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Acupuncture as Alternative Medicine

September 30th, 2009

For many years, acupuncture has been considered to be an “alternative” medicine. The word alternative is used to indicate that after exploring all biomedical options, if the results are not good enough, that alternatives are explored. Many patients come in saying “I’ve tried everything that my doctor has to offer, and I’m not feeling any better, so I’ve come to see you as an alternative.” This is certainly one reason to seek out acupuncture – if what you have tried is not working.

For patients who take any long-term medication, acupuncture may be very helpful. Many of these have unwanted side effects which can be immediate or can build up over time. For example, while pain medications can sometimes offer instant and substantial relief, a number of these medications may be addictive, may lose their effectiveness over time, or may have other side effects such as GI distress, drowsiness, or heightened risk of heart disease, to name a few. Some other conditions which also require long term medications, which can benefit from acupuncture treatment, include asthma, allergies, menstrual symptoms, menopausal symptoms, acid reflux, among others. With any medication, it is important to consult with your doctor before decreasing or discontinuing any long term medication. If you can manage your symptoms and condition without needing to take a daily medication, why take a medicine if you don’t have to?

Surgery is another situation when it may be beneficial to consider acupuncture as an alternative. Of course, there are cases where surgery is really the only or best option to solve specific health issues. If the problem is not urgent, however, it may be wise to consider acupuncture as an alternative to surgery, before committing to a procedure. Surgeries can be considered as a type of medicine with their own possible side effects, such as scar tissue, lingering pain or risk of possibly decreased function. Depending on your response to acupuncture, you may be able to postpone or even eliminate the need for a surgery, such as carpal tunnel surgery, knee surgery, and even certain types of abdominal surgery.

If you are looking for a new solution to old problems – try acupuncture!


Acupuncture as Complementary Medicine

June 30th, 2009

In the changing world of medicine, the world “alternative” as it applies to acupuncture as a type of medicine, is starting to fall out of favor. Acupuncture is being described more and more as a “complementary” medicine. A complementary therapy could be defined as a healing technique used simultaneously with western medicine to treat a specific patient. For instance, treating the consequences of stroke with acupuncture is most effective if begun soon after the stroke stabilizes. If a person in Taiwan has a stroke, acupuncture is performed in the hospital before the patient goes home, alongside regular medical care. Although it may be quite some time before we see acupuncturists on staff at the hospital setting in the US, there are a number of examples where acupuncture as complementary medicine is already taking place.

One category of patients who could really benefit from acupuncture include those with borderline conditions. If tests show that you “almost” have a condition like diabetes or abnormal thyroid levels, but your disease is not advanced enough to warrant medication, why simply wait for the disease to develop into a more serious state? Medical testing can alert us to impending health problems. In the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing ~ 200AD), it says “If someone digs a well when thirsty, or forges weapons after being engaged in battle, are these actions not too late?” Using Chinese medicine to modify the physiology before a condition becomes established, and before the moment where western medicine might be recommended, is an example of complementary care.

Acupuncture is used along with Chinese medicine already by many people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer, both in China and in the US. These intensive treatments can result in a number of grueling side effects, which can be effectively alleviated by acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

In the late 1960’s, one of the first widely publicized reports of acupuncture in the US was the New York Times story of reporter James Reston receiving acupuncture treatment after a surgery he had in China. Here in the US, patients are now starting to take advantage of the benefits of acupuncture before and after surgery. I have done acupuncture for patients wishing to prepare themselves for surgery, dealing with anxiety-related issues but also building up their stamina to speed up recovery time. After the surgery, acupuncture can be very effective at healing scar tissue and rebuilding strength.

Acupuncture can help to prevent a beginning condition from getting worse, it can help to reduce severe side effects, and can help speed up recovery time after surgery. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is not only an alternative – it can also be considered complementary health care, and used alongside your regular biomedical care.


Welcome to the Vancouver Acupuncture Blog!

January 8th, 2009

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