Why don’t more Americans use Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine as a therapeutic modality for pain and other disorders? Is it fear of the needles? Lack of evidence? Maybe it’s just too foreign a concept for most of us.
I found myself inspired to write again yesterday, for the first time in over a year. The inspiration came while I was listening to some friends talk about their health issues. I was at a party and I was listening in on two runners discussing their knee pain. They mentioned all the healing modalities that they use from PT to massage, even chiropractic medicine but no one mentioned acupuncture. I treat knee pain in runners every day and not just runners, but waitresses and athletes too and you know what? “It works! I’m a believer! Why didn’t I try this sooner??” That is a quote I hear at least 3 times, every week.
There it is, the question that inspired me to write again, “Why didn’t you try this sooner?” I wish I knew. Western M.D’s rarely recommend it, in fact, they often question it’s validity and even it’s safety, despite our board certification, licensure, Masters degrees, even PhD level education. Is the concept of “needles” just too freaky? That theory confuses me because the very people who are “afraid of needles” are the first ones to sign up for a knee replacement! Call me crazy but I think having my knee opened up with a knife and replaced with titanium is a hell of lot scarier than some teeny tiny pins that could potentially relieve the pain and even help some people avoid surgery. Knee pain is far from being the only thing that I treat successfully, don’t even get me started on the natural solutions to infertility and gynecological disorders! Insomnia, migraines and GI disorders are just the beginning of a long list of syndromes that I treat successfully year after year, week after week and day after day. In an effort to answer my question, I decided to ponder how I found Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. My first treatment was when I was 24 years old and I can’t tell you how much I wish I had started it earlier. Why didn’t I?
I was living in Los Angeles, working as an actress and having full blown panic attacks EVERY DAY. Like many Americans who aren’t feeling quite right, I went to the Doctor. He prescribed an anti- anxiety medication, along with a refill of my birth control pills, and sent me on my way. I was such a mess. I cried as I drove away, I was missing home and feeling totally afraid. I decided to go for a walk on Melrose Ave and shop, maybe stop for a cup of tea. There was this precious little tea shop right on Melrose, called Elixir. It had a bonsai garden where you could sit outside, read, and sip tea, and feel PEACEFUL. I headed inside and looked at the tea menu, they were all medicinal teas, using Chinese herbal medicine and they had one specifically for anxiety, okay, I ordered it and walked around sipping my calming concoction. There was this lovely red headed lady with a sign that said “free consultations.” She approached me and asked what tea I had ordered. I ended up, somehow, pouring my heart out to this amazing healer, she responded to my out pouring with ” have you ever tried acupuncture to treat your panic attacks?” I was TERRIFIED by the mere suggestion…mainly because I had never heard of it and I was still of the mindset that if my Doctor didn’t tell me to do it, it might not be the right thing.
The beautiful red headed healer offered me a free treatment, that’s how much she wanted me to try it. I found out that she was a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, board certified, licensed and well educated. I went to her clinic in Santa Monica and had my first treatment. After the needles went it, which didn’t hurt at ALL, she left the room and I slipped into a deep relaxation, a meditative state of mind and I thought to myself, “I have NEVER been this relaxed, this must be how normal people feel.”
That healer changed my life, she had me eating healthy, taking Chinese herbs and most importantly, my panic attacks were GONE. I was so enamored with how this changed my life that I bought a book called “The Web that has No Weaver.” That book transformed me for life and within 6 months, I ended my 10 year acting career and embarked on a journey to become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Crazy world right? In my clinic I still see terrified patients, almost every week, I am often their last resort. They say things like ” I’m so afraid of needles but nothing else is helping, so my friend talked me into this.” Those same terrified people end up coming back, week after week, because not only does it help them, THEY LOVE IT. I LOVE IT. I still get treatment once a week and i don’t feel right when I don’t.
In 11 years of practice, I have seen so much success with patients. I’ve had countless female patients, struggling with infertility, achieve healthy, normal pregnancies, because of acupuncture ( future blog post dedicated to this subject!) I’ve seen marathon runners with bad knees who now have NO PAIN, because of acupuncture. My favorite is seeing a person who hasn’t slept well in years come back in, after one treatment and say, I’ve never been so relaxed. I have the best job.
There isn’t a ton of long term, conclusive, American research on acupuncture. However, we do KNOW that it raises dopamine, releases endorphines, increases circulation and regulates the heart rate. Research is great, I hope to see more of it going forward, but I have my own research, and the proof is in the success rates that I see with my own patients.
So, if acupuncture works so well, why isn’t EVERYBODY doing it? Feel free to chime in the comments and let me know your experience and your fears.
I hope for a future where Acupuncture is tried first, instead of last. I want to see it more main stream. I have seen tremendous changes in the industry in my short 11 years of practice, more people now, than ever before, are trying it. This gives me hope. How about you? Have you tried it?
If you are interested in trying acupuncture, go to www.pocacoop.com , click on the Locate a Clinic tab, and find a community acupuncture near you!