What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

It is an ancient healing system that is over 3,000 years old which utilizes the modalities of acupuncture, herbology, tui na  (a form of bodywork), dietary therapy, and qigong, which all treat illnesses, and promote good health and longevity. While acupuncture is the most commonly known modality, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner can use all of these modalities to correct imbalances in the body’s system and help restore a person to optimum health.

How does it work?

While the exact mechanism has yet to be found in western terms studies have shown acupuncture has effects that regulate your body’s immune, nervous and endocrine systems. According to TCM principles acupuncture and all oriental modalities work by regulating the body’s “qi” flow.

Studies have shown that acupuncture has regulatory effects on the immune, endocrine and nervous system. All Traditional Chinese medicine modalities work by removing stagnation and restoring the correct “qi” flow to the body. Acupuncture does this by inserting fine needles in acupuncture points along specific meridians in the body.

What is qi?

There is no true definition of qi in English. It has been translated in a variety of ways: energy, life-force, finest matter, breath, etc. Each of these translations captures only one aspect of qi. A metaphor to help you understand qi is to think of it as a radio wave. There are millions of different radio stations broadcasting different information constantly and you can only hear the information from a particular station when your antenna is tuned to it. A TCM treatment is like creating an antenna that tunes your body into the correct frequencies to assist your body’s healing process.

Does it hurt?

Most patients don’t feel the needles — actually, “needle” is probably the wrong term to describe them. Most needles are about double the thickness of a hair and resemble filaments more than the hypodermic needles most patients are used to experiencing in the doctor’s office. The other main difference is that hypodermic needles are hollow, designed to cut into the body and draw blood or inject a substance through them. In comparison, acupuncture needles are solid with rounded tips that are designed to separate the layers of skin and rarely draw blood. Most patients report feeling only a slight sharp sensation followed by a qi sensation. Everyone describes the sensation in a different manner, but most describe it as a warm distention or a slight tingling sensation. Most acupuncture sessions leave a patient feeling calm and relaxed.

Is it safe?

Phoenix Acupuncture uses single use sterilized disposable needles so there is virtually no chance of contamination. Acupuncture when practiced by a licensed professional who is board certified by the National Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is a safe procedure.

What can it treat?

Traditional Chinese medicine has been used to treat a variety of diseases for over 3,000 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed acupuncture as effective in treating some of the following conditions; colds, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, postoperative pain, nausea during pregnancy, nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, and dental pain, all with extremely low side effects. It can also alleviate anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia and the list is growing every day. While the list is impressive, the strength of TCM is in preventing the body from getting illness.

What’s the difference between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine?

The main difference is the way each medicine approaches the body. TCM views the body on a larger scale and is concerned with strengthening the body’s overall function and its own ability to heal. In western medicine the body is analyzed from a reductionist point of view. Each piece is looked at when it ceases to function properly. A good example of how each medicine works best is to look at a physical trauma. When a person experiences a physical trauma western medicine can analyze and repair the damage. TCM helps the body accelerate its own natural healing process and speed up recovery times. If you apply this outlook to a variety of diseases you can see that each medicine has its strengths and weaknesses. In China eastern and western medicine are used together with amazing results.

What is the difference between a medical acupuncturist and a TCM practitioner?

The main difference is in the training. Most TCM practitioners have over 1,500 – 2000 hours of training. While a TCM practitioner does have some western training the majority of their training is in the application of Traditional Chinese medical theory. A medical acupuncturist only receives rudimentary training in point locations and symptoms during a 100-300 hour course with no training in TCM theory. Without the correct use of the theory and pattern diagnosis acupuncture isn’t as effective.

What is a typical visit like?

A typical visit starts with a thorough examination of your lifestyle, dietary habits and medical history. This helps the TCM practitioner see how various patterns have formed in your life and determine which systems are out of balance. A practitioner then takes a patient’s pulse. A TCM practitioner examines the pulse for more than just the rate — he/she also assesses qualities in each meridian (there are twelve positions, six on each hand.) Next a practitioner will look at your tongue. Each system of diagnosis helps the practitioner gain a better picture of which system is the root cause of an illness. After the assessment a person lies comfortably on the table and the needles are gently inserted (most commonly used points are below the elbow and knee.) After the session the practitioner will prescribe herbal and dietary recommendations to assist with your healing journey.

How many treatments will I need?

Each patient receives a customized treatment plan based upon all the factors influencing the root cause of the disease, such as the severity and duration of the imbalance and the constitution of the patient. Jason Neff, L.Ac., will go over your prognosis and treatment plan at the end of your first visit. Our goal is to help you feel better as soon as possible.