, so I was increasing circulation intensely. In Chinese medicine, pain is caused by stagnation of qi (energy). This patient ended up getting a serious high and passing out, which was quite frightening. Fortunately, he came through and promised to reveal all information in the future.
I personally have treated various types of conditions with acupuncture. I remember when I was called to turn my first breached baby. I had only known of the condition in theory and wasn’t sure what to expect. I still remember everything about that first session. The client was lying face up, and I proceeded to calm her and place needles in her pinky toe. This is an empirical point for turning breech babies. The patient had seen her doctor and was slated for an inversion, an invasive procedure, if the baby didn’t turn on its own. She did not want such an invasive procedure and opted for acupuncture.
I placed needles at two points to increase qi and blood flow in a smooth manner and at another point to cause the bearing down effect. With needles in place, I took pole moxa, which is the AiYe (motherwort) herb, in a cigar shape and lit it. This herb, along with the pecking motion of the moxa, starts the qi movement. After a few minutes of pecking and circling in a clockwise position, I saw her abdominal area start to move. “Ah ha,” I thought, “I’m getting somewhere.”
Although this was the desired effect, it was both scary and exciting to see the baby move vigorously inside. I continued this for 30 minutes, and then the baby decided to go to sleep, presumably tired from all the activity. Needles were removed and the session ended. Sometimes you can turn a breech baby in one session, but most of the time it takes a few sessions.
Day 2: The patient stated she did not sleep well because there was a lot of movement. Did the baby finish its turn? I palpated the abdominal area and found the baby to be horizontal. I repeated the session from Day 1 with needles and moxa to finish the baby’s turn. MASSIVE MOVEMENTS! It looked as if the baby was going to come out right there. Now I didn’t mention it previously, but moxa smells like marijuana and leaves you feeling quite relaxed. Being in the home of a prominent attorney, with the neighbors smelling this well-known aroma, was not easy. After the session while in the elevator, a neighbor shot me a “how dare you” look, which left a little smile on my face to end my day.
Day 3: The client went to see her doctor and, yes, the baby had turned. Our lovely baby girl was born almost a week later through natural childbirth.
Health inside and out,
Tracy Piper, L.M.T., L.Ac., C.H. C.C.T