It’s no secret that many of us are seeking approaches to live longer, healthier lives. Luckily, we have access to many modalities to promote health and wellness. And now at ORM, we have Dr. Michelle Young who offers Chinese medicine treatments, including acupuncture, cupping, and herbal medicine. Here is a note from Dr. Young:
As a licensed acupuncturist, I find folks who are unfamiliar with the modality very curious about it. So, I want to provide some answers to frequently asked questions. Please know there are many techniques and perspectives on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. (Actually, these differences cause quite a bit of tension between some groups. Yikes!) My approach is a hybrid of various styles and I really focus on the goal at hand – to facilitate optimal health and wellness.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Honestly, I hope not. I tend to use a gentle technique – the needles are thin and flexible, about the size of kitten whiskers. However, I can always adjust the intensity by using larger needles or adding electrical pulses. Every treatment is individualized to meet your specific needs.
How does acupuncture work?
Well, that really depends on who you ask. In the west, we describe multiple mechanisms, including:
- The needle insertion triggers a release of endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones1, and neurotransmitters (including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) that reduce pain2.
- Treatments alter the central nervous system to promote a parasympathetic state, or the “rest and digest” system, reducing stress hormones and inflammation3.
- Needling into trigger points alleviates muscle dysfunction to improve biomechanics and stimulate underactive muscles4.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, acupuncture alters the flow of qi, or energy, in channels throughout your body. Each channel consists of different types of energy which are named after various organs – you may have heard of Liver Qi or Spleen Qi. These energies are not really related to our anatomical organs. Rather, they are named according to the characteristics of the energy.
In Chinese medicine, why do you want to look at my tongue?
A Chinese medicine diagnosis is made by learning the details of your physiology and assessing the qualities of your tongue and pulse. The shape, size, color, and coating of your tongue provide insight into which systems can be supported to optimize your health.
What is cupping?
I create a vacuum inside small glass jars that are placed on the skin. This creates negative pressure, or a pulling sensation, on the muscles and fascia, increasing blood flow to the tissues, promoting cellular metabolism, detoxification, and alleviating tension. (This is one of my favorite therapies.)
How do people feel after treatment?
Everyone has a different response, which is one of the reasons I love this medicine so much. The most common responses are: relaxed, chilled out, spacey, floating, less tension, less pain, calm, peaceful… sounds pretty great, huh?
Any risks or side effects?
We are sticking needles in your body, so yes, there are risks. The most common side effects are pain at the insertion sites or bruising after needles or cupping. The very rare side effects include damage to organs; however, I’m doing everything in my power to minimize these risks. One of the reasons I absolutely love these treatments is because there is a very rare chance of any adverse side effects.
Can acupuncture help with immune support?
You bet! Most folks mostly think of acupuncture as a treatment for pain. And, yes, it’s great at that. Additionally, by reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy stress response, and promoting parasympathetic activity, we are giving your body more resources to efficiently fight off infections, support a healthy microbiome and reduce symptoms of allergies.
What else can acupuncture help with?
The honest truth is that acupuncture is a wonderful healing modality for the modern world. It can alleviate physical pain related to arthritis, injuries, fibromyalgia, and biomechanical dysfunction. It also helps reduce the negative effects of stress, which is beneficial for sleep disruption, hormone imbalances (i.e. PCOS, PMS, menstrual cramps), allergies, and sinus congestion, and many mental disorders, like anxiety, PTSD and depression.
Acupuncture can resolve tension, addressing headaches and migraines. It’s a helpful addition to smoking cessation and weight loss programs. This modality can promote healthy digestion, alleviating heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
I’ve used electroacupuncture to address various neurological conditions such as Bell’s Palsy, central and peripheral radiculopathy (i.e. bulged lumbar discs, sciatica) and to alleviate TMJ disorders or jaw clenching. There are very few folks I meet that do not find some benefit from this wonderful modality!
Come on in and try for yourself! I’m excited to meet you…
- Lin JG, Chen WL. Acupuncture analgesia: a review of its mechanisms of actions. Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(4):635-45. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X08006107. PMID: 18711761.
- Zhao ZQ. Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Prog Neurobiol. 2008 Aug;85(4):355-75. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 Jun 5. PMID: 18582529.
- Min S, Kim KW, Jung WM, Lee MJ, Kim YK, Chae Y, Lee H, Park HJ. Acupuncture for Histamine-Induced Itch: Association With Increased Parasympathetic Tone and Connectivity of Putamen-Midcingulate Cortex. Front Neurosci. 2019 Mar 12;13:215. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00215. PMID: 30914919; PMCID: PMC6423085.
- Cheng KJ. Neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture for some common illnesses: a clinician’s perspective. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2014 Jun;7(3):105-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2013.07.008. Epub 2013 Aug 17. PMID: 24929454.