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Alternative Healthcare: Acupuncture

beth April 2, 2013
AcupunctureImage by NYCTCM

Acupuncture is something everyone has heard about – but most people actually know little about. Acupuncturist Bre Grzych, LAc,LMT of  Crete Wellness Center was gracious enough to give us a look at what her job entails for both her and her patients.

As an acupuncturist, what is your job?

My job as an acupuncturist is to identify any imbalances in the body that are leading to dis-ease or impaired function and correct those imbalances.  Instead of looking for physical or physiological imbalances, however, I am looking for imbalances in Qi (prnoucned chee), or life-force energy. Through a very thorough diagnostic interview- asking questions that cover every aspect of your health and lifestyle-, an examination of the tongue, palpation of the pulses, and possibly some additional exams or points of palpation, I am able to identify what is known as a “pattern of disharmony” that encompasses the main complaint and any other health concerns.  Once the pattern has been identified, I create a treatment plan that includes one or more treatment modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Those include acupuncture, herbal therapies, nutrition therapy, qi gong (a gentle form of exercise), or tuina (a form of bodywork).

What is Qi?

Qi is an intangible substance or concept that circulates throughout our body and is the force that animates and protects the body against illness and imbalance.  Qi is not only something we are born with, but it is something that we can nourish and cultivate or damage and deplete throughout our life.  It is when the Qi becomes imbalanced, pain and illness can arise.

What should I look for when finding an acupuncturist? Any specific certifications?

If you are looking for a traditionally trained acupuncturist, or one who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine in its entirety, then you should look for a NCCAOM certified practitioner.  Acupuncturists who carry this certification have completed a 3-5 year post-graduate level curriculum that encompasses theory and clinical application with clinical experience.  In addition to TCM acupuncturists, there are other medical professionals that use acupuncture under their scope of practice.  They include MDs, chiropractors, and in some states, physical therapists.  It is important to note, however, that most non-TCM practitioners of acupuncture have just selected one application or theory of acupuncture and may not have a comprehensive understanding of the entire medical system.  While their select application may provide much benefit, most people will experience better results when seeing a traditional acupuncturist that has been trained in all aspects of the medicine.  This is especially true for health concerns that are chronic or constitutionally based.

Can and acupuncturist safely treat you while your pregnant? What are the benefits?

Acupuncture is very safe during pregnancy, and in many cases, it can be much safer than the allopathic treatment.  Acupuncture is able to casino online help with just about any complaint of pregnancy, including morning sickness, heart burn, back pain, swelling, breach position, and labor induction.  Even if you don’t suffer from any of the common pregnancy complaints, acupuncture is still beneficial because it can keep your body’s energies balanced and more ready to handle the changes of pregnancy.  Many women who receive regular acupuncture treatments during pregnancy, report having an easier, faster, or more comfortable labor and delivery and breastfeeding success (and I can attest to this-twice!).  Your acupuncturist can even teach you a few points to massage during labor to help manage pain and progress labor.

At what age do you start seeing patients? How young?

Acupuncture is safe and effective for any age, including as early as infancy.  With young children needles are not always used, as there are several other ways to stimulate the acupuncture points and achieve balance.  If needles are used, they are typically only left the in the body for a very short time, from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the age and comfort of the child.  Acupuncture is able to help with many childhood ailments, including colic, reflux, asthma, allergies, immune function, growing pains, attention disorders and many more.  If you are looking to use acupuncture to help your child, I recommend finding an acupuncturist who has special education and training to ensure a beneficial and enjoyable experience.

Is acupuncture painful for the patient?

The short answer is no, but it does require some explaining.  The needles that are used a very fine and shaped to a point, nothing like the needles used for blood draws or injections.  Upon insertion, the patient may still feel a pinch, but it will be nothing like the “pinch” from other needles.  Many needles are inserted without any sensation at all.  For the needles that do create a sensation, it should be tolerable and fleeting.  It is important to understand, the sensations of pain, pinching, tingling, warming, or distending are not viewed as a negative by the acupuncturist.  It is looked at as the “arrival of qi” and can be an indication of successful needling.  It is also important to understand that communication is vital during your treatment, and if you are ever uncomfortable or the sensation does not dissipate, you should let your acupuncturist know.

What conditions do you often treat?

I have found that people most often seek acupuncture for one of its few well-known treatments.  Those include pain, headaches, fertility, and insomnia.  But once they realize the potential, they seek acupuncture all types of health concerns.  Pain, headaches, digestive issues, fertility, and insomnia are probably the most common issues I see, but I have also worked to improve post-operative recovery, organ function prior to transplant, hormonal imbalances, diabetic neuropathy, and autoimmune disorders.  Instead of looking to fix the complaint, acupuncture looks to balance the whole, which allows it to treat conditions that would otherwise be left “untreatable.”  It works very well specifically for things like adrenal issues or fertility issues because it searches for the very root imbalance and gently restores proper function through the stimulation via acupuncture points.

Should a acupuncturist be seen routinely for overall well being or on a as needed basis?

That depends on the patient’s goals. Typically, I will see my patients frequently at the beginning of the treatment plan- usually once a week.  Once we have made progress according to the patient’s goals, the treatments become further and further apart.  Some patients wish to come back on an as needed basis once their goal has been met.   Many patients enjoy the numerous benefits of acupuncture and prefer to get a treatment once a month, even after their initial goal has been met.   Ideally, I would love to see my patients only at the change of seasons once we have met their health goals.  Traditional Chinese Medicine holds great revere for the power and influence of nature and concedes that we need to live according to its cycles.  Because we can be so far from the natural cycles of the earth, “seasonal balancing” becomes imperative for optimal balance and health.

 What other questions do you have about acupuncture?

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2 Comments

  1. I hope everyone enjoys the interview. It was a pleasure working with Modern Alternative Health to introduce acupuncture as a great option for reaching your health and wellness goals. I invite everyone to visit our website at http://www.cretewellnesscenter.com or if you are in the Chicago/ Northwest Indiana area, stop on in! Wishing you all the best of qi and vibrant health!

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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